For Joe Bastianich, co-owner of Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group (B&B) and partner of Eataly New York, life and businesses are based around beauty, longevity, pleasure and well-being.
This story first appeared in the June 3, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
B&B, which operates Eataly, in addition to three wineries in Italy and 18 restaurants in the U.S., is co-owned by Bastianich’s mother, chef Lidia Bastianich and Iron Chef Mario Batali.
Eataly — part restaurant, part Italian market — offers wine, homemade pastas, cheeses and a host of gourmet groceries. “It’s the best of the best of all things Italian,” said Bastianich.
A winemaker himself, Bastianich explained the origins of wine consumption, revealing that prehistoric cavemen would drink fermented berry juice because the water they were drinking was making them ill.
“Out of necessity is born art,” said Bastianich, who passed out samples of a full-bodied red wine during his presentation and compared its olfactive similarities to fragrance.
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When drawing parallels between the food and wine industry and the beauty industry, Bastianich, a James Beard award winner and judge on Fox’s reality show “MasterChef,” said neither are necessary for human survival and can “only exist when basic needs are met.”
“They are things that make life a little better,” said Bastianich, who added that both the wine and beauty industries have recently posted close to $300 billion in annual revenue. “And they continue to grow,” he said.
As images of Spam cans projected behind him, Bastianich gave a breakdown of the modern American food industry and how it has evolved from simple foods to “highly processed factory food” to the eventual organic craze backlash. He named the advent of overnight delivery as the biggest game changer in the American food industry, and one that led to “an explosion of global food trends.”
“[In the Nineties we began to ask] where does my food come from and how did it get here,” remarked Bastianich. “This is a trend that will go into the future.” In that vein, Bastianich revealed the importance of clarity when it comes to food standards and what terminology is used. “[The term] natural” has no bearing other than people want to hear it,” he said. “[Consumers] want to know what they are buying. They want to know the certification and what it means.” Bringing the conversation back to beauty, Bastianich said any product should “speak from its origins, or it really does nothing.”