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 make a great restaurant?
Lidia Bastianich: I think what should go on the menu, again, should reflect, certainly, the seasons. That’s number one; should reflect the philosophy or the culture of the chef or whomever is running the restaurant. In our case of course it’s Italian, and there’s usually a consultation with the chef and the sous chef as a whole; and a monitoring of what are the trends. What are people looking for? So well-balanced, certainly. And vegetables. So if it’s winter, some soups. The fish element, the red meat, the white meat, the legumes. It’s a balance between all of that. Besides, it’s just not okay to just put lobster on the menu. The whole orchestration. It’s a symphony of things that has to happen.
Recorded on: 10/4/07