Considering her many restaurants, books, and television shows, plus her involvement in the gourmet Italian marketplace Eataly, Lidia Bastianich might seem like a known quantity to serious eaters all over America. But take a listen to this week's Special Sauce and you'll realize just how extraordinary a woman she is, and what an incredible life she's led. You'll learn that her childhood was spent in a refugee camp in Turin, Italy, where, according to her, "I waited on line for food with my little plate, just like everybody else." You'll hear how her father joined her and her mother in the refugee camp by escaping then-communist Yugoslavia in the dark of night, in a hail of bullets, while being chased by dogs. How blessed she felt when, at age 13, she emigrated with her family to the US, where they could live in a free, safe environment in Queens, New York, and speak Italian without fear of recrimination. How she introduced the spaghetti-and-meatball-loving customers at her first restaurant to the joys of Northern Italian cuisine by offering them free tastes of polenta with venison. After you're done listening to what this gracious, passionate, and dignified woman has to say about food and life, I'm certain you'll agree with Special Sauce's producer, Marty Goldensohn, who delivered his final edit with this emailed line: "What a star she is."
Wanted: Your Baking Questions for Stella
Calling all serious bakers: We're planning an extra-special call-in episode of Special Sauce starring our beloved pastry wizard, Stella Parks, and we're looking for your most pressing pastry questions! Need advice on make-ahead sweets to reduce your anxiety over the holiday season? How about the best desserts for a crowd? Send us the whole story at [email protected], and you just might get featured on the show. And, of course, keep plying us with your general cooking queries for future call-in episodes with me, Kenji, and Daniel.