Rumor has it that celebrity chefs put on their pants one leg at a time. Which is another way of saying they grapple with many of the same life challenges we ordinary home cooks do.
One of those we are all facing right now is how to stave off the boredom, simultaneously keeping your cooking skills sharp during the COVID-19 pandemic. See how chef, author, and food ambassador Lidia Bastianich copes by tuning in to “Eating In With Lidia,” two new half-hour PBS specials produced by WGBH Boston and Tavola Productions.
Lidia gives viewers an intimate look into her life at home as never before seen as she shelters in place during these stressful times. “Situations like these teach us what the term ‘need’ really means,” Lidia advises. “I feel like now, in this time of global pandemic, it could never be a more important time to value our family memories and share food as a way of nourishing our souls.”
In the first half-hour episode of “Eating In With Lidia,” subtitled “Back to Basics,” the chef shares the stories behind the great pantry-inspired recipes that her family have been cooking and enjoying together for years — in both good times and challenging ones. She recalls living off the land during her childhood. “While we certainly struggled during various times in my life, I still have incredibly meaningful memories of all of us huddled in the kitchen around the table enjoying delicious dishes made from very simple ingredients, the same kinds of ingredients that you probably have in your pantry right now.”
The second half-hour episode is subtitled “Craving Fresh.” In it, Lidia shows viewers how to mix and balance seasonal flavors from the garden to create new recipes based on what is available.
Each of the two half-hour specials features a combination of original interviews with Lidia, in which she shares her childhood memories and how they relate to today’s challenges, together with beautiful footage from the places, moments, and recipes from her younger years. The special also includes several simple-to-follow recipes curated from Lidia’s Public Television programs, as well as segments where Lidia answers some of the questions gathered from social media events leading up to the broadcast.
The shows will be a family affair in the true sense. Lidia’s grandson, Lorenzo, filmed the interviews since a traditional television crew could not be permitted into the home. And Lidia’s beloved 99-year-old mother, who has been by her side throughout the pandemic, makes a cameo appearance as they share some intimate family stories along with a few very touching songs.
Both episodes will have their digital premiere beginning Friday, May 29, 2020 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS.org, the PBS Video App, and the PBS YouTube, Facebook, and IGTV channels. The broadcast premieres will begin May 29, at 10:30 pm ET on PBS (check local listings). For those looking for an interactive experience, Chef Lidia Bastianich will join the Digital Premiere on the PBS page on Facebook to answer questions from viewers during Friday night’s Facebook premiere.