Food is so important to Joe Gatto of "Impractical Jokers" -- airing Thursdays on truTV -- that he includes it in his biography: "Joe spends his spare time eating with his big Italian family and mastering his role as the world's greatest uncle."
So much for career highlights and school honors.
"My mother had an open-door policy," he tells Zap2it. "She always had enough food a friend could stay for dinner. Absolutely my favorite memories are around the table. The meal is an event.
"One of my favorite stories is about my little nephew," Gatto continues. "He's 15 and now bigger than me -- and he was the first kid in the family. He had one mini cannoli in one hand, and one in the other; he was in his high chair. One top [of the cannoli] fell off. He looked around and didn't want to put down the cannoli and planted his face right on the table. He was a true Gatto."
A decade ago, Gatto was learning to make pasta, but he has since graduated to teriyaki salmon. He always stocks lemonade, cheese, crackers, and bread-and-butter pickles.
"Every sandwich I make has to have bread-and-butter pickles," he says. "It makes every sandwich go from good to absolutely delicious."
Gatto and his best friends from Staten Island's Monsignor Farrell High formed the Tenderloins, a comedy troupe that made up a goofy "Candid Camera"-type dare show.
They often do food jokes, including a memorable one at Redd's at the Meadowlands, where Gatto flung mashed potatoes on unsuspecting diners' plates. He calls it "scoopsi potatahs."
He recalls intending to "try something that might get us in trouble."
Given that New Jersey diners tend to take less flak than people elsewhere, it's a wonder no one slapped him down as he flung spuds with abandon.
"We were trying to embarrass each other," he says. "The best reaction we hope for is when people look and say, 'That guy is crazy!' I felt like that family [who bore the most spattered potatoes] is in for fun and needed potatoes thrown in their world. It felt like a superhero power -- throw potatoes and not get punched."
What are you currently reading?
"I don't really read. I watch movies. The last thing I read was GQ with James Gandolfini on the cover."
What did you have for dinner last night?
"I had a home-cooked meal, meatloaf with roasted vegetables, a side of pasta with ground beef, and a spinach and artichoke dip and tiramisu."
What is your next project?
"We're actually working on a second show for truTV, "The After Party," a variety show that will incorporate some studio work."
When was the last vacation you took - where and why?
"My honeymoon to Bora Bora. Tahiti was absolutely gorgeous. It was like walking on a postcard."
Photo/Video credit: truTV