Alan Batt, better known simply as “Battman” built a career around his passions for the arts, photography, and food, while always capturing the pulse of New York.
Battman began working as a photographer in the early ‘80s. Soon, his shots of city scenes and landmarks were widely published as greeting cards. He spent the next decade chronicling the city as lead photographer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and two decades producing the New York City Firefighters’ calendar, raising nearly $1 million for charities like the Staten Island Burn Center.
Battman’s poster of 42nd Street provided the backdrop for the New Victory Theater’s groundbreaking ceremony. From the late ‘80s through 2014, 35 of his images were featured in a permanent exhibition on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building —and viewed by more than 3 million visitors annually.
To get the shots that were featured there and in places like The New York Times and NYC & Company, Battman climbed the Brooklyn Bridge cable, perched on an Empire State Building ice shield, and tunneled underground to snap the final breakthrough of the wall between the Second Avenue Subway and the F train.
He then turned to the culinary arts.
In 2001, Battman took his first food photograph, Lamb Chops, at Robert De Niro’s buzzy Tribeca Grill and discovered an awe of chefs’ artistry. Within a year, he’d photographed the signature dishes of 21 of the best chefs in the city, from Marcus Samuelsson to Eric Ripert, and featured them at his Empire State Building show.
In 2004, he published their recipes in his first book, “The Great Bagels and Lox Book.” Since then, he’s published 30 more books, and created an annual event and book signing that shines a light on the culinary scene.
Known as “The Great Gathering of Chefs,” the event is celebrated for its camaraderie, attracting both established stars and up-and-comers. Proceeds go to charitable initiatives like a Line Cook Program that trains and places the unemployed in restaurants around the city.
Battman is also the founder of The Chefs Connection, a website that’s been connecting foodies with chefs — and chefs with chefs — for more than 10 years. The site regularly attracts 18,000-20,000 views a month.
His latest book, Toques in Black, highlights the extraordinary diversity of Black Chefs from across the country, blending a collection of 101 recipes with personal stories and experiences.