Joe Bastianach knows the culinary world. Not only is he a judge on Fox's MasterChef — which returns for a second season on Monday at 8/7c — he operates three wineries in Italy and 18 restaurants across the country with business partner-celebrity chef Mario Batali. But Bastianich isn't only about food. If necessary, he claims he could make a living by singing for his supper.
The restauranteur can carry a tune and is drawn to shows that feature singing like Glee. "Those kids are fantastic," he tells TVGuide.com. "I love it because I sing, so I sing along with them." As for fellow Fox reality show American Idol, he boasts, "I'd go on there and win if I wasn't so damn old."
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Despite this surprising talent, Bastianich is best known on TV for his inscrutable, unblinking stare as he considers the MasterChef contestants' skills. Intimidating? Yes. Perhaps he's influenced by the rather manly men he admires on TV — namely Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer on 24, who he calls, "the biggest bad ass there is," and Tom Selleck. "He's still got it," says Bastianich. "I love that he brings that early '80s mustache flair to contemporary TV."
But once you think you've got Bastianich figured out, he throws in a couple wild cards. "Josh Charles really does a great job on The Good Wife. He is probably the coolest cat on prime time," he says. "And Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men, in that show his character is where reality meets fantasy, and his real life is where the sublime meets the absurd." (Bastianich will have to get his dose of the absurd in reruns now that Sheen is out.)
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Although he claims his wife forces him to watch House, he declares that Lisa Edelstein is a "class act." But who really gets his consommé simmering? "Jennifer Aniston on Friends," he admits. "She's the consummate hottie. Enough said!"
Bastianich is a lifetime TV fan, and recalls some of his early viewing habits. "I remember spending many snowy Saturday afternoons in the winter waiting for the 5 p.m. Million Dollar Movie to air," he says. "I also used to love staying up late on Saturday nights to catch The Twilight Zone. That show would scare the sh-- out of me!"
He also shares the nostalgia with his children, although with less scary programming like Happy Days and Gilligan's Island.
It appears his TV watching has come full circle, from Gilligan's Island to another famous TV island. The MasterChef judge loves his job, but wouldn't have minded making a cameo with another group of famous castaways.
"I would love to be a parachuted character into Lost," he says.