2014 Honoree

Lidia Bastianich

Emmy award-winning television host, author, and restaurateur

“Educating women can make a big difference in world peace, food production, health, and stable families.”

Who inspires you the most?

My mother Erminia. She is courageous, energetic, honest and always positive. She is my pillar of support and strength.

She had the courage to bring our family to the U.S. when my brother and I were only 12 and 14 years old and she did not know the language nor have any known relatives before she departed. She is hardworking and set the example, helped me raise my children and supported and worked with us in starting our business, our flagship restaurant Felidia, through her 70s. At 94, she still runs our household; we live together. She educates and feeds the grandchildren when they come for visits and oversees our garden. And most importantly, she always gives us lots of love and shares her positive energy and outlook on life.

What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew
ten/fifteen/twenty years ago?

Lately, I have begun to realize how comfortable people feel around me –sometimes even complete strangers. They are not afraid to come up and say hello, give me a hug, tell me about their families and ultimately let me know that I remind them of one of their own family members. I wish I had realized this before.

Fill in the blank: You can never have enough _______.

Love and Passion. There is always room for a little more.

What City best describes your personality?

New York. There is an energy here that I love and keeps me going. However I do need to go back to the peacefulness of our winery in Friuli and enjoy the tranquility of walking through the rows of vines. It makes life all the more balanced.

What gets you through even the toughest days and what are you most grateful for?

I am ever so grateful for my loving family and my spirituality that helps me through tough times.

What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most? Do you feel that women are typically presented fairly in the media? Why or why not?

I feel that the opportunity for education for women in America and around the world is the key. Women with the power of education makes for a potent cocktail. Educated women can make a big difference in world peace, food production, health and create stable families.

What will it take for women to be viewed as equal to men?

I think women are equal to men already. If talking professionally, we need to make sure we are prepared for the challenge at hand and approach it not as a “female” but rather as a professional, do what we do best, and exert confidence and security about our performance and ultimately expect the recognition that is deserving of our actions. I certainly feel that I’m viewed as equal to men in my profession.

What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?

Best decision – returning to my love for food: I was always attracted to the sciences, but the kitchen kept calling me back. I don’t believe in a “worst decision.” All decisions in life teach us something ultimately-–even the not-so-positive ones.

Social media has exploded. How can women use it to market themselves without seeming narcissistic?

Be honest to your followers. Engage them; listen to them, try and give them what they ask for. Always deliver what you promise.

Write a fortune you’d like for all women to receive in a fortune cookie?

Follow your passion, be positive, continue to grow and be at the cutting edge of your projects. Success and happiness will follow.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

My super power would be to feed every hungry child in this world.

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