Chef and public television cooking show host Lidia Bastianich has made two recent Morris County appearances … Nov. 30 at Gary's Wine & Marketplace in Madison and Dec. 8 at Mendham Books in Mendham. She spoke with the Daily Record before her Mendham Books visit, during which she signed copies of her new children's book, "Nonna Tell Me a Story: Lidia's Christmas Kitchen.''
Bastianich, perhaps most recognizably known as the host of the PBS cooking show "Lidia's Italy,'' has opened six restaurants in the United States, authored several Italian cookbooks and is part-owner of New York's Italian megastore, Eataly, at 200 5th Ave.
Q: When you started out in the food business, did you imagine you'd have such an expansive multimedia career?
A: I never did. It was not in the plans. But I guess it was in the stores (laughs). I did not project that or have the vision. I just wanted to do what I felt I was good at. I was getting satisfaction from it. And it made economical sense for my family. That's how I felt when I opened my first restaurant in 1971.
Q: You've been on television long enough to have exposed viewers to many aspects of Italian food and culture. Is there anywhere you haven't taken your viewers and readers that you'd like to?
A: It took me four years to go through all of Italy, in 116 half-hour episodes ("Lidia's Italy''). And Italy has 20 regions, so I did 10 regions the first two years and 10 regions the third and fourth year.
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I am already working on the next project, which will be "Lidia's Italy in America.'' I will be taping 52 episodes and traveling throughout America. I'll be following the Italian culinary culture, the Italian immigration story, the Italian contribution to American society and the evolution of different businesses due to the Italian lifestyle.
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