Lidia Basianich is a name synonymous with Italian cooking. Since her recent appearances on shows like Top Chef and her own Lidia’s Italy, this masterful chef has been very busy. I found out just how busy at the recent Telelatino EATalian summer launch, featuring the legend herself and her new book/series, Lidia’s Italy in America.
Joined by chefs Robert Rossi (Top Chef Canada runner-up) and Craig Harding (Canoe, Campagnolo), Lidia graciously fielded requests for autographs and personal photos (like the one I got with her below!) They were all there to discuss the exciting summer line up, including Opening Camapgnolo which focuses on the Toronto restaurant’s inception, as well as Lidia’s Italy in America.
(photo courtesy of Telelatino – TlN)
Lidia’s new show explores Italian-American cooking:
In each episode Lidia takes viewers on a gastronomic tour to regions such as Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Padua, Sicily, Trieste and Istria. She introduces them to friends and family, visits food markets, fishing villages and farms as she haggles over the price of fish, forages for the perfect truffle in the soil of her ancestors, or picks ripe red tomatoes from the volcanic ashes of Mount Vesuvius.
I’m also excited to see her daughter, Tanya – an Art History graduate of Oxford – add her own insight to the show. No doubt there will also be an appearance or two from Lidia’s son, Joe Bastianich (probably best known for his disapproving faces on Masterchef America).
While Lidia was focused on promotion of her new show, catering for the event launch was left up to Niagara Food Specialties. These gourmet snacks were accompanied by the latest Bastianich wines, which seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by all. The rose in particular was well-balanced and stood up to the savory meats and cheese being served.
Aside from the food, for me the most interesting part was listening to Lidia talk about her family businesses, and how she was influenced by her childhood immigration to America. Answering questions alongside Campagnolo’s team, Lidia also offered her advice on creating a good restaurant experience:
“The whole experience, it has to look nice, smell nice, be greeted [in the restaurant]… and THEN the food. We have to be nutritionally conscious, watching the fats, and the client to be very happy at the end and understand that to come back.”
One thing that surprised me to learn about Lidia is that she is not averse to dry pasta! In fact, she has a line of her own pastas which we were given to sample at home. “Pasta here reigns,” she explained, when asked about her favourite food. “The question of fresh pasta and dry pasta, they’re both good! Dry pasta with vegetables, linguini with clam sauce, a glass of wine and I’m set.”
Don’t miss Lidia’s Italy in America Monday to Friday at 9:00pm/et, and Sundays from 9-11:30am/et on TlN.