Mario Batali: My Sons Have Been Cooking ‘Since They Were Walking’

06/04/2014 at 02:57 PM ET

Mario Batali
Donna Svennevik/ABC/Getty

Mario Batali is, naturally, the head chef in his home, but The Chew co-host has always had plenty of backup: sons Benno, 17, and Leo, 16.

“They’ve always participated in the kitchen, and they’ve known how to cook since they were walking,” Batali told PEOPLE at Monday night’s launch party in N.Y.C. for Eat (Red) Drink (Red) Save Lives, an AIDS fundraiser. “Leo makes a really killer beef taco, and Benno makes a stuffed cheeseburger with Gorgonzola inside the burger.”

Last year, the budding chefs published their favorite recipes in The Batali Brothers Cookbook, which features simple comfort foods like Cinnamon Swirl French Toast and Sloppy Sloppy Joes. Although, says Batali: “They’re like really cool right now though, so they’re not cooking too much. They like to go out to eat!”

Proud as he is of his sons’ culinary skills, though, the senior Batali, whose weight-loss successes and failures have been well-documented, limits himself to such rich indulgences. And it’s not easy, even for someone as active as he is.

“Squash, boxing, and golf, meatless Mondays and Thursdays … and it’s still not dripping off, is it? I work hard, but I don’t know. I must have a really slow metabolism. I’m going to try to accelerate it.”

We hope he does, so he can celebrate with Benno’s Gorgonzola-stuffed burger, recipe below.

Pocket Burgers
Serves 4

2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1¾ lb. ground chuck
½ cup crumbled blue cheese or Gorgonzola
4 hamburger buns, toasted

1. Preheat a grill to high heat.

2. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, pepper and salt.

3. Form your ground chuck into 8 evenly sized thin patties. On one side of each patty, sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of the cumin mixture (or more to your liking).

4. Flip over 4 of the patties so the non-spiced side is facing up and put a quarter of the blue cheese on the center of each patty.

5. Take one of the remaining patties and, spiced-side up, place it on top of one of the blue cheese patties. Gently push the top patty down around the blue cheese and pinch the sides of the patties together until the burger is completely sealed around the cheese. Do this with the remaining 3 patties.

6. Put burgers on the grill and cook to desired temperature (4 minutes on each side for medium). Put burgers on toasted hamburger buns and enjoy.

—Nancy Mattia, with reporting by Haiwen Lu

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Showing 10 comments

emma on

Not bad looking boys

Guest on

Nice family!

Dana on

Good looking boys. Hope they follow in their father’s footsteps.

Flo on

Doubt that, hope they watch their weight, even tho they like to cook. Can’t be healthy. When you carry that much weight around your middle , talking about the dad

Deanna on

He is awesome …his kids are beautiful !!!!!
We are all different people !!!!!!!

Gail on

Mario needs to lose some major weight…he is always eating on the show, more than the others…

Guest on

Nice looking family. I’m sure Mario is very proud of them. They both have a skill they can take into the future if being a chef is where they want to have a career.

whatever on

…he has a wife?

Kat on

Start with replacing the ground chuck with something more 93%/7% ground sirloin.

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