Lidia Bastianich

A Recipe for Success Based on Food & Family

Lidia Bastianich is so much more than an Italian chef. After all, not everyone has had Julia Child asking for your risotto recipe. Celebrating her 25th year on PBS, Lidia is an Emmy award-winning public television host, best-selling cookbook author, successful restaurateur, and owner of a flourishing food and entertainment business. PBS has recently released a new special Lidia Celebrates America:  The Flavors that Define Us, and her new season of Lidia’s Kitchen begins in October on PBS, and here in Nashville on WNPT. Her latest cookbook is A Pot, A Pan and A Bowl and includes all types of timesaving family recipes. We were able to talk with her in conjunction with a visit to WNPT for a Breakfast with Lidia event.

How did the cooking show come about?

Julia Child and James Beard came to dinner at Lidia’s restaurant which served regional Italian food and the two food icons loved her cooking. Julia wanted to learn how to make Lidia’s risotto and eventually the two cooked together. And from that friendship, Julia invited Lidia to be on her Master Chef series and then eventually Lidia was asked to create her own show with PBS.

Is the show still filmed in your home?

Lidia says she asked for 2 things. “Certainly I wanted to be on PBS, because that’s the platform that I admired and that Julia was on, and the next I asked the producer, could we tape it in my house? And that was for my comfort.” Julia filmed in her home and Lidia thought she would not be as nervous in her own home.

“This was my home, and I shared my family, my mother, my daughter, my son, my children, grandchildren. I think that people really related to that. They felt like they were part of my family, and I love that I could transcend the lens and come into somebody’s home and make them comfortable with Lydia.”

You can watch the new season to see Lidia in her own kitchen.

What is the audience for Lidia’s Kitchen?

Lidia’s Kitchen is in 98% of all PBS stations across the country. Her audience is primarily women, and all ages watch the show. Her viewers tell her they watch with their children and their grandchildren.

Is teaching at the heart of all the shows?

Lidia says that everything she does is based on what works for her viewers. So her teaching, her tips, her recipes, are all geared to not selling, but sharing with the viewers.

As an immigrant, Lidia has empathy for the new immigrants to America.

On her latest special on PBS, Lidia focuses on remarkable stories of immigrants from varied countries like Ukraine, Bhutan, Vietnam, and the Punjab region of India. Lidia was once a refugee from a portion of Italy that became Yugoslavia and now Croatia. She immigrated to the United States as a young girl and her experience reinforces the importance of keeping and sharing your culture and your recipes.

What has your career done for your life?

“Food has given me so much and in return has made my life so rich.”

Resources and Links

Tickets to Breakfast with Lidia in Nashville

Lidia’s Kitchen

Lidia Celebrates America

Lidia’s Website

Lidia’s Facebook

Lidia’s Instagram