March is Women’s History Month, and each week we will be highlighting an Italian or Italian American woman for #ItalianoftheWeek.
On February 21, 1947, Lidia Giuliana Matticchio was born in Pola, Italy. A few days before her birth, the Paris Peace Treaty handed the Italian city over to Yugoslavia. In 1956, the family sought refuge and moved to Trieste where they lived in a refugee camp. When she was 12-years-old, Lidia and her family immigrated to North Bergen, New Jersey.
In 1971, Lidia and her husband, Felice Bastianich, opened their first restaurant in Queens, New York. Within a year, she began to train as the assistant chef in the restaurant. Lidia was a natural. The Bastianich’s second restaurant – Villa Secondo – was where Lidia began to create her own dishes and gain the attention of local food critics who praised her delicious and simple meals. In the 1980s and ‘90s, Lidia and her family expanded their empire – opening restaurants across the country and publishing cookbooks. Most recently, Lidia partnered with Oscar Farinetti and Mario Batali to open Eataly in Manhattan.
In 1998, Lidia started her own television series: Lidia’s Italian Table followed by Lidia’s Family Table, Lidia’s Italy, Lidia’s Italy in America and Lidia’s Kitchen. She has also starred in MasterChef USA, MasterChef and Junior MasterChef. In 2013, she was awarded the 2013 Emmy for Outstanding Culinary Host. Lidia is credited with introducing audiences to authentic and regional Italian food while also embracing Italian American dishes.