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Lidia Bastianich Speaks To Us About Her Live Show And Connecting With Her Canadian Audience

February 6, 2013 | By More

Photo Credit: Diana DeLucia

Celebrity Chef Lidia Bastianich is bringing her Italian gusto to Canada with Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!” February 10, 2013 at 3pm, at Toronto Centre for the Arts. Beloved celebrity chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich has spent the last forty years promoting Italian culture and cuisine across North America. While adoring Canadian fans have enjoyed watching Lidia on TLN, they’ve never had the opportunity to see her in a Lidia Live performance… until now! Lidia’s culinary roadshow, Lidia Live!, makes its Canadian debut this February 10, 2013 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in Toronto.

Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen recently spoke with Lidia for Foodea about her live tour, Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!”, her inspirations, her family, the importance of eating together at the table, and much more! Read the second part of our interview with Lidia here.

What made you want to stop in Toronto and give the Canadian fans a chance to see you live cooking in action with Saputo Presents… “Lidia on Stage”?

I think Toronto is a beautiful city. I’ve been before visiting friends and doing events. I think because I am on television in the United States and now with the audience building in Canada and TLN (Telelatino), about two years ago decided to carry me and it was such a great success. The audience in Canada really connected with me, especially in Toronto. I want to come and see them. I do a lot of that in the United States. I do book signings, presentations, fundraising, and so I just wanted to extend the same to my audience in Canada. I want to touch them. I want to see them and I want them to see me in person.

What is the structure of the live show? How is it going to work?

The structure of the live show is there will be a live audience, and there will be a kitchen set up on the stage with a screen. I kind of go back and forth. I cook three recipes and those are the recipes I’m teaching like a cooking class. They see through the video, the practicality, the same way that I do on television, so they see the same thing, the same Lidia, “that’s how she does it.” I think what’s wonderful about that, is that the smells permeate and they get a chance to hear what I do. And within that we have an opportunity for questions at the end. Between all of that I intertwine my life. The same things they ask me when they send me emails. They love my family, they want to know more about my grandchildren, more about my children, my mother, my life, how did I get into cooking and this is really a kind of a one-on-one personal discussion with them. And I do what I do in person. There will be a screen and it will have interviews of Grandma, who cannot be there, so that they get a chance to understand Grandma and her philosophies. What it was like for her to come here as an immigrant and have a family and her philosophy about food. My daughter as well. How has it been to grow up in this family, what affect did it have? And because what you see on television is the real thing, even the setting is my real kitchen, and so we do that, we do that regularly. Yesterday was Sunday. I had my brother, for two days, lunch and dinner, 10 people at the table and I loved it! I just love cooking, I still do that. So I’m going to share all of that. And I think opening with tips of cooking, they get to go out with ones they love, they take away the recipes, and then we sit down with a glass of wine and answer questions.

It sounds like a really unique experience for audience members.

I think that you know, that’s what food is. Food is a profile of who we are as individuals. We all have our flavour profiles that we love and that goes back to our ethnicity. Where do we come from, you know. Do we come from the North of Africa? Do we come from the North of Europe? Two different cultures all together and that reflects into who we are, but it’s also important to make us feel stable. It’s important to gather the family, because yes you have the same name, yes you have the same genes, and you look alike. Yes you eat and cook the same food, and you have favourite recipes that carry and transcend through the generations. I know my father, he’s long gone, it was 30 years ago, but he loved Baccala Mantecato. So for Christmas you know we make this Cod dish and every Christmas eve I must have this Baccala Mantecato because that means that he is with me. So I think that this is the way people relate to food. It’s nostalgic. It gives you identity and all of that.

Do you like having a live audience there or do you prefer shooting on a set for television better?

I like both. You wonder sometimes. I modestly compare myself to some of the stars of the screen and broadway. Ultimately they all want to be on broadway. On the screen is great, but you don’t have that immediate reaction. In front of an audience you hear them. You hear them sighing or chuckling or whatever, you know! They’re really into what you’re doing and I love that.

Any clues on what recipes you’ll be featuring on the tour?

I will make a Frico with potatoes, onions, and sausages. A Frico is very familiar. What it is, it’s a shredding of asiago cheese. This is a traditional recipe that I make. I crumble onions and sausages first and that’s the filling. And add some cooked potatoes, like home fries, to the onions and sausages. And then in a non-stock skillet I put the shredded asiago cheese, I put the filling and I top it again with the shredded cheese and the cheese melts and it forms a nice crust on one side and I flip it over and it forms a nice crust on the other side and you have this cheese, crusty cheese pancake, with a filling of home fries, sausages and onions. And it’s easy!

And then Pasta. Pasta Amatriciana, traditional pasta with tomatoes and onions. Very traditional. Very simple in a sense. What happens here is that all the tips of cooking the right pasta, the water, and how long to cook it and not to wash it, and not to put olive oil. All of these, you know, I’m making this recipe, but with it goes all this general pasta wisdom.

And then I make a Chicken Gratinate with Mushrooms and that is a one pot delicious recipe that is very seasonal. And could be done at home easy. And it’s one pan. In this case I make it with mushrooms because it’s kind of mushroom season. Brown them in the same pan with a little oil and butter. And the chicken breast, lightly flour, brown. And I take the chicken breast, the mushrooms cut, top 2 on each of the chicken breasts and then in the same pot I put a little bit of wine, some tomato sauce, some sage and a little water or stock. Let that simmer and the sauce will be made. Then I take some grated cheese, could be asiago, could be grana, and put it on top of the mushrooms. I put a cover on and I let it simmer and as the chicken cooks, and the sauce denses, the cheese melts and you have a perfect meal. You can do it with mushrooms, sometimes I do it with zucchini, sometimes eggplant, depends on the season. And Chicken, everybody loves, but it could be done with pork, or veal or chicken that everybody relates to. So I’m going to give them the diversity of this dish within the season and tell a one pot meal they can make for 6-8 people, depending on how big your pot is on top of the stove. You can have your vegetables and your meat all together.

Then I will do a Zuppa Inglese with Panettone. How you can make delicious things at home not necessarily dessert where everyone gets all hyper. I use Panettone, and then I make some savoiardi, and some some custard. And soak the Panettone and make layers and put it a pan and then you know, you make a Zuppa Inglese, which is just like a trifle. With Panettone and and savoiardi and whether you like a little rum flavouring or whatever. And all of that sort of settles overnight in the refrigerator. It sets and then you can kind of, like a trifle, spoon it out and in Italian it’s called Dolci al Cucchiaio, spoon to eat. And in Italy they have a lot of those desserts. Again, all of these are very family friendly recipes and delicious desserts. So we’re going to go through all of this. And they’re going to have lots of tips to walk away with.

Your show is available on TLN. Why did you feel that was an appropriate fit for your message of family and food?

Teletino is very ethnically oriented. I think you always go with what you think is safe and a sure bet. I know that that’s their culture. But we’ve sort of transcended that. I think that food being ethnically Italian or whatever, food is the common denominator for all of us. Food is a great collective.

Your shows also air on PBS. What’s it like working with PBS?

That’s where I wanted to be. When a producer came to me and said “Lidia, how about thinking about making a show.” So I gave it some thought and I came back with two things that I needed. Number one that it is taped in my home because I was afraid of the studio. I know my home, I know my stove, I know everything. I’m very comfortable there. The second one is that my shows run on public television because I’m about culture and education. Concrete information, not making something in a kitchen set, that’s not me. And so I think that my home is public television.

Lidia shares her recipe for Italian Rum Cake – Zuppa Inglese from Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!” with us.

Italian Rum Cake – Zuppa Inglese


  • 2 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 Cup Saputo Mascarpone at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons Cornstarch
  • Pinch Kosher Salt
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Diced Candied Orange Peel
  • 1/4 Cup Rum
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Sleeves Savoiardi (lady fingers)


  1. For the pastry cream, pour the milk and ¼ cup of the sugar into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together ¼ cup sugar, the cornstarch, and pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the egg mixture bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you do not cook the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Return saucepan to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring and whisking, until mixture just simmers and thickens. Immediately remove from the heat and scrape into a bowl to cool. Once cooled, mix in the chopped chocolate and candied orange. Refrigerate until chilled and thickened, at least 1 hour.
  2. For the sugar syrup, bring 3 cups water and 1 cup of the sugar to boil. Boil until reduced by about ¼. Remove from heat, stir in the rum and let cool completely.
  3. When you are ready to assemble the zuppa, whip the cream, the remaining ¼ cup sugar and the mascarpone to soft peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream mixture, along with the cinnamon, into the chilled pastry cream.
  4. In a 9-by-13 inch Pyrex or other rectangular dish, make a flat layer with half of the savoiardi. Brush with half of the sugar syrup to moisten all of the savoiardi. Spread half of the pastry cream over the savoiardi. Top with another layer of savoiardi and brush them with the remaining syrup. Spread the rest of the pastry cream over top in an even layer, the spread with the whipped cream. If you have any savoiardi left, crumble them over top. Chill several hours, or overnight, to let the flavours come together before serving.


The distinct creamy consistency and fresh milky character of Saputo Mascarpone guarantees its superb flavour, making it the ideal cheese for a wide range of recipes. With its delicate fresh creamy taste and easily spreadable texture, it is the ideal ingredient for desserts.

Download Recipe as PDF.

About Lidia

Lidia’s live and interactive performance is being admiringly entitled “Stirring Stories: From the Kitchen and the Heart” and comprises a live cooking demonstration of favorite recipes intertwined with enthralling personal story telling.  Audiences have a rare chance to see Lidia in action, live and in-person, ask her questions and learn tips from the Queen of Italian Cuisine herself! From humble immigrant roots, Lidia’s passion for food, family and pleasing people drove her to build a gastronomic empire consisting of six restaurants, vineyards, a cooking school and Italian food emporium (EATALY in Manhattan), a television production company and a series of best selling cook books.  According to Lidia, “Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways.  It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from.”

Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!”, Sunday, February 10, 2013, at 3pm, at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Purchase Tickets through Ticketmaster.

About Abbey

Abbey Sharp is a registered dietitian, an avid food writer and blogger (for both a personal blog, and Eat St. Food Network’s blog), a passionate home chef, and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen. She has a BASc. in Nutrition and Food, and has participated in numerous formal and informal professional culinary courses. Balancing the ideological demands of being a foodie and dietitian, Abbey understands that food represents so much more than nutrients, numbers, calories, and portions. It can symbolize culture, family, love, identity, and sensuality at its peak. With its role in such a variety of delicious domains, Abbey believes that a pleasurable relationship with food is inherently essential for good health. Abbey has embraced this philosophy in all aspects of the Abbey’s Kitchen brand including her social media activities, speaking appearances (i.e. TEDx), blogging, food events (ie. Sips and Nibbles), food demonstrations, as well as through academic and popular writing. Her goal has been to break the common association of healthy food as boring and bland, and demonstrate instead its inherently satisfying, flavourful and sexy qualities.

Original Audio

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Category: Food, People

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