There’s one thing that journalists and baby boomers have in common, and it’s making fun of jobless millenials who graduated with useless majors. (Reports of schadenfreude have skyrocketed since the recent string of college graduations last weekend.) But who should step in to defend the useless major — or to at least make give depressed millenials hope — than Mario Batali, a Very Successful Man with handfuls of restaurants, a gourmet Italian food chain, television shows like whoa, and an evil twin on Saturday Night Live?
As he told Yahoo! Finance in a recent profile of his business life, not only did he realize soon after graduation that his degree was useless, he also mentioned that he’d dropped out of cooking school, too — another trend encouraged by certain millenials (cough, Mark Zuckerberg, cough):
At Rutgers, Batali studied Finance and Spanish Theater of the Golden Age. He graduated in 1982. “After that, of course there were no jobs in Spanish Theater of the Golden Age,” he said. But cooking to satisfy those late-night cravings led him to study at Le Cordon Bleu, the venerable French cooking institution. It didn’t last.
“I dropped out of Cordon Bleu due to impatience and foolishness. I just thought it was moving too slowly because I thought I was a big shot chef. And in fact I was wrong. And I should’ve gone all the way through the program,” he said.
“The only thing I regret about not finishing it is that the record shows that I didn’t finish something that I started. When my children say, ‘Dad, but you didn’t finish,’ I’m like ‘I almost finished!’ he said in mock indignation. “Not a really good lesson. But I was able to survive merely by cooking with really good people. And cooking in real restaurants is where you see what you need to know to cook. It hasn’t affected my overall success pattern, I don’t think,” he said.
First, can we all agree that we like Mario Batali talking to Cookie Monster more than we’d like Mario Batali droning on about The Widow of Valencia or whatever?
Second, if Mario Batali had graduated from college in the past five years (instead of those halcyon, coked-up ’80s), who knows if he’d end up just as successful as he is now. Overall lesson: stay in school, because the economy does not always allow Italian chefs to succeed.
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