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Mario Batali on Gwyneth Paltrow: ‘She’s Very Much Like You and I’

Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow
Mario Batali says Gwyneth Paltrow is "very much like you and I" 

Gwyneth Paltrow is one of those people who just seems too perfect with her good looks, cute family, successful movie career, and recent foray into the role of food and lifestyle guru with her blog and two best-selling cookbooks. Since she was recently named the world’s most beautiful woman, however, critics have been picking on the 40-year-old more than usual, citing everything from her comments about putting her kids on a low-carb diet to her now-famous $60 olive oil recommendation.

But her good pal, celebrity chef Mario Batali, says she may be perfect, but she's actually just like the rest of us.

"Anybody who gets called the most perfect person in the world is going to take a little heat. But at the end of the day, she's very much like you and I. She likes delicious food, she watches out for her family. She takes care of herself as best she can and it's a great thing," the TV host and restaurateur told omg! recently.

The two met when Paltrow started frequenting Batali's New York restaurant Babbo back when it first opened in the late '90s. "She loves to eat and she's also the kind of person that will talk to the chef because she wants to know a couple of tricks," Batali explained. "And she's an inviting and happy person so I started talking to her in the dining room and pretty soon we were going out to dinner separately, outside of my restaurant just to be friends and hang around. Now we're very close family friends."

The two even took a "road trip" to Spain together a few years back to shoot the PBS series "Spain … on the Road Again," and now Batali and his family get together with Paltrow and hers (which includes her rocker husband, Chris Martin, and kids, Apple and Moses) whenever the Oscar winner is in New York.

As for the criticism she gets, Batali says it's unwarranted and chalks it up to plain-old media scrutiny. "The whole no-carbs thing was blown out of case because her son has a gluten allergy," "The Chew" co-host explained. "The whole thing about [her being] picky about this and about that and her food is a bad day on a bad day. She doesn't have very many bad days, but they're always looking to do something against her. She's, quite honestly, one of the great models."

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While Gwyneth may be one of the celebrities who has impressed the pro the most in the kitchen, there are a few famous fellas that are also on Batali's list.

"I would say amongst my favorite celebrities that have cooked for me, [Bush frontman and Gwen Stefani’s husband] Gavin Rossdale is another great one," he revealed. "Jimmy Kimmel is another great one."

Is there anyone who could use a little help in the kitchen? "Jimmy Fallon. Not such a great cook, but a great guy and a great host."

With all of the Hollywood hobnobbing that Batali does (not to mention the fact he's a celebrity in his own rite and has spent the last 16 years on television), the 52-year-old has never managed to become interested in one serious pastime of the stars: fashion. And no, that Patagonia vest you always see him wearing has no special meaning.

"My vest and fashion in general to me means absolutely nothing. I wear it because it's comfortable," he insisted. "I love the idea of going into my closet very much like the Pope of Greenwich Village way back in the day and looking through it. But in fact, there are just 10 cargo shorts, 10 vests, and 10 oxford shirts. I like the idea of a uniform because I really don't bother with fashion. But that said, I think it looks good, and it holds a microphone very nicely."

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