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Food Arts Co-Founder Michael Batterberry Dies at 78

Magazine's editor-in-chief and publisher helped shape the growth of America’s food, restaurant and hospitality universe

Posted: July 29, 2010

Michael Batterberry, one of America’s most influential editors and writers on food and restaurants, passed away July 28 at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York after a lengthy illness. He was 78.

Just over two months ago, the Batterberrys—Michael, co-founder/editor-in-chief/publisher of Food Arts, and his wife Ariane Batterberry, Food Arts’ founding editor/publisher—received the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010, a public affirmation of their major role in nurturing and shaping the surging growth of the American food, restaurant and hospitality universe.

Michael Batterberry created two milestone national food magazines: Food Arts (1988)—the influential, award-winning publication for the restaurant and hotel trades that has won the coveted Folio Gold “Eddie” B2B awards numerous times and is now published by M. Shanken Communications—and Food & Wine (1978), a leading consumer publication.

“Michael played a key role in the advancement of America's culinary culture," said Marvin R. Shanken, who brought Food Arts magazine into the M. Shanken Communications group in 1989. "Thanks to his vast knowledge and creativity, his legacy in the food world will live on for generations to come."

Batterberry was born April 8, 1932, in England, where he lived until he was about 7, when he and his family moved to Cincinnati. He led a picaresque life before beginning his career in food journalism; he was a cabaret singer in Rome, a sketch artist for the Paris Review and worked on numerous Italian films. At various times he also lived in France and Venezuela.

Singly or with Ariane, he wrote 18 books on food, art and social history. Their On the Town in New York (1973) was long the standard history of dining in the city.

Batterberry pioneered efforts to unite chefs, restaurateurs and farmers in a mutual nationwide support system that also serves to advance the cause of sustainable agriculture. He served on numerous boards and advisory boards, including those of the French Culinary Institute, the Culinary Institute of America (as a Fellow of the Institute), the American Institute of Wine and Food, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, the Rockefeller-sponsored Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, New York University’s Department of Food & Nutrition Studies, Wholesome Wave, Heritage Foods U.S.A., and Spoons Across America, among others. Michael also served as chairman of the food education committee for “Food Culture USA!” the principle theme of the Smithsonian’s 2005 Folklife Festival on the Washington Mall, which drew more than 1 million visitors.

Along with Ariane, Michael’s awards and citations include the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who in Food and Beverage in America, the International Food & Beverage Forum’s Hall of Fame, Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) Honorary Hall of Fame, the Culinary Institute of America’s Masters of Hospitality award, and the Madrid Fusión award, presented by the mayor of Madrid, for having propelled the course of the American Food Revolution. He has appeared often on national and international TV as a commentator on culinary and restaurant business trends and has performed as introductory host to the Public Television series Rising Star Chefs.

Batterberry is survived by his wife, Ariane, and his sister Anne Walsh of Princeton, N.J.


Please watch the James Beard Award video tribute to the Batterberrys' achievements, along with Michael Batterberry sharing his memories of Julia Child in our Celebrating Julia series.



Peter Meltzer
New York, NY —  July 29, 2010 4:54pm ET
He was a great friend, a mentor and above all, a culinary visionary. Michael burned brightly on the altar of experience. He will be missed.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  July 30, 2010 12:59pm ET
Truly a class act and indeed a visionary who appreciated all the nuances of fine dining. I'd often drop in on him in his office when visiting New York. Always nattily attired, warm and gracious, the one thing I'll never forget is this: In an era when computers ruled the publishing world, he wrote all his stories out in long hand. You don't see that style much anymore these days.
bill Milne
new york ny —  July 30, 2010 3:21pm ET
Micheal was a man whom I was proud to know. From the early days he treated me so kindly and respected my work. I never wanted to let him down. His presence will be missed in our industry but we will always have the memories of time spent together.
Keith Scott
Napa, CA —  August 1, 2010 2:12am ET
I had the privilege of walking the same hallways as Mr. Batterberry during my tenure at Wine Spectator.

Beyond the jolt of pride I experienced as a result of being in close proximity to such a maven, I was continually impressed by the gentlemanly demeanor that he wore so comfortably, that he inhabited so authentically.

I am deeply sorry to learn of his passing, and grateful to have known him as even a passing acquaintance.
David L Ross
New York, NY —  August 2, 2010 8:11am ET
Until his passing, Michael was our Rabelais, Restif, and Brillat-Savarin all in one, a true "connaisseur" of taste.

I was lucky enough to work with him on a number of Food Arts articles over the years and his sure, yet light touch as an editor was genuinely inspiring.

I have nothing less than un-alloyed admiration for him and the editors and photographers he assembled to create a truly magnificent magazine issue after issue.

I will miss him so much.

David Lincoln Ross

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