'MasterChef US' is exploration of American cuisine: Judge
New Delhi : "MasterChef US" is not just a cooking reality television show, but a way to take people from all around the world on a gastronomical tour through the US, says celebrity chef Joe Bastianich, who eats Indian food every Sunday and hopes to visit the country soon.
Bastianich is on the judging panel of "MasterChef Junior US", and feels he has learnt the art of balancing with the show, which is aired in India on Star World and Star World HD.
"'Masterchef US' is an exploration of American cuisine. We keep on going to new places to find out what's cooking in America so that the people are able to explore America's regional food because maybe in India you don't know about the different kind of foods that we have got," Bastianich told IANS in a recorded response.
How well do you know about Indian food?
"Ohh yaa... I love Indian food. Every Sunday we eat Indian food. We go out or order in," he added.
"I have never been to India, but that is my next goal -- to go to India. When I am in India, I will eat and then go to an ashram and do yoga," the chef said in an enthusiastic tone.
Hailing from Italy, Bastianich founded Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group along with his mother and celebrity chef Mario Batali. The company announced that they are cutting ties with Batali after a slew of sexual harassment claims were made by women, many of whom had worked with B&B Group.
Bastianich found himself in the middle of a controversy over remarks he made on an episode of "MasterChef Italia". The remarks were deemed racist and sexist. He later on apologised for the comments, saying that they were made "in poor taste".
He has co-authored two award-winning books on Italian wine, and his memoir "Restaurant Man".
On his stint on the "MasterChef" shows, he said: "I have learnt how to balance criticism and mentorship. I think this is the biggest evolution. Maybe in the beginning, I was being more critical but now I have learnt how to balance being a critic and mentorship. That is the fundamental part of being a judge on a show like that."
"I love doing 'MasterChef Junior US' because I think that the kids have the one ingredient that the adults are missing and that is honesty... That makes the show great," added the chef, who judges the show along with Gordon Ramsay and Aarón Sanchez.
He feels children have no inhibitions, want to take risks and take directions better.
"They have an honesty which makes them great cooks."
Globally, he feels food habits are changing.
"The customer has evolved over time. People want to have everything. Millennials are motivated to participate in traditional food... In terms of dining, people want more quality, more product at a better price," said Bastianich, who considered star chef Anthony Bourdain -- whose suicide last month left the industry in shock -- a friend and a mentor.
(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)