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The latest from Hollywood on the Potomac.

“So Lidia, you’ve achieved one name status right up there with Cher! It’s not only here, it’s around the world that she is so recognized. I remember we were having dinner at a little restaurant on an island outside of Venice and this man came to our table and he told us how much Lidia meant to him and his family that they watched her cooking show. And it was her kindness and her family on the show more than the cooking that helped him through the pandemic. And of course, since it was Lidia, she got into a long conversation with him. It’s amazing to me. You cannot walk through an airport with her because you’re going to miss your plane,” said Pat Harrison, CEO Corporation for Public Broadcasting at an intimate and elegant dinner party at the home of Sharon Rockefeller, CEO WETA in honor of Chef Lidia Bastianich – otherwise known as Lidia.

She went on to summarize Lidia’s background emphasizing her resilience and strength and briefly mentioning her escape from communist Yugoslavia and her family’s experience living in a former Nazi concentration camp before coming to America. Despite the adversity she faced, Lidia’s determination, hope and ability to persevere shine through, making her a remarkable individual.

“And that’s why through her 25 years of public media, she’s been telling America’s story of promise and hope through her own special brand of food. She celebrates every day since she became a US citizen.”

“Lidia has enchanted our audiences with her favorite recipes, her passion for food and her unique ability to show us how food can be a way of connecting with others. And I know we all agree in today’s climate and environment that these connections are more important than ever. Enough said, but I’d like to say more so in addition to being one of our favorite television hosts, Lidia is an accomplished author, restaurateur, highly successful business woman. I was going to read to you all her awards and accolades, but there were like 15 pages, but I thought no, no, no. Her greatest honor was to be asked to prepare meals for both Popes Benedict and Pope Francis when they visited New York. I regret to inform you, Lidia, that the folks were busy tonight, but those of us who are here salute you and thank you enormously for sharing your incredible talents with all the rest of us.”

“I also think that Lidia has indeed reached one name status. I don’t really think it’s Cher though. I think she’s more like Madonna,” suggested Susan Goldberg, CEO WGBH Boston. “We are so grateful to Lidia who has shared her kitchen with everyone, introducing people from cradle to cane to authentic Italian cuisine. She is the personification of the American dream coming to America at the age of 12, speaking no English, but wanting like so many immigrants to become American. We’re also really grateful to Julia Child who in 1993 went to Lidia’s wonderful restaurant. It was there that Julia fell in love with Lidia’s risotto which led to an invitation to make a guest appearance on Julia Child’s show. The television cameras just loved her. It wasn’t long after that that she was asked to host a series of her own.  We are so proud to present Lidia’s Kitchen, your current series of 26 half hour shows that teach audiences to draw on their family roots. We live in complicated times where people in our nation talk a lot more about what divides us than what we have in common. But you continue crisscrossing America sharing immigrant stories that have helped our audiences explore new horizons and discover common ground through a shared connection of food and of family.”

Read more here.