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Photos courtesy of Eugénie Bisulco
Photos courtesy of Eugénie Bisulco

An internationally renowned chef stopped by a Jamaica high school to collaborate with culinary students to decide which appetizer will be served at an upcoming gala.

Lidia Bastianich, who is a restaurateur, author, Emmy Award-winning television host of “Lidia’s Kitchen” and a Douglaston resident, visited with the culinary students and faculty at August Martin High School (AMHS). She led the young chefs and their instructors in making two recipes – a beef bruschetta with arugula and homemade spicy giardiniera, and a cheesy zucchini crostata.

“Lidia’s Bastianich’s visit evoked a range of emotions for our students: they were moved, motivated and validated by her genuine interest in their career goals and words of advice,” said Saran Shields, program director for The Child Center at AMHS. “Being around someone so famous and accomplished may have intimidated them at first, but in the end, they shone with pride in their two successful dishes.”

After enjoying their delectable creations, the students voted on which of the two would be featured at The Child Center’s annual gala, which will be held on May 14 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. The bruschetta ended up winning by one single vote.

“I loved visiting August Martin High School,” Bastianich said. “When you start to see children come out of their shells, take the reins (or the chef’s knives) and really go for it, it gives you a great feeling – you really are helping them to find their voices. There is vast potential in these young chefs.”

The Child Center gala will celebrate the organization’s 65 years of service to thousands of children and families of New York. Lidia Bastianich will serve as an honoree at this milestone occasion.

In December, Chef Lidia visited one of The Child Center’s Head Start programs in Woodside, reading from her children’s books and engaging the young children in a lively demonstration on fresh herbs.

“As a Queens resident, immigrant, woman and mother, Lidia Bastianich really embodies what The Child Center is all about,” said Traci Donnelly, CEO of the Child Center. “The culinary – and life – lessons she shared at August Martin this week are inspirational to me personally, but they also greatly honor our mission as an agency.”

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