Lidia Matticchio Bastianich came to the United States from Istria -- a peninsula now part of Croatia that is about 90 miles northeast of Venice -- when she was 12 years old with her parents and her brother Franco. While Lidia's mother went to work in a local bakery, Lidia was often responsible for getting dinner on the table in the evenings. But her fascination with cooking really came from growing up with grandparents who ran a trattoria, grew most of the food they sold and ate, produced their own olive oil and wine, distilled their own grappa and cured their own meats-prosciutto, pancetta, guanciale and salsicce. Lidia remembers going with her grandmother to the communal mill to grind the wheat into flour for pasta and bread. This "from the earth" understanding and respect for food has given her a definite style as a cook, and the pristine, unadulterated flavors have become her reference library throughout her professional life.
When Lidia was 24 years old, she opened her first restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens. A few years later, a second restaurant was opened nearby. In 1981, the big move came when Felidia was opened on East 58th Street in Manhattan.
Lidia is now the co-owner, with her son Joseph, of Felidia and Becco restaurants in New York and Lidia's in Kansas City and Pittsburgh. She is also the star of Lidia's Italian American Kitchen and Lidia's Italian Table, shown nationwide on Public Television and in Australia, Canada and Japan. She also has two sauce lines, Lidia's Flavors of Italy and another line produced exclusively for Williams Sonoma. Together with her daughter, Tanya, an art historian, she runs Esperienze Italiane, a high end food, wine and cultural tour company to Italy. She is the author of four cookbooks, Lidia's Italian American Kitchen, Lidia's Italian Table, La Cucina di Lidia, and most recently, Lidia’s Family Table. She writes a monthly syndicated column distributed by Universal Press on Italian food. She is a passionate chef, communicator and teacher who shares her knowledge with culinary students and her audiences through television, books, articles and her restaurants.
Lidia uses her talent as a chef to organize benefits and generate support for humanitarian causes. She has helped raise funds for the less fortunate throughout her career, especially with organizations like Unicef and Unifem. In 1999, the Not-for-Profit Lidia Matticchio Bastianich Foundation was established. The foundation's goals are to benefit the indigent, abandoned, oppressed, neglected, ill or handicapped without regard to race or creed by promoting their health, welfare, happiness and academic and vocational training and development.