Video Of The Week: The High Road With Mario Batali

A month or so ago, I taped an episode of The High Road With Mario Batali. We went to the Frick Museum, we bowled in the basement of the Frick, we ate grilled cheese sandwiches, and we rode around on the upper level of a double decker bus. Mario asked me a bunch of questions along the way. It’s about ten minutes long and it came out well. I apologize in advance for the ads at the start and in the middle.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    Digging those shades, bro. Stylin’

  2. Ricardo Parro

    Can’t watch it outside the U.S ๐Ÿ™

    1. Joseph K Antony

      Yep…bummer ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Joseph K Antony

          Many thanks. have used this before, but had doubts about that you have pointed it out, going for it. Thanks again

      1. Ricardo Parro

        Thanks @wmoug:disqus !

  3. JimHirshfield

    “No robbering or baroning”… Great quote… Very complimentary.

  4. Salt Shaker

    So, who re-set the pins?Not sure which is better, the art in the Frick or the building itself. Must see for any visitor to NYC.

    1. JimHirshfield

      The whole video is a great ad for NYC. And I mean that in a good way.

      1. LE

        I’m tired of this whole “iconic ny” thing going on.Like everything and anything that has been around is “iconic”.According to google trends, things began to spike in 2009 with those phrases, strange. [1] I wonder why that is.I really liked this video. [2] But I’m not certain this is a great ad for NYC.There are museums in every city and I wouldn’t say that while people visit museums they really care that much about them (in gross numbers). I’m sure more people would rather have a seat in the audience of SNL or the set of some network show than they would go to the Frick museum and pretend to care about some old masters paintings.[1]…[2] Because Fred was in it and I was just at Eataly for the first time. Other than that, because I’m not obsessed with food and eating, Batali isn’t on my radar at all. (Nor are any celebrity chefs I just want food that tastes good to me. I’m like my mom with cars. There is no famous chef halo in my brain. Sauce and cheese can put the party in my brain.)

        1. JimHirshfield

          Other cities… trending… Museums… Whatever. None of that takes away from the fact that it’s a great ad for NYC nor that there are other great cities, most notably, yours.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Eataly rocks. We have a huge one in Chicago now. (and great grilled cheese)

          2. awaldstein

            Great concept, well executed.In NYC I almost never go there as there are limitless options everywhere else. That includes wine of course.

          3. LE

            A great ad for NYC would be best determined by someone who isn’t a resident of NYC and who doesn’t actually know the city that well. (The “idiot”). Or maybe someone with a puny brain like me (the ability to think down a few levels). If you are living in NYC you are already there. You don’t need no ads.You know to much about the city so your brain is going to gloss over things and chunk them unlike a newbie who doesn’t know.In all seriousness this is a big problem in some marketing. When I bought my “first world problem” car intially I was amazed at how bad of a job they did selling it (to me) because they knew it so well they couldn’t see it (the product) from a customer perspective.This is the core of the “dumbest person in the office” concept that I have espoused, exclusively on this blog.Philly is a fine city (much better than it was years ago after all we now have tons of restaurants) but NYC “goes on forever”. As someone who gets bored easily I like the fact that NYC has so much and you would never get bored. In Philly we have, say, Old City, Rittenhouse square, Fairmount park, a this and a that. Oh yeah, Penn Campus etc. But NYC has 50 times that.That said if you want to send some of those Chinese and Asian real estate buyers to drop the dime 90 miles south that would be appreciated greatly!. (We aren’t even clued in enough to try and market to those buyers so we can feast on the yuan.)

    2. JimHirshfield

      Cellar gremlins

  5. William Mougayar

    Here’s a very easy way to watch it outside of the US. Install the in your browser or smartphone. It’s free. The easiest is to choose the Chrome extension and make the location as USA.

    1. Brandon G. Donnelly


  6. William Mougayar

    It was daring explaining blockchains to such a wide audience.

    1. pointsnfigures

      better to explain it. maybe their creativity gets sparked….youneverknow

    2. JimHirshfield

      If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough, to paraphrase Einstein.

      1. LE

        I had to listen to it twice to even understand the point. And I’m not seeing how having or not having a lawyer enters into it either (from the way presented).As far as what Einstein said I think the test would be if you explain it simply to a man on the street (or Batali) are they able to echo back reasonably the concept to you. This would be similar to the “Old grey whistle test” with music. [1] Or my “dumbest person in the office” test. [2]When they got the first pressing of a record they would play it to people they called the old greysโ€”doormen in grey suits. The songs they could remember and whistle, having heard it just once or twice, had passed the old grey whistle test[1]…[2] Design direct marketing piece and show it to the dumbest person in the office, grab it away quickly, and see if they can tell you what it’s about.

        1. JimHirshfield

          The lawyer part is Batali being flippant and trying to be funny. Easier for Fred to roll with that than take a deeper dive in what is meant to be a more lighthearted piece.As for your direct marketing test… Doesn’t that make the dumbest person in the office aware that you think they’re the dumbest person in the office? Consequences?

          1. LE

            Doesn’t that make the dumbest person in the office aware that you think they’re the dumbest person in the office? Consequences?Have you had your coffee this morning! If so was it decaf?Sure we would go up to them “hey stupid” and it’s well known that said idiot is the idiot in the office. And we left the door open and we were laughing out loud. This was in the 80’s and you could get away with almost any shit with reckless abandon! (I remember sending my girlfriend (who worked for me) out to pickup my laundry and telling her “you get paid to work here why does it matter what you do?”. I remember laughing at a guy who helped his wife with the dishes. (It was the 80’s remember wham?) (He never forgot that by the way but who cares..)Anyway in all seriousness I never shared with anyone why I was doing what I was doing. I never used the words “ha ha ha stupidest person in the office” obviously knowing that loose lips sink ships. (Even in the 80’s).Easier for Fred to roll with thatI guess from my perspective some of this appeared to be the blind leading the blind. Reminds me of when I say things to my wife (that she doesn’t know about) and she doesn’t challenge me on. I actually don’t like that I’d wish she didn’t just hear some comment and go with it as gospel.For example I was going to make a comment such that when Frick bought his art it probably was pretty cheap. But then I decided to at least test that theory out and found that it was pretty expensive even back then [1].[1]

          2. JimHirshfield

            #humorAppreciate the details. Can I ask your opinion on some direct marketing pieces I’m working on?

          3. LE


    3. awaldstein

      I honestly feel that the mass market adopts what it can use not necessarily what it understands.Although, well explained for certain.

  7. Steve Poland

    Well done. You also blew my mind with space. Here I just thought going to space would be for glamour — but shooting me into space from NYC and dropping me down in LA an hour later.. Practical. Wow.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Yeah… I’m gonna pass on being an early adopter on this one.

  8. Jorge M. Torres

    Surprising stuff you learn about Fred from this video:”It’s almost all gut. It really is.”He threw the gutter ball.Oh, and someone needs to tell Mario that VC is not a real job.

    1. pointsnfigures

      I liked that comment a lot. Trading your own money is similar. Data, data, data, data, but eventually you have to take a risk-and that comes from your gut. I remember talking to people that wanted to be traders and they wondered what “system” I had. I had a system to analyze some stuff, but in the heat of the moment it was all gut. You have to be wiling to put your head on the chopping block.

      1. LE

        The gut is just the compressed data compiled over the years which you are able to retrieve and act on in a pinch. And draw conclusions from. And make a decision.For example I heard with some traders that they had a sense of the market by the noise and activity level on the floor. Maybe even the movement of the different players (physical movement, jerkiness, smoothness etc.) Similar to when I go into a restaurant (that I don’t know about) I can tell from the background activity level that it will be busy later on and that it’s a “good” restaurant (because it will be busy later). People buzzing about, things getting ready. Has a certain feel to it. That is gut. Confidence of the staff and so on.The thing is I’d have a hard time interpreting signals (such as I described) on the trading floor (since I haven’t spent any time there!). But you (iirc what you did) know that because you’ve built up the data over time so you can act on it.I have a gut as far as things I get by email because I have so many years reading signals sent by email. And also by interpreting voice and facial signals. So this all becomes gut. The nuance matters. It becomes seat of the pants and pattern matching basically.

    2. fredwilson

      I suck at bowling

        1. Alex Murphy

          perhaps just the beer

  9. pointsnfigures

    @HowardLindzon wants to make “Kingpin 2” with you.

  10. kirklove

    That was fantastic, Buster.And to think in 50 years – Bean will go visit your collection. #Legacy

    1. fredwilson

      Unlikely that our collection is museum worthy. But its cool to think that way

      1. kirklove

        Ha. Wasn’t thinking art. That’s nice and all…I was picturing monitors with Twitter and Tumblr, etcSome vintage Etsy findsA few Toscano dishesSome sweet SoundCloud playlists.And a big sign welcoming people that just said “Yessssssss!”That be more what Bean would want and more you.PS: #MakeShit

        1. fredwilson

          Oh hell yes!

  11. Twain Twain

    <3 the Frick Museum. It doesn’t get the same attention as the Guggenheim, MOMA and Whitney but is an oasis of art in the middle of the metropolis that’s NYC.

  12. Dale Allyn

    Very well done. Thanks for sharing it. And as @JimHirshfield:disqus mentioned, a great PR ad for NYC and the Frick (as a compliment).

  13. Mark

    awesome Fred!

  14. Dave Pinsen

    This concept reminds me a bit of the Iconaclasts series on Showtime, where they paired two interesting people from different fields. One of those pairings included Mario Batali (with Michael Stipe).

  15. curtissumpter

    It’s a great video. That grilled cheese truck looks awesome. I downloaded an app to try to find it but the app didn’t inspire much confidence since it told me that I could find it at a location it admits is a week old. And who knew Fred Wilson was kind of a bad ass. Pretty cool video.

  16. LE

    “If you love cars you’ll drive..”Actually when things come to a certain tipping point it can become non practical for a manufacturer to offer a certain product (because the market has shifted so much). [1][1] An example of this is Porsche moving from offering manual transmissions to offering only PDK’s (or some variation like that) even though there are many in the market that only want a manual (such as myself):http://www.motorauthority.c

    1. JimHirshfield

      Oiy vey, the list of first world problems just got lengthier.

  17. Robert Heiblim

    Its a great project. My good friend the talented #damonwebster worked the production. Batali is a great Jerseyan and great entrepreneur. Plus his food is tasty

    1. Alex Murphy

      Batali = great entrepreneur = because he makes great stuff!

  18. LE

    I fully understand that people have to make money in order to offer content. But whoever inserted the ads in the length and duration that they did needs to have their head examined. 10 minute video way way way to many ads. Not to mention the media buyers (and the brands) who obviously have no clue of how annoying it is (and bad for the brand) when they overdo things like was done in this video.

    1. Alex Murphy

      it was pretty good timing though for the midroll. They cut it in right at a climatic moment.

    2. fredwilson


    3. Emily Merkle


  19. LE

    Tour Guide: “Frick was a sporting man he knew the place to workout so he built himself a bowling alley”Sure bowling alley, what a great exercise workout that is.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Balls are heavy.

      1. LE

        Teabags are heavy.

  20. Lee Greenhouse

    Fred, my mom took me to the Frick when I was kid. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed in because I was only 11 and you had to be 12 to get in. I’ve had a grudge against the Frick ever since, but maybe I’ll give it a second chance, even if they still won’t let me bowl.

    1. LE

      I wasn’t allowed in because I was only 11Do they carbon date people at the door?That’s known as a what I call a “boat question”. [1] A question that you have to know the answer they are looking for before you answer it. You can usually tell that very easily. Sometimes it’s even phrased a certain way (or obviously put on some sign somewhere).[1] Dates back to when my father came to this country and got off the boat and the answers to the questions determined many things of future value.

    2. fredwilson

      Hi Lee – you should go. Its an amazing place

    3. feargallkenny

      We live on the street it is on and my kids (all under 10) all bear a grudge that they can’t get in!

  21. Varsha Adusumilli

    I cannot play Hulu in India!

  22. bobmonsour

    Good call going with the “Classic.”

    1. fredwilson

      I didn’t consider anything else

  23. Naren T Gizmodude

    Fred am from India and it doesn’t let me watch uour video.

  24. vruz

    Not available outside of the US. ๐Ÿ™

  25. jason wright

    upon finally penetrating the web defenses of the US i found this to be a quirkily pleasing vignette of NYC. the black and white was refreshing. it makes you look younger.

  26. Richard

    The zuckerberg frick analogy is somewhat flawed. Frick was much less a visionary than a master bottom line operation man (with much blood on his hands). Carnegie seems to be much more of the visionary.

    1. LE

      “Carnegie seems to be much more of the visionary.”Being a visionary is somewhat like the stock picking trick. [1] It’s a bias toward something that appears after the fact.If you have a pool of enough people trying enough things in the end some of those people will end up being anointed as visionaries because the things that they picked to do ended up working out.[1] You pick 100 stocks somewhat randomly and then cold call people (divided into arbitrary groups) telling them you have a stock pick but you don’t want to sell them anything today. Then a month later (or whatever) you call the people where the stock went up and ignore the rest. You say “see I was right” then you try to sell them something.

      1. awaldstein

        Not true for Gates.

        1. LE

          I think it’s pretty well acknowledged that Gates was not only in the right place at the right time (and of course recognized an opportunity) but also had a pretty good nuclear weapon.His mother was friends with John Opel of IBM as they both were on the board of the Red Cross.Here’s the sanitized Wikipedia version (notice the softening of what happened):Beyond the Seattle area, Gates was appointed to the board of directors of the national United Way in 1980, becoming the first woman to lead it in 1983. Her tenure on the national board’s executive committee is believed to have helped Microsoft, based in Seattle, at a crucial time. In 1980, she discussed with John Opel, a fellow committee member who was the chairman of the International Business Machines Corporation, her son’s company. Mr. Opel, by some accounts, mentioned Mrs. Gates to other I.B.M. executives.Of course if anyone wants to believe that Gates could have pulled off what he did (richest guy in the world) without his mother’s contact at IBM (the most powerful guy actually) go ahead and think that. And it’s not like that means he wouldn’t have been worth a shit wad of money or wouldn’t have hustled something else. And been quite successful. He would have. And having a contact is not the same as closing a deal obviously (things had to be right). But an intro like that is a pretty big jump on someone that doesn’t have that connection.Look everyone has a certain luck this, and a luck that, for sure. But some advantages are worth their weight in bitcoin.Guy that bought my first business got a nice contract at UofP his uncle (an investor) knew someone on the board. He got a contract soon after the purchase, something that I could never do (and I was an alumni which didn’t mean jack squat to the purchasing department).That said after he was established according to this he was quite the visionary (at least up until the point of the Internet):http://blogs.computerworld….

          1. awaldstein

            I actually meant to say Jobs but competing directly against both of them for a number of years directly, I think both actually.About 5 or so years ago, I considered taking a position with a great startup and one of the people was from early Microsoft. He said that he felt that we at CREAF were just lucky, taking advantage of a situation and just ran with it.My response was that if starting with 10 mailbags of developer BRCs, a good-enough product and zero revenue we went to $1B a year and sold 87M cards in 48 months, not to mention chips and 5 other product lines was pure luck, than hey I just went for the ride.Obviously decided not to work with them;)

          2. LE

            taking advantage of a situation and just ran with it.My saying is of course that business is about taking advantage of “the low hanging fruit of opportunity”. Or even “riding the wave” that comes along.To repeat: “Is about”.To wit, exactly this::if starting with 10 mailbags of developer BRCs, a good-enough product and zero revenue we went to $1B a year and sold 87M cards in 48 months, not to mention chips and 5 other product linesMost business is not Howard Schultz and Starbucks. It’s more Ray Kroc and “grind it out”. (Where much success goes to the guy Sonnenborg who decided to own all the real estate.)Creative Labs logo still on the wall (with other late 80’s early 90’s logos like Okidata) at Micro Center retail. Sad carcass of a once great store and fun place to browse for hours.

          3. awaldstein

            A once great is so true.At one time Creaf was bigger than AOL and we tried to convince the owners in Asia unsuccessfully to buy them–crazy.We also tried unsuccessfully–and that is when I left–to move the brand online when the reality of the tie to hardware was no longer. We handed off that huge opportunity to the obvious other.

  27. Semil Shah

    Man, this is so cool. Saw this on GothamGal yesterday. Have you read “Heat” by Bill Buford? One of my favorite cooking books. (I used to work as a professional cook way back when.)

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. Mario is a trip in the best sense of that word

      1. Semil Shah

        My favorite scene in that book is when they’re all up in the northern Italian hills, hunting for boar that grazes on morels, mushrooms, pine nuts…and then they capture it and the old couple cooks it up and preserves the rest. Buford’s writing and Mario’s joy in the hunt and cooking is so bright.

  28. Marissa

    I love the Frick. I believe the living room is exactly as HCF left it.

  29. Spencer Fry

    Fun to watch this, Fred!

  30. bfeld

    Super wonderful. I loved the bowling scene.

    1. fredwilson

      You loved how poorly we both were ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. bfeld

        Well – as a guy who gets excited when he breaks 100, it looked like we are at about the same level.

  31. BillMcNeely

    I liked the video because it was just fun. And you got to see both guys in a casual setting.

  32. Emily Merkle

    72nd St. Y: Salman Rushdie / Hitchens.

  33. JLM

    .A star is born.Calm, cool, collected, sleek, witty, wise and grilled cheesy.Well played.JLM.

  34. Anne Libby


  35. feargallkenny

    Love the frick but we don’t go anymore as as they don’t allow kids under 10 so they can “maintain the ambience of the gallery”. Had no clue about the bowling alley so that was cool to see. Ironically implies that the owner was a big kid himself.

  36. feargallkenny

    The basement bowling alley reminded me of this place I was once invited to. The italian American gun club on macdougal street with a basement rifle range for target practice between courses.http://www.1000placestoeatb

  37. aminTorres

    In 10 years I’ve lived in the city, never been to the Frick Museum.After seeing this, going to make my way up there today.

  38. Tom Labus

    What a location too. We were there last Winter to see The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

  39. paramendra

    This is your best video to date by a wide margin. ๐Ÿ™‚ Made me smile multiple times.I found a few additional things we have in common. (1) I also think the earth’s surface is the most fascinating part of the universe. I am not big on space. I mean, not for me. But my favorite YouTube videos are all about the universe out there. I don’t want to go, but I do want to watch and read upon. (2) I also tend to go for the “classic” on the menu when it is so featured.For the longest time I did not know you were not an Apple fanboy. (I am neither). It was counterintuitive. I am a huge fan of Steve Jobs, but I have never bought an Apple product. And in terms of sheer impact, Steve Jobs has nothing on Larry Page.

  40. paramendra

    Stay away from art. Stick to angel investing.

  41. paramendra

    I’d rather be in NYC than on Mars. Must would be on Mars.

  42. ira

    I actually thought the pre-roll from Hyundai was hilarious.

  43. Brian Lund

    I really enjoyed that. Great piece Fred.