Panoram Italia: What led you to a career as a comic?
John Catucci: Music always played a huge part in my life. I grew up in a big Italian family. My nonno Giuseppe was always playing the guitar and making people laugh. My nonno Giovanni was a trumpet player. I discovered my love of performing at York University. I was a member of Vanier College Productions. That’s where I met David Mesiano and a few years later we formed The Doo Wops.
PI: What made you a good candidate to host “You Gotta Eat Here”?
JC: I think the main reason I got chosen is because the producers wanted to put a different spin on a food show. I’m not a chef, so I’m coming at it from a different angle. I’m the regular guy who just really loves food.
PI: Food plays an important role in Italian culture. Having travelled across Canada in pursuit of the perfect comfort food, where did you find the best pasta?
JC: My mom’s pasta e fagioli is hard to beat! But I salivated when I tasted the best lasagna in “That Little Place by the Lights” in Huntsville, Ontario. It was a home-made dish, filled with fresh béchamel sauce, lots of mozzarella, parmesan and perfectly seasoned Bolognese sauce...so tasty! I left with a full stomach. In Toronto, we came across the tiny restaurant “Cardinal Rule” north of Queen Street. Marta, the chef there, prepared us an amazing dish called “maki and cheese”. She takes macaroni and cheese, rolls it into a log with sausage in the middle. Then she batters it in panko bread crumbs and deep fries the whole thing. She cuts it into sushi size bites and serves it with a few homemade dipping sauces. It was absolutely delicious!
PI: Which restaurant has stood out the most for you?
JC: Throughout this entire experience, the place that stands out the most was the sensational food we ate at The Neighbour’s Family Restaurant in Vancouver. I was truly touched by the hospitality. This family-run restaurant treated us like one of their own.
PI: Are you enjoying the fame from your current TV role?
JC: It’s pretty cool to be recognized and to hear that so many different people enjoy the show. The best part is when people yell the name of a different show from across the street. “Hey…you’re the Eat St. guy!” I just smile and wave back.
PI: How does it feel when viewers compare you to Guy Fieri from the US Food Network?
JC: It’s an honour to be compared to Guy Fieri. He’s had a successful career as a chef. I’m not a chef, so I guess that’s what separates me from other hosts. I bring the “everyman” point of view into restaurants around the country.
PI: What’s the most entertaining aspect of your job?
JC: That’s a tough one. I think i’s tied between meeting new people and seeing this beautiful country. I’m a Toronto boy, born and bred, so being north of Bloor is very exciting to me. This country is breathtaking and I feel very lucky to be able to do so much traveling for my job.
PI: Has the show changed your eating habits?
JC: I’ve had to! No one can eat the amount of poutine I do and NOT change their eating habits. I eat a lot more vegetables now, covered in cheese and gravy, but still vegetables...
PI: What’s the craziest thing you’ve eaten so far?
JC: A 9 lbs burger! It was bigger than my first born.