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Food and Family

A Family's Business

The Bastianich family knows Italian food—it's their passion and their business. Mother and Chef Lidia Mattichio Bastianich is the owner of four restaurants. Her flagship is Felidia in Manhattan, which was nominated this year for a James Beard Outstanding Restaurant award.

Son Joseph and daughter Tanya pursued their dreams as young adults and by serendipity found themselves back at their mother's side within a few years. Bastianich talks about how wonderful it is to work with her children.

"As parents we raise and teach our children how to walk, talk and grow, and to eventually be educated and responsible adults. Then we let them fly off to go and build their lives," she says.

"My children grew up, got their educations, flew off and then came back. I now have the delightful opportunity to be their mentor, life teacher and partner. It is not all smooth sailing but it is delightfully rewarding for mom."

Restaurant Entrepreneurship

Son Joseph Bastianich co-owns with his mother Felidia and Becco restaurants in New York and Lidia's in Kansas City and Pittsburgh. The restaurant entrepreneur also co-owns Esca in New York with chef Mario Batali.

Bastianich says she was surprised when Joseph announced that he wanted to come into the family business.

"He had spent all his growing years around food, wine and restaurants, and when he finished his education and went off to Wall Street, I thought he found his calling. But two years on Wall Street added to his business acumen and he soon realized that family business was something he could grow and develop ever more," she explains.

Sharing Ideas and Knowledge

Daughter and art historian Tanya Bastianich operates Esperienze Italiane, a high-end food, wine and cultural tour company to Italy. She often accompanies her mother on culinary tours there.

"Tanya is passionate about Renaissance Art and Italy and during her PhD dissertation research work in Italy realized that her mom's passion and knowledge of Italian food and wine and her knowledge of Renaissance art could offer a true understanding and flavor of Italy to the traveler," explains Bastianich.

The family business didn't start with Lidia. Her mother worked in a local bakery after the family came to the United States from Istria, near Venice. And before that, Lidia's grandparents ran a trattoria in Italy, growing most of the food they sold and ate, producing their own olive oil and wine, distilling their own grappa and curing their own meats—prosciutto, pancetta, guanciale and salcicce.

With this history, and those genes, is it any wonder that Lidia has become known as the First Lady of Italian Cuisine in the United States?

 

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