Interview With Eataly Partner Lidia Bastianich

Reporter Shannon Golden (left) chats with Eataly partner and celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich. Photo by Sarah Toy/BU News Service
Written by Shannon Golden

Shannon Golden
BU News Service

Lidia Bastianich is an Italian-born celebrity chef, Emmy-award winning television host, and Eataly Partner. Bastianich sat down with Boston University News Service to discuss Eataly and its long awaited opening in Boston.

For the people here in Boston who don’t know what Eataly is, can you tell me what makes Eataly special?

 Bastianich: Eataly is like a piece of an Italian city, it is like three to four blocks of Italy put together with all of the best spirits, flavors, smells, and tastes. Italy is kind of transported to this area, and it is done because Eataly  is Italian food 360 degrees.

We collaborate with the slow-food movement and we have the products of the slow-movement producers, because food is a cultural reflection of people and what they are, and of who they are. It reflects the climate; it is a story of people. Food tells the story and everyone loves the Italian story.Our customers whoever they are, have an opportunity to feel Italian to submerse themselves in Italian flavor.

We have the local products here. The fish, there is no better area than the coast right up here for great fish. We use the local vegetable producers as well. We try to get as much local food as possible.

We have the classes to offer the opportunity to cook Italian food. People who feel intimidated to cook have the opportunity to learn and to taste all of the things that we teach, that we talk about, and show here. What is important here is that we have real Italian artisan infusion, in the people who are working here and the food. Beyond that, it is a social thing happening here, it is an Italian social. What does that mean? It means that food brings people together, food communicates, and I think through the food that is here the people that come here feel very comfortable. Not only do customers feel comfortable with our staff but with the other people here as well especially in La Piazza. La Piazza is a place here where people can gather and get a glass of wine, eat food, talk to the person next to them, make friends, and that is not unlike in Italy. In Italy a lot of that happens, people watching, people communicating, or enjoying a cup of coffee together. That’s the element here and it is very accessible to everyone, we have pasta that costs $2, you don’t have to spend a lot of money here to eat.

Why do you think it is important for people to take a cooking class here at Eataly?

Bastianich: One of the top e-mails I get from people who watch my show is, “Lidia, I feel like I can cook now from watching your show. It’s easier than I thought.” I think that for a lot of people, there is a generation or two that skipped the whole mom and grandma cooking. Ladies went out to work and so they need to come back to that comfort that they can work and do everything, but still can know how to cook too. It is not that difficult and we can meet you half way. We can give you the vegetables cooked and the chicken grilled, but still, it is important to make people feel comfortable with touching food and cooking food and ultimately putting it on the table.

Now more than ever, the table and the getting together is so important. In a world where we are all solitary with cell phones and technology, I think food is becoming an antidote. Food is what is going to bring us together and somehow, phones get put aside when food is there and it has this renaissance of bringing people together.

What is your personal favorite dish to make?

Bastianich: I love cooking seasonal, but if I were to say it would be dry pasta with garlic and oil. Also any vegetable with fish and any meat but pasta is my favorite.

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