Lidia Bastianich Brings Food, Family, Culture Nearby
Celebrity chef to appear May 17 at Mayo Performing Arts Center.
She closes every one of her television programs with the familiar, "Tutti a tavola a mangiare," Italian for "everyone to the table to eat."
Indeed, celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich's signature phrase embodies two of the most important parts of her life: food and family.
Bastianich said it's very much part of Italian culture to be very family oriented.
"Everyone lived in close proximity," said the 65-year-old chef, who was born in Croatia, then part of the Italian Kingdom. "It was a great support system. The table never failed to be full. I always had a place to eat.
"The table is a place we as humans can come together and meet and relax," Bastianich added. "My show is like that."
Her PBS programs, which have been staples on the channel since 2001, often include cameos and assistance from Bastianich's brood, including son Joe, daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali and Bastianich's 93-year-old mother, whom everyone affectionately calls "Grandma."
Bastianich said she is not transferring her television program to the stage, however.
"It's not exactly like cooking," she said. "It's difficult in front of a theater to make everyone see what you're doing and benefit from it."
Instead, Bastianich said a portion of the event will be historical, as she tells attendees about her journey from Pula, Croatia, to North Bergen, NJ and, ultimately, to Queens, where much of the family core still lives.
"I live within walking distance to my daughter," Bastianich noted. Her mother lives upstairs, she said.
The night also will include presentations, video clips featuring the family, some recipe demonstrations, tips, even a little Q&A. It will be followed by a book signing and photo opportunities.
While Bastianich is now known internationally for her culinary prowess, she said she never planned this far in the process, certainly not when she and former husband Felice Bastianich opened their first restaurant, Buonavia, in 1971. There, Bastianich served as host, and eventually began to pick up cooking techniques and skills that would lead to her future success.
"I had no such vision," said Bastianich, who now oversees restaurants in New York, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. "I had a lot of passion, I loved what I did and I loved sharing it. The more I shared, the more people wanted. An opportunity came along, and I took it seriously."
"Why do I love food to so much? All of this is part of it," Bastianich said.
For more information, including tickets,for Lidia Bastianich's May 17 appearance at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, click here.