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: Who are the great eaters?
Lidia Bastianich: Who are the great eaters? There’s a lot of them out there. I think that, you know, restaurants have become . . . Certainly my first restaurant was in ’71, so there’s been a few years that I’ve been at restaurants. And it’s . . . it’s great to see, you know, the evolution of a restaurant. It used to be a special occasion. A restaurant used to be business. Now it’s much more. It’s socializing. People are not just eating a meal and running out. It is the place for, if you will, entertainment, socializing, interacting or whatever. So . . . so Americans are very good at that, but then so are the Italians.