Born In: Astoria, New York, United States
Joe Bastianich is a popular American chef, TV personality, author, musician, winemaker, and vineyard owner, best known for his stint as a judge on the American version of ‘MasterChef.’ Born in New York City, Joe grew up in a middle-class Italian immigrant family. He developed an interest in cooking at an early age, since his parents were restaurant owners. He learned to cook at the restaurant. Following his high-school graduation, he joined ‘Boston College,’ where he studied finance. He worked on ‘Wall Street’ for a year after his graduation. He then embarked on a trip to Italy and became fascinated with the native culture, cuisine, and wine. He had already decided to become a restaurateur and soon ended up opening his own restaurant, ‘Becco,’ in New York City. He opened many more restaurants across the country and the world and became one of the most popular restaurateurs in New York City. His popularity surged in the 2010s, when he began appearing regularly in the American version of ‘MasterChef’ and sometimes in its Italian version. He has also been a ‘New York Times’ bestselling author.
Spouse/Ex-: Deanna Bastianich (m. 1995)
father: Felice Bastianich
mother: Lidia Bastianich
children: Ethan Bastianich, Miles Bastianich, Olivia Bastianich
Born Country: United States
Ancestry: Italian American
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: Boston College
Joe Bastianich was born Joseph Bastianich, on September 17, 1968, in Queens, New York, to Felice and Lidia Bastianich. His parents were Italian immigrants who had migrated to the United States from Pola (part of modern-day Croatia), after the Second World War. His parents initially worked as waiters in New York restaurants.
He was raised in a middle-class household and inherited his love for cooking from his parents, who had launched their own restaurant, called ‘Bounavia,’ in Queens, in 1970. As a kid, Joe would work at the restaurant, mostly cleaning the dishes while learning the basics of running a restaurant.
His mother was a great cook, and Joe learned the basics of cooking from her. Upon growing up, he also became fascinated with everything about his native land, Italy, and its food and culture. His mother would often visit Italy and take Joe along with her. Eventually, he started traveling alone and explored the food and culture of the country.
However, Joe Bastianich had not decided his career path even after graduating high school. He joined ‘Boston College,’ where he studied finance. He wanted to work on ‘Wall Street,’ and following his college graduation, he began working in the finance sector. However, everything changed with one road trip to Italy. He drove around the country in a car and fell in love with it immensely.
He had also grown tired of his ‘Wall Street’ job and decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps and work in the food industry. He expressed his desire to join the family business to his parents. His mother agreed but asked him to first learn more about the Italian culture and live in Italy for 2 years on his own. He thus spent 2 years working in Italian vineyards and restaurants.
He then moved back to the United States, and with all the experience he had gathered in Italy, he opened his first restaurant, ‘Becco,’ in New York.
He launched his restaurant in collaboration with his mother. He did not have enough money to fund ‘Becco.’ He had saved some money from his ‘Wall Street’ job, but he needed $80,000 more to start his business. Hence, he borrowed money from his grandmother for the same. He worked day and night to ensure that the restaurant became one of the most popular around Queens, New York. Joe primarily served Italian food and wine.
He soon started his own chain of restaurants and currently owns about 30 restaurants across the United States, primarily in Los Angeles and New York City.
Joe Bastianich�also entered into a collaboration with an Italian chef named Mario Batali, to open a restaurant named ‘Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca.’ The restaurant became highly popular with Italians and ended up receiving 3 stars from ‘The New York Times.’ His restaurant thus became the first Italian restaurant in 40 years to attain the honor. Additionally, the restaurant has also earned one ‘Michelin’ star.
After their successful first collaboration, they opened several more restaurants together in New York, such as ‘Casa Mono,’ ‘Lupa,’ ‘Esca,’ ‘Del Posto,’ and ‘Eataly.’
‘Del Posto’ became one of the most successful restaurants after it earned a four-star review from ‘The New York Times.’ There are only five restaurants in New York City that have earned a four-star review from the newspaper. Both of them have also gone international and opened restaurants in Hong Kong and Singapore.
It took him about 20 years to be known as a celebrity chef and a restaurant-chain owner. In 2007, he appeared in the documentary film titled ‘At the Table with…,’ in which he appeared along with his mother, Lidia Bastianich. In 2009, he appeared in a single episode of the show titled ‘Iron Chef America: The Series.’
He got the biggest breakthrough of his TV career when he appeared in the American version of the popular cooking reality show ‘MasterChef.’ He began appearing on the show as a judge in 2010 and immediately became one of the most popular judges on the show. He also appeared on ‘MasterChef Junior.’ However, he had many restaurants to run and thus struggled to divide his time between his TV projects and restaurants.
In 2014, he announced that he would be taking a break from appearing in both the versions of ‘MasterChef.’ However, he returned as a judge on both the shows in 2018. Since then, he has been appearing as a regular judge on ‘MasterChef’ and a guest chef on ‘MasterChef Junior.’
In 2011, Joe Bastianich started appearing as a judge in the Italian version of the show, titled ‘MasterChef Italia.’ In addition, he has also appeared in a single episode of ‘MasterChef Canada.’
Over the years, he has appeared in small/guest roles in other TV series, such as ‘The Dr. Oz Show,’ ‘The Chew,’ and ‘Steve Harvey.’
In 2016, he also appeared as one of the main judges on the show ‘Top Gear Italia.’ It was a huge diversion from his usual TV appearances as a food-show judge. In ‘Top Gear,’ he was seen sharing expert opinions on new cars and their specifications. The series was, however, canceled after six episodes.
In 2020, he appeared as a judge on the show titled ‘Italia’s Got Talent,’ which is a globally famous talent-hunt show.
In May 2012, Joe Bastianich released his autobiography, ‘Restaurant Man.’ It became hugely successful and became a “New York Times Bestseller.” The book had entered the bestsellers’ list within a week of its release.
He has also written two books on wine, titled ‘Vino Italiano’ and ‘Grandi Vini.’ Both the books became bestsellers.
He was accused of racism for making racist remarks about Chinese men in an episode of ‘MasterChef Italia.’ He later apologized for his remarks.
He has received an ‘Outstanding Restaurateur Award’ from the ‘James Beard Foundation.’ Additionally, he has also received the ‘America Award’ from the ‘Italy–USA Foundation.’
Joe Bastianich and his wife, Deanna, have three children: Olivia, Ethan, and Miles.
His mother, Lidia, has also been a celebrity chef and has appeared on many TV shows.
Joe and his family currently stay in New York City.