Chef Michael Batt has an enviable curriculum vitae. Patroon, Lespinasse and Windows on the World are some of the top-ranked Manhattan kitchens where Batt has honed his craft after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1990. But don’t let his upper crust gastronomic pedigree fool you into thinking he is an uptight artist at work. Chef Batt is the antithesis of the aloof chef. He’s affable and down-to-earth, a pleasure to talk to. And he just happens to be a master in the kitchen as well.
Recently, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Chef Batt and his wife and business partner, Gallia, chatting about their Greenwich based catering company, Food Design, and sampling some of their addictive appetizers.
“I love what we’re doing,” says Gallia of the couple’s catering business. “Every event is different. Every event is special. We tailor every detail to create exactly the menu and atmosphere the host wants to achieve. We bring someone else’s vision to life. And the people come away so happy, which is really satisfying.”
“My experience has been that restaurants—even great restaurants—really struggle to pay their bills,” explains Chef Batt after I ask why he left the world of four and five star restaurants to run a suburban catering business. “It’s a crazy amount of stress [owning and operating a restaurant]. You work 90 hours a week. Here, I can be creative, I can make great food and I can still have a life.”
And he does make great food. While they talk, I am invited to sample some of Chef Batt’s more popular finger foods. A few bites in and it is no mystery to me why the truffled risotto balls and tuna tartare in a light, crispy miso cone make Chef Batt’s Top Ten list of most delicious hors d’oeuvres. My favorite, however, is a four-cheese tartlet. It’s a mini masterpiece. Blended cheese is cradled in a tiny, savory pie crust lined with lingonberry jam and topped with cayenne pepper. It is a micro dish that packs a macro punch for your palate, starting off savory, moving to sweet and finishing with a pop of spice (courtesy of the cayenne pepper).
But according to the couple, Donald Trump would disagree with me. “We catered an event in Manhattan, and he just raved about the mini sliders,” Chef Batt laughs. “I was serving all this incredible stuff, but he couldn’t get enough of those sliders.” And while I’ve already pledged allegiance to the cheese tartlets, I can confirm: the sliders are delicious in a way that feels almost naughty. Tiny beef patties topped with cheese, pickle and a “special sauce,” they are a four star upgrade to the standard fast food burger.
The Batts don’t stop at event catering. “We do dinner deliveries locally,” explains Gallia. “We prepare fresh meals regularly, and customize them to accommodate our clients’ dietary needs. We offer all kinds of dishes, including gluten free, sugar free, vegan and plant based. Some other meal plans deliver on Monday and that’s it. So the salad you eat on Thursday was prepared days before, and it’s no longer fresh. Once you cut into broccoli, you lose vitamins. We offer truly fresh, truly tailored meal plans.”
The Batts are also rolling out a doctor-supervised cleanse for the New Year. “There’s no quick fix,” says Gallia of a dietary cleanse. “And if you’re going to eat a burger your first day off the cleanse, you really shouldn’t bother.” If, however, you’re looking to modify your diet to maintain the organ cleaning benefits their cleanse offers, the Batts can help. Once you have finished the typical five day cleanse—one pre-cleanse day, three days of actual cleansing, and one post-cleanse day—they say they can tailor a menu for you that can sustain any weight loss, provide increased energy and still taste delicious.
“It’s a fun challenge,” says Chef Batt of creating new, healthy dishes that please people who love a good meal and still watch their waste lines. “It requires creativity. And I love to be creative.”
Food Design is located at 28 Old Field Point Rd. in Greenwich and offers food services, catering and meal plans in both Fairfield and Westchester counties, as well as event planning and catering in Manhattan and some New Jersey venues. Call them at (203) 622-0725, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.