Top Italian chef quits state TV show 'after being told to drop foreign recipes'
Italy Top Italian chef quits state TV show 'after being told to drop foreign recipes'
Vittorio Castellani says Raiâs version of Ready Steady Cook suspended his show
A food journalist and chef who provided recipes for the Italian version of Ready Steady Cook has quit the show, claiming the public broadcaster, Rai, had told him to drop foreign recipes.
Vittorio Castellani, also known as Chef KumalÃ©, says Rai told him in a telephone ca ll last week that his role had been temporarily put on hold because producers of the programme, hosted by Elena Isoardi, the girlfriend of Italyâs far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, wanted to give more space to âmulti-regionalâ Italian rather than âmulticulturalâ food.
Castellani had worked on two episodes of the show, called La Prova del Cuoco, or The Chefâs Test, since the new season began on Rai 1 in September, developing recipes for dishes including Mexican tortilla and Keralan curry.
âThey told me my episode was being suspended, to be reinstated later, because viewers donât like foreign food recipes,â Castellani said.
Rai has denied Castellaniâs claims. It said there was no âthematicâ selection of the recipes used on the show. âFrom 10 September, when this series began, many non-traditional Italian recipes have been used. Only today [Monday] eggplant parmigiana was presented in combination w ith Japanese uramaki.â
Castellani announced his departure on Facebook, suggesting that the âItalians firstâ slogan promoted by Salviniâs League party had extended to an âonly Italianâ concept in the kitchen.
He later removed the post after Italian newspapers insinuated that the decision may have been made by Isoardi, who took over the show in September following the departure of Antonella Clerici after 18 years.
âThe order had nothing to do with her,â Castellani said. âBut I am very worried that there is less space being given to other cultures, not only on the show but in general on TV, in newspapers.
âItâs as if learning about other cultures is something to fear. I think we are becoming hostages of the xenophobic hate generated by certain politics, which is steering Italians towards racism and convincing them that the countryâs problems are linked to foreigners.â
Marcello Foa, a journalist who holds anti-immigrant views and who has often shared stories on social media that proved to be fake, was appointed as Raiâs president in September after the League and its coalition partner, the Five Star Movement, pushed for him to be given the role. His son, Leonardo, is also among Salviniâs communicationsâ staff.
Amnesty International, the UN refugee agency, Doctors Without Borders and journalistsâ unions including Usigrai, which represents Rai staff, accused the broadcaster of censorship earlier this month after it blocked a documentary produced by the journalist Valerio Cataldi about migrants trapped in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos which also highlighted police brutality.
The documentary, which led to four Greek police officers being placed under investigation, had been due to air on Rai last week. âRai decided to block this documentary even before watching it,â Cataldi said. âI cannot be sure, but certainly I suspect this attempt to stop my documentary, which deals with the issue of migrants and how they are treated, is a way to facilitate the new change of direction at the top of the Rai.â
A TV show about Riace, a town in Calabria lauded around the world as a model for migrant integration, was also suspended in September, just weeks before its mayor, Domenico Lucano, was put under house arrest on suspicion of abetting illegal immigration.
âCertainly, thereâs a climate of worry over press freedom [since Foaâs appointment], and in the media in general,â an industry source said.
MEPs from the centre-left Democratic party said last week they were suing Foa for âgenerating fake newsâ after he claimed in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that they were being financed by the billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
âI never imagined ever having to sue the president of Rai for damages,â said MEP David Sassoli. âThe accusations are very serious, defamatory and damaging.âTopics
- Food TV
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