Lidia

In Pittsburgh, she needs no introduction, and Thanksgiving week seems like the ideal time to catch up with the Emmy award-winning bestselling cookbook author, restaurateur, and food and entertainment business maven, Lidia Bastianich. She’s the warm and vibrant host of several public television shows that highlight her Italian roots and culture, and in 2001, Lidia opened a restaurant in the Strip District, where just last month she celebrated the launch of her new cookbook and hosted a special four-course dinner.

In addition to Lidia’s Pittsburgh, Bastianich is the chef/owner of four acclaimed NYC restaurants, plus one in Kansas City that’s housed within a former railroad house. Along with her son, Joe, Mario Batali and Oscar Farinetti, Lidia opened Eataly, the world’s largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace, in Manhattan’s historic Flatiron District, which has now has several locations across the U.S. The team is slated to bring the Eataly concept to Las Vegas and Toronto in 2018. Founder and president of Tavola Productions, Lidia is also the creator of a line of pastas and all-natural sauces. Read on to find out who’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the iconic chef and what she loves to make on Sunday mornings.

What upcoming events are you excited attend?

Well, I an definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving. This year my daughter is cooking, and all five of my grandkids will be there, so celebrating that is something I am very much looking forward to. In mid-December, I am doing a book signing for God’s Love We Deliver, and I am excited about that because it is a great organization that provides for those in need.

Lidia and her granddaughter Julia making pizza.

Best part of your job?

The best part of my job is that every day I am doing something different. Sometimes I am taping my television show, or I could be working in one of my restaurants, or maybe doing a book signing, or a charity event. I love to be involved in all aspects of my businesses.

Best thing about Pittsburgh or Western PA?

I have really enjoyed witnessing the rebirth of Pittsburgh. We opened 16 years ago in The Strip and it was not exactly a vibrant area of the city. That has changed, as have the demographics of the city, with so many new businesses opening in Pittsburgh. It is great for the city and for the young people of Pittsburgh.

Iconic Pittsburgh place you’ve still never visited?

I have never visited St. Mary of the Mount Church on Grandview Avenue.

Where will we find you this Saturday night?

On Saturday, November 25, I will be in Rhode Island at Dave’ s Marketplace for a book signing. I always enjoy going there. There are always a lot of people and everyone is so joyous.

It’s time to unwind. Where do you head?

When I need to unwind I head to the water on a sailboat, to my garden or to enjoy my grandchildren.

Lidia with her mother Erminia and her grandchildren.

Last photo you took on your phone?

The last photo I took on my phone was of the last remnants of the herb plants in the corner of my garden.

Besides the essentials (keys, wallet, phone), what do you always carry with you?

Besides the essentials, I always carry pictures of my two kids as little babies and a Madonna medal.

Where will we find you on a Sunday morning?

Sunday morning you will find me cooking in my kitchen at home, with my mom seated at the table peeling vegetables for the vegetable soup I am most likely making.

What question do you wish we had asked?

I wish you would have asked what would have been my last meal, and I would have answered Spaghetti with White Clam sauce.

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Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...