Entrepreneur, restaurateur, wine producer, and TV celebrity, Joe Bastianich works most of all with passion. Born September 17, 1968 in Queens, he is the son of Italian immigrants Lidia (Matticchio) and Felice Bastianich who escaped from Istria, an area that survived centuries of violence with a history of prejudice towards Italians. In the Bastianich family, cultural identity and family bonds are sacred. Joe admits that being a first-generation Italian-American kid was initially a struggle. Going on to study economics he later became a bond trader, working on Wall Street in New York. As an adult he took pride in having both American and Italian roots, identifying with the American music culture and Italian family and cooking traditions. A familiar face on American television, Joe Bastianich made appearances early on during the Italian-American cooking show, Cooking with Lidia , the series that would launch his mother’s restaurant empire. Chatting and preparing dishes side-by-side, he represented one of the many kids of American immigrants who shared a similar cultural experience of making traditional recipes at home with family.
He eventually left the trading floor for the kitchen, investing in food and beverage and reconnecting with his roots. In 1997, Joe established the Bastianich Winery in Cividale del Friuli, Italy building a home and neighboring restaurant across the street. The restaurant, Orsone , serves Del Posto inspired, Italian-American cuisine to curious locals. Thirty-five miles northwest of Trieste and ten miles from the Slovenian border, close to Udine, Cividale del Friuli could be considered the Italian version of the Istrian peninsula.
From the winery to the stage, Joe Bastianich fast became a beloved Italian celebrity, being featured as a sharp-tongued judge on Sky’s MasterChef Italia. Deemed the Restaurant Man by adoring fans, he is a man about town, talked about in tabloids like Chi and Oggi, and in fashion magazines like Vanity Fair and GQ Italia.
The sanctuary of good food, wine, tradition and family created by Joe in Friuli creates roots to which his children can always return and with which he can always reconnect. Wall Street may have given Joe a certain business savvy but in the end, he believes happiness is what’s most important. He says, “My time on Wall Street taught me that pursuing something solely for monetary gain was a one way ticket to unhappiness. Ultimately my dissatisfaction in the world of finance lead me to what I was truly passionate about- food and wine.”
But Joe’s passion for the beautiful side of life doesn’t stop there. A musician and music history enthusiast, Joe’s television series On the Road - Joe Bastianich Music Tour on Sky Arte HD finds him with friend and drummer, Mike Seay as they travel to rural parts of Italy to discover new and traditional types of music. As a television host and in real life, he is well line with Italian culture, relatable, stylishly dressed, and clearly taken away by the music, showing authentic interest and respect and even playing a bit of his music with his new friends. On stage with mega celebrity chefs Carlo Cracco and Bruno Barbieri, his direct manner on MasterChef Italy became wildly popular with his question “Vuoi che muoro?” (do you want me to die?) posed to unsuspecting contestants on the show. Finding a way to combine his love of food and music came with his
live theater show in which he chatted with the audience while playing some of his songs, pairing the evening with wines from his vineyard. From being on set to managing multiple restaurants around the world, Joe sees it all as a learning process that doesn’t happen overnight. Having a solid and like-minded team is one of the elements he contributes to the success of his businesses like in the continued expansion of Eataly, of which he is a partner through his group, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. Joe Bastianich has more than 30 restaurants around the world including Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, and Milan and has starred in MasterChef US, MasterChef Junior US, MasterChef Italy, Restaurant Start-up, Top Gear, and On the Road - Joe Bastianich Music Tour.