Must be nice to have star chef Mario Batali’s email on hand, as comedian Jim Gaffigan learned this week. The funny showman shared a touching story on Instagram Wednesday, in which he asked a vacationing Batali for an anniversary dinner recommendation in New York City. The catch: His wife Jeannie could only eat liquids after undergoing successful surgery to remove a life-threatening brain tumor.
I realize we live in strange, maybe even mean times. Like you, I read the news daily shaking my head with horror how humans treat other humans. But there are some amazing people out there. When @jeanniegaffigan was diagnosed with a brain tumor so many friends, family and strangers stepped up to offer meals, help, encouragement and prayers. It really blew me away. Thank you so much for everything. One friend was @mariobatali who with his wife Suzi sent over numerous elaborate gourmet meals to feed me, the kids and our helpers. Last week I emailed Mario asking him to hep me find a place for our 14th wedding anniversary. I was trying to find a nice place for us to celebrate but given Jeannie can not comfortably eat solids I was hoping to find a place that did amazing soups (yes,in July.) I knew Mario was on vacation but I hoped he could point me in the right direction. Mario responded insisting that we come to @delposto and that he would make sure we were well taken care of. When we arrived we saw that Mario had created a custom tasting menu of various gourmet soups with accompanied wines or cocktails. Of course the whole experience was insanely amazing but the generosity of kindness and compassion by Mario was most moving. Thanks Mario
Rather than send the Gaffigans to another restaurant, Batali “responded insisting that we come to Del Posto [which Batali owns] and that he would make sure we were well taken care of,” Gaffigan wrote. “When we arrived we saw that Mario had created a custom tasting menu of various gourmet soups with accompanied wines or cocktails. Of course the whole experience was insanely amazing but the generosity of kindness and compassion by Mario was most moving.”
The seven-course, entirely liquid menu included pea soup with pecorino cheese, seafood broth with marjoram, pig meat consomme, liquid pear with Thai basil syrup, and more. Jeannie Gaffigan shared a photo of her own on Instagram along with her appreciation.
For Batali’s part, he tells Eater in an email, “It went well. Jeannie finally got to eat a meal perfectly suitable for her difficulties. Chef Melissa is the hero; she actually made the soups and made it happen physically!”
That’s Melissa Rodriguez, who is now Del Posto’s executive chef. Rodriguez has a history of finding unique solutions to food problems — she’s the one who spearheaded the Italian fine dining restaurant’s vegan and gluten-free options.