Chef Lidia Bastianich of Becco - Biography

New York, NY

November 2011

Known to most as an archetypal “mama” of Italian cuisine (with a decidedly professional bent) Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was actually born in Pula, Istria on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. Ceded to Yugoslavia after WWII, today Istria is divided between Croatia and Slovenia and the blended heritage of the Slavic and Italian cultures gives its people and its cuisine a savor not found anywhere else in the world.

Bastianich credits this duality as the definitive influence on her approach to food. Fluent in both Italian and Croatian, she grew up with the nuances and aromas of both cuisines in the kitchen. Not only is she as savvy on sauerkraut as she is on pasta, but she also knows how to make them work flawlessly together.

In addition to being one of the most famous chefs on television, Bastianich is a best-selling cookbook author, restaurateur, and owner of a flourishing food and entertainment business. Her cookbooks include Lidia’s Italy, as well as Lidia’s Family Table, Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen, Lidia’s Italian Table, and La Cucina di Lidia.

She is also chef/owner of acclaimed New York City restaurants, including Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto, as well as Lidia’s in Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Bastianich is also founder and president of Tavola Productions, an entertainment company that produces high quality broadcast productions including “Lidia’s Italy.” In addition, Bastianich has developed her own line of specialty sauces that are sold at retail establishments nationally, and heads up an exclusive travel company that develops and implements customized excursions to Italy that often combine gastronomy with art history. She gives freely of her time and knowledge, and is active in community service activities and special events on behalf of The James Beard Foundation and Public Television.

Bastianich believes that it’s not only the food on the table that makes the meal. Her signature line “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!” (“Everybody to the table to eat!”) is something that has been said in Italian households for centuries, and is still repeated in Italian homes everyday. This common phrase in its simplicity expresses both the passion and the familiarity that Bastianich brings to her every venture.