be nourished at BC
A judge on FOX’s “MasterChef” reality competition series, Joe Bastianich describes himself as “a restaurateur, a winemaker, an author, sometimes a television personality, a rocker, and a runner”—and above all, a lover and ambassador of Italian culture.
Bastianich’s parents opened their first restaurant in Queens, N.Y., when he was 4 years old. A few years later, they launched Felidia in Manhattan, which made his chef mother Lidia a star. “I did everything—washing dishes, cleaning the sidewalk—there’s no glamour growing up in the restaurant business. My parents wanted me to do anything except follow in their footsteps,” he recalls.
The first in his family to go to college, Bastianich was drawn to BC’s beautiful campus, Jesuit values, and liberal arts focus. “I wanted to be a thinker, not a waiter,” he says. So he majored in philosophy and political science and spent a few years trading bonds on Wall Street after graduation. It didn’t take. Bastianich returned to his roots and has found fame in food.
“Now I’m rooting for my own kids to do anything but go into the business,” Bastianich laughs.
What has been the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
Opening my first restaurant, Becco, on my own stands out. Others include bottling the first vintage at Bastianich Winery in Italy and Bel Posto getting four stars in a New York Times review—the first Italian restaurant ever to do so.
In your personal life?
My kids are always highlights in my life. Also, I recently completed the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. I’ve done other triathlons, but Kona is special.
What is your next goal?
I’m going to do a marathon at the base camp of Mount Everest, which should be pretty interesting. I’m also planning on summiting one of the big peaks.
What is the secret to success?
Have a passion. Love what you do and make money doing it.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Spend a day in Bapst Library reading some of their historical volumes.
How have you changed since graduation?
I think that people evolve in life. People are kind of like sculptures, and everything they experience shapes, impacts, and polishes the marble.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
There was a sandwich shop in McElroy Commons that made a turkey and bacon sandwich on a Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, maybe pickles, and onion.
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
I’d mandate that every student would have to grow one thing that they ate.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
It was so alluring and so beautiful. It promised the whole iconic university experience.
What is your fondest BC memory?
Late November tailgating—the comraderie, the fun, a beautiful day in a beautiful setting.
Where is your favorite spot at the Heights?
I love Linden Lane between Bapst and St. Mary’s.
Where did you live freshman year?
Duchesne, first floor.
What was your favorite BC class?
Intro to Modernism, with Fr. Frank Kennedy.
What was your favorite BC activity?
Probably playing pickup basketball at the RecPlex.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
If I was in a group, most of it.
What was your first job?
I always worked in our family’s restaurant. After graduating from BC, I worked for Merrill Lynch in Denmark.
How do you relax?
I play my guitar and sing.
What do you look forward to each day?
Waking up with the kids, having breakfast, and going for a morning run.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
How liberal I really am.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
Well, I just wrote a book, so this might be a real consideration! At my current age, Stanley Tucci could work.
A Special Spring Recipe: Pasta Primavera
This recipe can feature almost any vegetables that are in season.
Serves 4 to 6.
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch slices
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup peas
1 yellow pepper, sliced into ½ inch strips
1 lb whole wheat rigatoni or other pasta
Bring salted water to a boil for pasta. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place all the vegetables except the cherry tomatoes (including onion, zucchini, mushrooms, peas, and yellow pepper) onto a baking sheet. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oils.
Roast the vegetables until almost tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the cherry tomatoes to the vegetables and bake for another 2 minutes.
Add pasta to the boiling water.
While pasta cooks, heat pomodoro sauce in a large sauce pan.
Add the vegetables to the pomodoro sauce and stir slightly.
Two minutes before the pasta is done, drain it (reserving some of the cooking liquid) and add it to the pomodoro sauce, along with enough cooking liquid to keep the sauce liquid.
Stir and simmer over low heat until the pasta is tender.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.