OnlyOnAOL: Mario Batali cooks up Italian feast for final state dinner

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By: Donna Freydkin

For their final state dinner, this time hosting the Italian prime minister, Barack and Michelle Obama turned to one of our favorite chefs: Mario Batali.

According to the New York Times, the first lady stopped by Batali's Babbo and sampled dishes. As one does, when you're married to the leader of the free world.

Batali is the prince of inventive pasta. And yes, he's going to wear his orange crocs to the Tuesday gala. While we don't know what he's going to concoct, he did reveal a few dishy things while discussing his new release, "Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA."

In a perfect world, he'd keep things simple. "My favorite dessert is fresh blackberries and vanilla ice cream. It's my favorite thing to eat," he said.

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Mario Batali at AOL BUILD
Mario Batali at AOL BUILD
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He's never one to settle, or play it safe. "At least once a month, I follow someone's recipe to the letter," said Batali. "When you do that you expand your horizon as a cook at home."

And really, you don't need all those culinary bells and whistles to be a kitchen whiz.

"Technically, once you can make a pie crust and an omelet and some kind of bar or brownie, you're 80 percent of the way there," he says.

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