Chef Lidia Bastianich, the Emmy Award–winning public TV host who has cooked for two popes, has not let the COVID-19 pandemic stop her from cooking.
Like many of her viewers, Bastianich has been isolating at home. Though she lacks studio space and production staff, she said she wants to connect with her audience and help them feel as if they are part of her home. Food and cooking, she said, can facilitate connection, especially during the pandemic.
“One connecting element is that everyone is in the kitchen and cooking,” she said.
In that spirit, the entrepreneur and bestselling cookbook author and Boston’s WGBH have produced Eating in With Lidia, two 30-minute PBS specials featuring stories and recipes for cooking while at home during the outbreak. They will air back to back on stations Friday through Sunday and be available via PBS’ website, YouTube channel and video app.
The shows include interviews with Bastianich about her childhood and her philosophy of cooking at home and will showcase recipes from her previous television programs that are ideal for making at home. The first episode, “Back to Basics,” will share family stories “in both good times and challenging ones” about the origins of many of Bastianich’s recipes. The second episode, “Craving Fresh” will show viewers how to use available produce in recipes. Some recipes that Bastianich has explored while social distancing have been featured on her IGTV and Instagram Live profiles. They include fruit smash soda, a no-bake tiramisu and a method for rejuvenating leftover pasta.
Bastianich said she found inspiration for the series in the idea that she is staying at home cooking with her family, as many viewers are, and that food can be a source of connection.
“Food is nurturing,” Bastianich said. “Food is a common denominator, no matter what culture you are.”
To produce the show while practicing social distancing, Bastianich worked without a production team and relied on her family to shoot the show at her home. Her grandson filmed the interviews, and her 99-year-old mother participated in segments.
Bastianich said she found working with her family rewarding. “All of this has given me satisfaction,” Bastianich said. “Letting people come into my house, seeing the reality. There is no TV crew. It’s myself and my grandson in my kitchen.”
Bastianich said that her experience spending two years in an Italian refugee camp informed her belief in the connection between family, food and nurture. Despite the difficult circumstances, she tried to remain optimistic.
Through the special, she said, she aims to cherish and share the importance of family and food.
“There’s no better place in this whole world then at the table with the people that you love,” Bastianich said.
I love ❤️ your show n really love it when your Mom makes special debuts along with any of your family. My Mother & Grandparents (God Rest Their Souls)!were from Sicily, Italy from a town called Cefalu!! That has been 1 of my biggest dreams is to visit the Greco Family! I enjoyed your season of going back home to Italy hoping to see a smidgeon of Cefalu. Thank you for all you do to show us you n your life in every way and in cooking.
Anyway, I send prayers for you and all your family and pray Our Gracious God continues to keep you all in His Loving Arms.
My husband Nick and I always looked forward to your show here in Hawaii at 5:30 on Saturday evenings. I have one of your recipe books and love your homespun approach to cooking. I was married to an Italian man and we had a small pizza restaurant so I bottle my marinara sauce which I give to family and friends. I would love to bottle it and sell commercially on a small scale one day. We miss you and hope your show is back soon. Bon appetit!!!! Good health to you and your family. Kathy
Everytime we see you cook on PBS my wife Cheryl and I start yearning for a bowl of pasta! What you cook on your show is very appealing to us. My wife is of Italian/Irish heritage and makes her own gravy and meatballs. We have a pasta dish at least twice a week and sometimes more than twice a week. We would love for you to come to Naples, FL and do a charity event on cooking Lidia style. You would attract many fans and admirers like us. Please consider it after Covid-19 is under control. We love you! And we love your Mother also. God bless and stay healthy.
I love her recipes that remind me of my Grandma’s cooking. My Gram was from Piemonte Italy up North. She raised me with dishes like Gnocchi, Ravioli, polenta , risotto, etc. I am now way up in years, but can still do these dishes. I love watching Lidia and her mom. Reminds me of home and childhood.
I like that she is so down to earth without a dozen herbs you have to buy and never use again and all the fancy bottled stuff a certain cook uses and whose recipes cost a fortune to make.
I love to watch you interact with your grandchildren! Please clarify something for me. What do they call you? I thought that they called you “Nonni,” but my Italian teacher says that is impossible, it must be “Nonna.” I am a new grandmother, and I have been referring to myself as “Nonni,” but I don’t want to be incorrect. Thanks
Lidia I so enjoyed watching your show especially when Your mother was on, so beautiful God bless her and your wonderful family hers was a life well lived.
Hello Lydia, my mother, awho was a fabulous cook introduced you to me and I love watching your programs. I was wondering if you have ever made timbale on your show. Do you have a recipe?
My condolences to you and your family on the passing of your mother. May she rest in peace.
Love you God bless you and your wonderful family So truly sorry for the loss of your mother what a beautiful woman she was and I truly love watching her with you on your cooking show I also really enjoyed the pleasure your grandchildren took in sharing that with you I’m not Italian but I’m an excellent Italian cook and my fondest wish is to spend a few months in Italy enjoying the culture and the food and people God bless you and your entire family
I really miss your Mom. She was exactly like my Nonna
Dear Lydia and family,
I was so sad to hear your Mom passed.
She always seemed so joyful.
She will be greatly missed
My deepest sympathy.