NEW YORK - Seeking to draw attention to the defamation of Italian Americans on TV, National Italian American Foundation President Salvatore Zizza called a press conference to put the media on alert.

“We, as proud Italian Americans, are no longer going to sit by while cooking shows continue to portray us as overweight, gluttonous fools who are obsessed with food!” Zizza said. “Channels like the Food Network simply perpetuate the stereotype of Italian Americans as cheese-grating, olive-oil using, meatball-rolling rubes.”

Zizza also complained that Italian Americans seem to be the only ethnic group cast as chefs on these shows. “When’s the last time you saw a Jewish chef or a Black chef portrayed this way? It would never happen! But it’s become acceptable to do this to Italian Americans.”

Zizza said that these cooking shows never show Italian Americans as simply fathers, sons, accountants, writers, doctors or lawyers.

“Without exception, we’re always chefs,” Zizza lamented. “The media just wants the public to think we all walk around with oregano and garlic in our pockets! We’ve made great contributions to this country. Just because a small minority have in the past become involved in organized cooking doesn’t mean we’re all that way.”

Zizza also had harsh words for those who agree to appear on cooking shows. “When will these Italian-Americans realize that they’re exploiting their own community for personal gain? Why must they portray us as wine-thirsty, and ruthless in our search for the right ingredients? Don’t they realize the impact this has? First, it scares people to think that every Italian American is a potential chef and could cook at any time. Second, these shows continually glorify Veal Parmesan.”

Zizza is calling for an immediate boycott of the Food Network. “When you see these cooking shows come on, just turn off the TV and take your family to the movies instead,” he suggested.