Top Italian chef quits state TV show 'after being told to drop foreign recipes'

Posted by On 3:09 PM

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 Rai’s version of Ready Steady Cook suspended his show

Vittorio Castellani
Vittorio Castellani has previously cooked Mexican tortilla and Keralan curry on the show. Photograph: Fabrizio Esposito

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 Kumalé, 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 Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, wanted to give more space to “multi-regional” Italian rather than “multicultural” food.

Castellani had worked on two episodes of the show, called La Prova del Cuoco, or The Chef’s Test, since the new season began on Rai 1 in September, developing recipes for dishes including Mexican tortilla and Keralan curry.

“They told me my episode was being suspended, to be reinstated later, because viewers don’t like foreign food recipes,” Castellani said.

Rai has denied Castellani’s claims. It said there was no “thematic” selection of the recipes used on the show. “From 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.”

Castellani announced his departure on Facebook, suggesting that the “Italians first” slogan promoted by Salvini’s League party had extended to an “only Italian” 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.

“The order had nothing to do with her,” Castellani said. “But 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.

“It’s 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 country’s problems are linked to foreigners.”

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 Rai’s 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 Salvini’s communications’ staff.

Amnesty International, the UN refugee agency, Doctors Without Borders and journalists’ 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. “Rai decided to block this documentary even before watching it,” Cataldi said. “I 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.”

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.

“Certainly, there’s a climate of worry over press freedom [since Foa’s appointment], and in the media in general,” an industry source said.

MEPs from the centre-left Democratic party said last week they were suing Foa for “generating fake news” after he claimed in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that they were being financed by the billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

“I never imagined ever having to sue the president of Rai for damages,” said MEP David Sassoli. “The accusations are very serious, defamatory and damaging.”

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Source: Google News Italy | Netizen 24 Italy

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