My American Dream was released on April 3rd, 2018.
“Everyone knows me as a chef, TV host, restaurateur and author,” says Lidia Bastianich. “But I am also a refugee who has lived the American dream.” Lidia grew up behind the Iron Curtain in Pola, a small city on the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula. While in many ways she enjoyed an idyllic childhood—it was an old world life, spent close to the land in her grandmother’s backyard and in vineyards, orchards, and courtyards – her family suffered under Yugoslavia’s communist regime, eventually becoming one of its targets. “While life seemed great for me at the time, what I didn’t know as a child was how communism took away almost everything my family stood for. Communists changed our last name. We couldn’t speak our native Italian language. They took away our religion; I even had to be baptized in secret! Communism threatened my dad’s business. So we were forced to flee,” Lidia says.
In 1956, Lidia and her family escaped across the border to Trieste, Italy, where they spent two years in the refugee camp of the Risiera di San Sabba, grim barracks that used to be a Nazi concentration camp. During her time there, Lidia helped the nuns of the school she attended by cooking in the kitchen – her first taste of working in a big commercial kitchen. Finally, in 1958, sponsored by Catholic Charities, the family boarded a plane to New York. Lidia vividly remembers the kindness they received when arriving in America. “Complete strangers and nonprofit organizations were willing to give us a home, fill our cupboards with food, and find my parents a job. There was so much generosity and to this day we have so much gratitude for the people and organizations that helped us when we most needed it.”
In My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food, Lidia takes readers from her life under communism, a dramatic escape across the border and life as a refugee, to her journey to America – penniless – and the launch of her food business. She describes the struggle to open her flagship Manhattan restaurant, Felidia, and all the accolades that followed, including the night that Julia Child and James Beard came to dine (which later resulted in the launch of Lidia’s TV career). The rest, they say, is history.
Order your copy here.