Zap2it: Has judging this competition changed your opinion of home cooks?
Joe Bastianich: Generally, these are people who are very passionate about food. That’s the one thing that shines through. They may be better or worse cooks, some of them, may have better techniques or ingredients, but unilaterally, even the poor cooks all have a super-high passion for what they do.
Zap2it: What’s the biggest advantage today’s home cooks have?
Joe Bastianich: The Internet. You have instant access to any cook, any recipe, any technique in the world at your fingertips. And you have the greatest ingredients, so the potential is limitless for the home cook.
Zap2it: What’s your philosophy of food shopping?
Joe Bastianich: Make eating and shopping and procuring food part of your lifestyle. Don’t shop in bulk. Don’t buy industrial-sized jars of crunchy peanut butter. You don’t need that. Buy what you need. Shop for tomorrow, and shop every day if you have the time. Not everyone can do that, but that’s the idea.
Zap2it: What’s your ultimate comfort food?
Joe Bastianich: I like pasta, A, because I’m good at it, and B, it’s good for you, and C, because it makes you sexy, smart and skinny.
Zap2it: But isn’t pasta a no-no because of all the starch, gluten and carbohydrates?
Joe Bastianich: I’m totally on the other side of that. That’s over. That’s the ’90s. That’s last decade. Pasta is back. It’s about moderate consumption. A hundred grams of pasta, one bowl, olive oil, fresh vegetables — it’s the ultimate superfood.