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.