Matticchio Bastianich came to the United States from
Istria -- a peninsula now part of Croatia that is about 90
miles northeast of Venice -- when she was 12 years old with
her parents and her brother Franco. While Lidia's mother went
to work in a local bakery, Lidia was often responsible for
getting dinner on the table in the evenings. But her fascination
with cooking really came from growing up with grandparents
who ran a trattoria, grew most of the food they sold
and ate, produced their own olive oil and wine, distilled
their own grappa and cured their own meats-prosciutto,
pancetta, guanciale and salsicce.
Lidia remembers going
with her grandmother to the communal mill to grind the wheat
into flour for pasta and bread. This "from the earth"
understanding and respect for food has given her a definite
style as a cook, and the pristine, unadulterated flavors have
become her reference library throughout her professional life.
When Lidia was 24 years old, she opened her first restaurant in
Forest Hills, Queens. A few years later, a second restaurant was
opened nearby. In 1981, the big move came when Felidia was opened
on East 58th Street in Manhattan.
Lidia is now the co-owner,
with her son Joseph, of Felidia and Becco restaurants in New York
and Lidia's in Kansas City and Pittsburgh. She is also the star
of Lidia's Italian American Kitchen and Lidia's Italian Table,
shown nationwide on Public Television and in Australia, Canada and
Japan. She also has two sauce lines, Lidia's Flavors of Italy and
another line produced exclusively for Williams Sonoma. Together
with her daughter, Tanya, an art historian, she runs Esperienze
Italiane, a high end food, wine and cultural tour company to Italy.
She is the author of four cookbooks,
Lidia's Italian American Kitchen, Lidia's
Italian Table, La
Cucina di Lidia, and most recently, Lidia’s
Family Table. She writes a monthly syndicated column
distributed by Universal Press on Italian food. She is a passionate
chef, communicator and teacher who shares her knowledge with culinary
students and her audiences through television, books, articles and
Lidia uses her talent
as a chef to organize benefits and generate support for humanitarian
causes. She has helped raise funds for the less fortunate throughout
her career, especially with organizations like Unicef and Unifem.
In 1999, the Not-for-Profit Lidia Matticchio Bastianich Foundation
was established. The foundation's goals are to benefit the indigent,
abandoned, oppressed, neglected, ill or handicapped without regard
to race or creed by promoting their health, welfare, happiness and
academic and vocational training and development.