Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Lidia Bastianich Delivers CIA Commencement Address

Celebrated Chef-Restaurateur Receives Master of the Aesthetics of Gastronomy Award

Hyde Park, NY – Award-winning chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, author, and television host Lidia Bastianich was the keynote speaker at commencement ceremonies at the New York campus of The Culinary Institute of America on March 1. Following her inspirational remarks to associate degree graduates, CIA President Tim Ryan bestowed upon her the college’s Master of the Aesthetics of Gastronomy Award.

“Lidia is a shining example that the American dream is very much alive and embodied in her and her family,” Dr. Ryan said in presenting the honor to the winner of multiple James Beard and Emmy Awards. “Her story underscores that this is the land of opportunity and that the restaurant industry is the industry of opportunity.”

Bastianich owns or co-owns four New York City restaurants—Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto—as well as Lidia’s in Pittsburgh and Kansas City. She created the Eataly Italian food and wine marketplace, with locations in New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and São Paolo, Brazil. She developed a line of eponymous artisanal pastas and all-natural sauces, a cookware and tableware line, and two wine labels, while writing a dozen cookbooks and hosting several television programs. And, she had the honor of cooking for both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis during their visits to the United States.

She accomplished all of this after coming to America as a refugee, having escaped communist Yugoslavia and spending two years in a refugee camp in Italy.

“Those two years on line for food made me appreciate having food, having enough food, and sharing food,” Chef Bastianich told the newest CIA alumni. “Even though you might encounter adversity, you must persevere and continue…I began my career as an immigrant, but you are beginning your careers as proud and prepared culinary school graduates. There is an enormous world of opportunities in front of you today. ”

Chef Bastianich partners with her daughter Tanya and son Joe on many of her endeavors, and her recently published memoir is appropriately titled My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food. She has won Emmy Awards as host of the public television programs Lidia’s Kitchen and Lidia’s Italy. Her James Beard Awards include Outstanding Chef, Best Chef: New York City, Best Television Show, and Best Broadcast Special (three times). She is also an inductee in the organization’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. Chef Bastianich was a 2015 recipient of an Augie Award from the CIA in 2015 as a woman trailblazer in the food world.

A champion of the Adopt-A-Future program in support of refugee education, Bastianich is also a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier and founding member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.

Her visit to campus coincided with the beginning of Women’s History Month. During her visit, she participated in a reception and roundtable discussion about women in the restaurant industry, accompanied by the screening of a documentary film, A Fine Line, featuring Bastianich and other leading female chefs from around the world. Throughout the month, Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici on the CIA’s New York campus will be featuring one of her signature dishes on its menu.

The entire CIA commencement ceremony, including Chef Bastianich’s address to recipients of associate degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts, can be seen online.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image:

New CIA graduate Laura Abascal poses with Lidia Bastianich at commencement ceremonies at the New York campus of The Culinary Institute of America on March 1, 2019. Ms. Bastianich received the Master of the Aesthetics of Gastronomy Award from the college following her address to the graduating class. (Photo credit: CIA/Phil Mansfield)
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Media Contact:

Jeff Levine
Communications Writer

About The Culinary Institute of America:

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking & pastry arts, food business management, hospitality management, culinary science, and applied food studies. The college also offers executive education, certificate programs, and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its conferences, leadership initiatives, and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry and its worldwide network of more than 50,000 alumni includes innovators in every area of the food world. The CIA has locations in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.

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