Bayside Historical Society hosts TV chef, best-selling author Lidia Bastianich

Photo courtesy of Tavola Productions

Reserve your spot now and meet the beloved, Emmy-winning TV chef, best-selling author, and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich in person at a special event hosted by the Bayside Historical Society on Thursday, June 29, at the Castle in Fort Totten.

“A Conversation with Lidia Bastianich” (part of the ‘Author Talk at the Castle Series’), will take place from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. After presenting a lecture and conducting an audience Q&A, the author will be signing copies of her latest cookbook, “Lidia’s a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl.”

Lidia’s many fans know that she cooks her delicious Italian dishes, from the heart. And they have become familiar with her famous saying, “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!” or “everyone to the table to eat!”

Photo courtesy of Tavola Productions

“I also encourage all of you to get into the kitchen and cook!” she adds.

Lidia’s smiling face has graced public television for 25 years, and she now has 13 cookbooks under her belt, as well as an autobiography, titled “My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food.”

Her popular PBS show, Lidia’s Kitchen, launched in 2013 and airs on channel 13, locally, as well as on PBS stations across the U.S. You can also find it on YouTube and stream the latest seasons and episodes on various streaming services. On the show, the grandmother of five prepares simple, seasonal and economical Italian dishes that warm the cockles of your heart, from her cozy kitchen in her sprawling Douglaston Manor home in Queens. Viewers feel like they’ve been transported to Italy.

Photo courtesy of Tavola Productions

During a recent phone interview with QNS, the self-described “Queens girl” talked about her beautifully designed recipe book, which she co-authored with daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali.  In it, Lidia shares her favorite, simple-to-prepare recipes for flavorful, no-fuss Italian fare, that use just one pot or pan (or two). 

Some of the mouth-watering offerings include:

  • Balsamic Chicken Stir-Fry
  • Beer-Braised Beef Short Ribs
  • Apple Cranberry Crumble
  • Skillet Lasagna
  • One-Pan Chicken and Eggplant Parmigiana
  • Roasted Squash and Carrot Salad with Chickpeas and Almonds
  • Penne with Cauliflower and Green Olive Pesto

“I was getting ready before the pandemic to write. I was thinking about a simple, straightforward book. How did my mother cook? My grandmother? You know, one-pot cooking,” Bastianich shared. “Then the pandemic came, and it made more sense – everybody was at home, cooking and everyone wanted easy cleanup.”

The friendly chef also talked about her special connection to the many avid home cooks who have tuned in to her show over the years.

“I’ve formed a bond with my viewing audience. They trust me, they write to me and share photos. They got to know my family because I film my shows in my house,” Bastianich said. “When my mother was alive, she used to be on the show, so everybody knew grandma.”

Her grandkids have also been on the show with her, as viewers got to know them and watched them grow up. They’re older now, of course, but still come by many times to visit.

Fans used to ask Lidia about her family members’ favorite dishes. So, she created “Lidia’s Family Favorites Recipes.” Her newest cookbook will be available in October. 

The clever entrepreneur noted that she has built her TV shows around the recipe books she writes. 

So, what is a memorable family favorite? Bastianich said that her children loved gnocchi (potato dumplings) since they were small.

“We would make them together and eat them together. They go with any sauce, like tomato or pesto, or just butter and cheese. Gnocchi is a thing that can evolve with the children’s palette,” she noted. 

When asked about her love of cooking, the “doyenne” of Italian cuisine, told QNS: “Cooking is my life; it’s nurturing. I’m an Italian mother, so I want to feed the world. God gave me this gift of being able to cook good. And to see people appreciate what you do and then, of course, when they sit down to eat, it feels good. You know, food is something very personal.”

As a successful restaurateur, Bastianich currently owns three popular restaurants, as well as three sandwich shops, in Manhattan. She noted that these days, her kids run those businesses.

The author, who has always lived in Queens since she came to Astoria as an immigrant, said she was really looking forward to the upcoming event at BHS.

“I’ve been very busy with my TV shows, books and restaurants, so I haven’t had much time being part of the fabric of the neighborhood. But now, I want to give back a little bit,” Bastianich said.

This event costs $20 for BHS members and $25 for non-members. RSVP at baysidehistorical.org/events or 718-352-1548. You can purchase Bastianich’s cookbooks on Amazon and wherever books are sold.