By mariayagoda
Updated December 19, 2019 01:22 AM
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Mario Batali - Food
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

After traveling across the country to research recipes for his latest cookbook, Mario Batali Big American Cookbook (out Oct. 4), the chef has a renewed appreciation for the glory of American cuisine.

And he’s not talking about the fancy, refined fare you’d find in many of his restaurants, but rather, the local delicacies you’d spot at state fairs, mom-and-pop shops and American sporting events.

“When I think of people talking s— about America, it’s only because they don’t ever get to go to a state fair or a Nascar race or a football game,” Batali said on Thursday at an event for his new cookbook. “Because anybody that ever got to go to that would never want to blow us up. They might want to move here, man.”

Batali, who wrote the cookbook Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style in 2006, told PEOPLE his favorite foods to eat — and make — when he has people over for football games.

“I like to make two things and buy two things. I tend to buy a shellfish-y or seafood thing — like smoked salmon or oysters or chowder — and then I’ll make something,” Batali says. “I like something like stromboli, or even a Trenton tomato pie. You can make them ahead because they’re good room temperature. You can make it that morning and then just pull it out and put on a couple of anchovies to mark your territory, so no one you don’t like will eat it.”

WATCH: Get a Peek of Mario Batali’s Home Kitchen!

As the seasons change, The Chew host is obsessing over slowly stewed meats and vegetables, especially chili, which happens to also make the perfect tailgating food. (Batali is fond of Cincinnati-style.)

“I’m really happy that we’ve stopped slicing things and putting salt on them, which I love all summer,” Batali said, embracing autumn with open arms. “I love acorn squash, pumpkin, baked squash with brown sugar.”

All we have to say is: Same.