Bastianich, Lidia Matticchio 1947-

views updated

BASTIANICH, Lidia Matticchio 1947-

PERSONAL: Born February 21, 1947, in Pula, Italy; naturalized U.S. citizen; daughter of Vittorio (a mechanic) and Erminia (a schoolteacher; maiden name, Motika) Matticchio; married Felice Bastianich (divorced, 1998); children: Joseph, Tanya Bastianich Manual. Ethnicity: "Italian." Education: Attended Hunter College and Queens College, both of the City University of New York. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, singing.

ADDRESSES: Office—Felidia Restaurant, 243 East 58th St., New York, NY 10022; fax 212-935-7687. Agent—Jane Dystel, Jane Dystel Literary Management, 1 Union Sq. W, New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Chef and cook-book author. Buonavia Restaurant, Forest Hills, NY, owner, 1972-81; Felidia Restaurant, New York, NY, owner, 1981—. Villa Secondo, Fresh Meadows, NY, owner, 1979-81; Becco Restaurant, New York, NY, co-owner, 1993—; Frico Bar and Restaurant, co-owner, 1995—; Lidia's Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, co-owner, 1998—; Lidia's Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, co-owner, 2001—; Lidia's Flavors of Italy, partner. Esperienze Italian Travel, president, 1997—. Host of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television shows Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen and Lidia's Italian Table. Guest on television programs, including guest chef for Julia Child's Cooking with Master Chefs, PBS, 1994. UNICEF, chairperson of Roman Holidays fund-raising benefit, 1991, member of advisory board, 1994, cochairperson of Celebration of Women charity event, 1998, and member of New York metropolitan committee. Founder of nonprofit Lidia Matticchio Bastianich Foundation, 1999.

MEMBER: International Italian Guild of Professional Restaurateurs, Distinguished Restaurants of North America, American Academy in Rome, American Institute of Wine and Food, Culinary Institute of America, National Organization of Italian-American Women, James Beard Foundation, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (cofounder; member of board of directors, 1997), Dames d'Escoffier, Caterina de Medici Society, New York State Restaurant Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Best Pasta in America Award, National Pasta Association, 1986; Innovation Award and named woman of the year in restaurant category, Women's Institute of the Center for Food and Hotel Management, 1987; Grand Award, Restaurant Wine List, 1988; Emmy Award nomination, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1994, for Julia Child's Cooking with Master Chefs; Felidia Restaurant listed among Top Ten Italian Restaurants, Wine Spectator, 1997; Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. Award, 1998; award from New York Association of Cooking Teachers, 1998; named America's best chef, James Beard Foundation, 2002.

WRITINGS:

(With Jay Jacobson) La Cucina di Lidia: Distinctive Regional Cuisine from the North of Italy, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990, published as La Cucina di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Lidia's Italian Table: More Than 200 Recipes from the First Lady of Italian Cooking, Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.

Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Mario Batali) Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy, Clarkson-Potter (New York, NY), 2002.

Editor of column "A Celebration of Life," in New York Times Magazine, 1991-98.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Lidia's Italian Table with Friends and Family.

SIDELIGHTS: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Italy and spent her early years there, coming to the United States with her family when she was twelve years old. Her formative years gave her rich memories of her grandparents' restaurant, where most of the food they prepared was also grown on their farm; they also produced their own oil, wine, and cured meats. As an adolescent Bastianich learned more about cooking by putting dinner on her family's table while her parents worked. By the age of twenty-four she had opened her first restaurant in Queens, New York; another opened nearby a few years later.

In 1981 Bastianich broke into the stylish Manhattan restaurant scene with Felidia, where her traditional Italian cuisine was a resounding success. Other restaurants followed, including another in New York City, one in Pittsburgh, and another in Kansas City. Bastianich's fame was spread further by her two PBS television shows, Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen and Lidia's Italian Table. She has also diversified her food business to include prepared sauces.

Bastianich's books include recipes and her personal thoughts and memories. She is both "a beguiling storyteller and a no-nonsense guide," concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer after reading Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen. Despite the title, which may suggest that the book includes typical restaurant-style dishes, the cuisine featured in the book is mostly classic Italian. Reviewing Lidia's Italian Table: More Than 200 Recipes from the First Lady of Italian Cooking, Mark Knoblauch predicted in his Booklist review that the simplicity of the recipes and the popularity of Italian food will bring "a wide audience of enthusiastic followers" to this book.

Bastianich once told CA: "Through the years I have collected a multitude of information on the culture of Italian cuisine, and writing is a way for me to record and maintain my Italian heritage. I feel this need to record my life experiences for myself and my family, and then to share the record with the interested public. My work is influenced by M. K. Fisher, James Beard, Marcella Hazan, Julia Child, and Anna Gossetti. Dumas and Jane Davidson are also authors whose work I admire and enjoy. For me, to share a recipe is to share history and culture. Food is life and must be shared among people, not just in recipes. I continuously collect recipes, through my work, restaurants and cooking, my travels and friends, both familial and professional. I add cultural, scientific, and personal experiences in a narrative form to the list of recipes and techniques. In the narrative, my passion and sentiments for the subject flow freely."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July, 1998, Mark Knoblauch, review of Lidia's Italian Table: More Than 200 Recipes from the First Lady of Italian Cooking, p. 1846; November 15, 2001, Mark Knoblauch, review of Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, p. 534.

Library Journal, October 15, 2001, Judith C. Sutton, review of Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, p. 102.

People, June 17, 2002, Mike Neill, "Now That's Italian: Top Chef Lidia Bastianich Invites the World inside Her Grandmother's Kitchen," p. 131.

Publishers Weekly, July 20, 1998, review of Lidia's Italian Table, p. 213; October 1, 2001, review of Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, p. 53, Natalie Danford, interview with Bastianich, p. 55.

Restaurant Business, July 15, 1998, Elizabeth Bernstein, "Westward, Ho!," p. 41.

ONLINE

Lidia's Italy,http://www.lidiasitaly.com/ (January 19, 2004).*