Celebrity chef Mario Batali indelicately compared "the entire banking industry" to "Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys" at a Time panel on Tuesday. A poor choice of metaphor, for sure—especially when you consider that bankers make up a significant portion of the customer base at Batali's high-end New York restaurants. Even more so when you consider what crybabies bankers are.
It should go without saying that "the entire banking industry" is hardly the equivalent of "Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys"—it is sociopathic and wantonly destructive, to be sure, but banks have never made the trains run on time. And Batali's point is more about the effect that "the evil guys" have on the world—with respect to Time's Man of the Year choice—than it is about calling bankers genocidal maniacs:
I would have to say that who has had the largest effect on the whole planet without us really paying attention across the board and everywhere is the entire banking industry and their disregard for the people that they're supposed to be working for….So the ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys…They're not heroes, but they are people that had a really huge effect on the way the world is operating.
The specifics of the quote hardly matter, though, given that our finance wizards are among the most sensitive people on the planet. Instead of brushing the odd metaphor off their expensively-suited shoulders (Grand Cru under the bridge, so to speak), instead of stopping for a second and counting all of their money, instead of realizing that the entire planet hates them, so really why care about a single be-Croc'd chef, instead of sending each other this GIF, they took to Twitter to voice their objections, telling Batali that they wouldn't be dining at Del Posto, or Babbo, or Otto, or shopping at Eataly. Eater NY received a tip about a text message allegedly circulating among the Margin Call set:
Now, a source said the following message went around trading floors worldwide at 3:13 PM and "went viral" as traders passed it along their speed dial lists:
Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Says Bankers As Bad As Hitler, Stalin ... a list of his restaurants *B&B Ristorante *Osteria Mozza *Babbo *OTTO *Bar Jamon *Pizzeria Mozza *Carnevino Italian Steakhouse *Tarry Lodge *Casa Mono *Tarry Market *Del Posto *Mozza2Go *Esca *Manzo *Lupa Cancel all reservations.....pass the word.
Meanwhile, the comment threads on Batali's Bloomberg terminal restaurant pages (an eGullet for the monied class) are swelling with over one hundred new posts on Babbo and Del Posto alone.
The threat, real or imagined, of losing all that good finance-industry business led to a quick Twitter apology from Batali ("it was never my intention," blah blah blah). After all, who's going to buy all those overpriced wines? As for the bankers who couldn't stand to spend their money at the delicious restaurants of a guy who vaguely compared them to 20th-century dictators, take it from a blogger: if you only patronized businesses that approved of your career, you wouldn't last very long. Haters gonna hate, bros.