Lidia Bastianich has been described as the reigning queen of Italian cuisine in America. She is the host of cooking shows on PBS, including Lidia's Italy, a new 26-episode series which features American and Italian chefs preparing regional Italian dishes.
Bastianichs family fled Communist Istria in 1956 and became political refugees in Italy, before moving to the United States. Bastianich trained in kitchens in New York City and opened her first restaurant with her husband at the age of 24. Since then, she has opened several restaurants, including Felidia and Becco. She has also authored several cookbooks including Lidia's Family Table and Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen.
Question: How has cooking changed in your lifetime?
Lidia Bastianich: Kitchens have changed tremendously in the sense of the sort of the exclusive role of a male dominant chef. Kitchens have opened much more to younger people . . . opportunities to younger people to really reach certain levels. It certainly has opened up opportunities for women evermore. There’s a tremendous consciousness in respect for products rather than just for an exposition for the chef, or for his sort of creativity. Not that that’s not necessary. It is. But I think in a lot of the . . . the older times, that’s what you expected. Actually you expected almost the product not to be recognized, to be transformed into something. That has completely changed.
Recorded on: 10/4/07