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Molto Mario: Selling Pans, Selling... Out?

Just in time (wait for it...) to accompany the impending Molto Mario Madness, as the man in clogs takes over as NASCAR's official chef and goes on the television circuit to promote it, comes today's Mario Batali profile, in Time (...zing!) Magazine.

It's a little bit skeptical, a little bit arch, and just a little bit flattering. Mostly, though, it's thorough. See Mario at the Chicago Home and Housewares Show. See him taking his kids to work. See him riding his Vespa to one of his thirteen Manhattan restaurants (let's just gloss over Bistro du Vent, shall we?). See him throwing the green flag at the NASCAR Pocono Raceway. See him, across the table from former New Yorker editor and pasta-making-apprentice Bill Buford, saying to his wife: "You will eat the pasta -- or I will rub the shrimp across your breasts."

If it sounds all fun and games, it isn't. Apparently (who knew?), running restaurants is serious business, as is making a bazillion dollars a year on sales of duck testicle pasta and grilled bladder, which brings us, of course, to sales and money-making. And after delivering 517 episodes of Molto Mario! to the Food Network (filmed eight a day, back-to-back, with nine-minute breaks in between), Batali's moved on to pots, pans, and opening up in Vegas. And while the piece is quick to point out he's not quite selling out at the level of Lagasse or Puck, it all just seems a little bit...excessive.

Then again, from the man who says (and could believe) that "wretched excess is just barely enough," it all makes perfect sense. Do we understand Batali better from this article? Yes. Do we like him better? Undecided.

· Super Mario! [Time]