Mario Batali is one of the people who put the “celebrity” in “celebrity chef.” It makes sense, then, that on his Hulu series, The High Road With Mario Batali, he spends all of each 10 minute episode with someone else who wears that word as a descriptor–often through an unlikely path (ast and future guests include Isabella Rossellini, Liv Tyler, Jimmy Fallon, and George Stephanopoulos). In the latest episode, that includes celebrity venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who rose to fame for being at least 15 minutes ahead of the rest of his peers in identifying trends worth investing in (i.e. Twitter).
In each episode, Batali and his guest travel the city atop an open-air double-decker bus, where Batali conducts his interview. “There’s something very amusing about playing the ‘tourist’ in your own city,” he says. “Problem is, I’m usually too fascinated by the conversation to take it all in.”
The conversation with Wilson veers quickly into the sort of big ideas that Wilson is known for–Batali asks him what the future holds, and Wilson offers a handful of very specific things he’s interested in (“block chains,” or Bitcoin-like transactions; self-driving cars; passenger trips into space; high-speed terrestrial travel) while Batali looks on fascinated.
“Fred’s exceedingly successful career was built on believing in big ideas that, I suspect, most people deemed crazy and ridiculous at first,” Batali tells us. “As difficult as it is to wrap my head around a self-driving car, I’m willing to bet Fred is on to what we will soon consider regular.”
The 10-minute, black-and-white shot episode is on Hulu now, and features–in addition to the talk atop the bus–a visit to the Frick Collection, the Upper East Side museum that houses the once-private art collection of turn-of-the-century industrialist Henry Frick (whom Batali is eager to compare to Wilson). Visiting an iconic attraction is part of The High Road, Batali explains. “I have a wish list of iconic New York locales and concepts I discuss with guests when I first ask them to join,” he says. “But I also ask the guests to tell me where in NYC they dream of visiting. We usually choose theirs.”