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: What makes a great chef?
Lidia Bastianich: I think what makes a great chef, first and foremost, is passion. Secondly, dedication. Thirdly, education. Fourthly, practice and being mentored by the right people. And I think an important element to really round the chef – make it complete – is the travel. The travel to understand different cultures and their different food cultures.