How Food Became Pop Culture

Mario Batali in Lucky Peach:

Suddenly, going out to an interesting meal became as significant a piece of entertainment in northern California as going to the opera. Food came to the forefront of culture and people talked about it and enjoyed it. Then Wolfgang Puck stormed in and made it very hip to go out to dinner in Los Angeles—not just to eat but to be seen. Suddenly, the nexus of society moved from the inner circle at the opera house to the five cool tables at Spago. It was important for the rich and baronial to be in the rich and baronial spot or they would be mocked by their peers.

And then the Food Network came along with guys like Emeril {2}. That’s when, all of a sudden, a lot of voices and personalities came out. There were some that were very successful and there were some that weren’t. There are hundreds of shows that I could list where there was someone on TV for a little while, and then they were gone. But what happened when these chefs started appearing on TV is that people would have a favorite cook in the same way someone would have a favorite first baseman. Then they would go to those chefs’ restaurants and they learned that these different points of view were there. Mine happened to be kind of traditional basic Italian. Emeril’s was New Orleans and “Hey you, wake up, bam! I’m gonna show you how to impress your family, your chicks, whomever it is that you want to impress.”



Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit

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