Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition Appalled at Negative Characterization of “Old Italian Man” by Joe Bastianich on MasterChef Junior

The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition (IAOVC) expressed deep disappointment and shock at the ignorant characterization of an elderly Italian American man on a recent episode of MasterChef Junior. IAOVC is calling on Mr. Bastianich to apologize publicly for promoting such a negative image of Italian American men.

In a recent installment of the prime-time children’s cooking competition, Mr. Bastianich appeared in an open-chested jogging suit with a heavy gold chain perched on a handicapped scooter with a large Italian flag propped on the back. He spoke in a halting and mocking Italian American northeastern accent. The portrayal, alluding that all elderly Italian Americans dress and act like buffoons, did not even amuse the young and impressionable contestants on the show. The children seemed puzzled and questioned the judge why he looked so strange. Mr. Bastianich’s response was “Because this is what all old Italian American men look like.” Not true, Mr. Bastianich, as you well know.

“This is especially galling coming from a man who has made an extremely successful career by virtue of his Italian American culture through his many restaurants and shows, owned both alone and with his mother, the well-respected Lydia Bastianich,” said Dr. Emanuele Alfano, President of IAOVC. “I doubt Mr. Bastianich’s father looked like the character he portrayed and quite frankly, he should know better. He has now placed this hurtful and insulting image in the minds of young, impressionable children and teenagers, as well as the general audience to continue the perpetration of Italian Americans as buffoons and/or mobsters.” It is clear from watching the show that there was no valid reason for this stereotype character as the other judges appeared elderly but with no ethnic identification. His appearance was gratuitous, inappropriate, unnecessary and a betrayal of his heritage.

“Mr. Bastianich owes the Italian American community an apology and we sincerely hope and expect that he does not intend to continue these disgraceful images through his businesses and further appearances. The fact that this offensive portrayal is coming from an Italian American is disheartening and grossly insulting.” Dr. Alfano also issued an invitation for Mr. Bastianich to attend any one of countless Italian American organization meetings in New Jersey, including ONE VOICE, to see that his characterization is quite far from reality. “I extend an open invitation for Joe Bastianich to attend a ONE VOICE Coalition meeting, or one of our Member Organization meetings, so he can interact with true Italian American men, prominent and successful community members from every walk of life who are dignified and quite indignant of his opinion of them.”

The Italian American One Voice Coalition is the only organization dedicated to fighting negative Italian American stereotypes and defamation of the Italian American image. Dr. Alfano can be reached at 973-429-2818. iaovc.org