Q & A With Lidia Bastianich, Part 2: The Italian Chef on Facebook, Twitter + Sunday Suppers | Squid Ink | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Q & A With Lidia Bastianich, Part 2: The Italian Chef on Facebook, Twitter + Sunday Suppers

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Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM

click to enlarge Bastianich And Her Mother At A Sunday Night Family Supper - WWW.RESPONSIBILITYPROJECT.COM
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  • Bastianich And Her Mother At A Sunday Night Family Supper
When we first caught up with Lidia Bastianich, the doyenne of Italian cooking was telling us about her upcoming cookbook on the history of Italian American cuisine and the 3,000 loaves of bread that Eataly, her latest investment, bakes through most days. Those two topics, one staunchly marked by tradition, the other an experimental new venture, very much summarize Bastianich's career choices.

In this edition, Bastianich, tells us how she manages to juggle so many business ventures at once (having children who actually want to follow in their parents' footsteps helps) and offers up her thoughts on her family's range of social networking, including Facebook, Twitter, and Sunday night family suppers. Turn the page for more.

Squid Ink: As you are in L.A. quite literally as we speak, actually, in a taxi, it begs the question. Why have you taken a back seat in the restaurant scene here to your son, Joe Bastianich?

LB: Well, even I can't do it all [laughs]. You've got to know what you can do. I let Joe do Mozza, my focus is really a lot on the books, the TV show, the products like a line of pastas we started.

SI: Are you worried about your brand becoming watered down?

LB: The key is really more how do we reach all of these people who follow me, who are fans? That is always the question. The restaurants are one way, books are another, products even another. I am blessed that the food business is good for me. Good to me. I get to work with my daughter, who does the TV with me, the cookbooks, the products. My son does the restaurants and wine. That sort of energizes the entire thing, connects us.

SI: That's great. Still, surely it must be difficult, or at least annoying some days, always being "on" for your fans.

LB: You know, my fans have developed a relationship with me, I could not stand there and not recognize them. Yes, you're opening up to a complete stranger, but I enjoy it. Some people do not, and I can understand that, but I have no problem with it. And if I don't want to be a part of that at some time, I make sure I'm in a place where no one will recognize me. But I believe that if I am "out there," like I am, then I belong to the public. That is part of my role.

SI: What happens when that fan interaction changes to a new medium, like via Facebook and Twitter rather than in person?

LB: I am very much a part of all of that, of Facebook and Twitter. It's essential today, and it is such a great way to communicate. Younger generations, they ask more questions, like on a recipe. But they ask them online. If my staff doesn't know how to answer it, I will answer. But you also can't respond to everyone.

But what I really like is how people today interact online, how they really talk to each other, not so much me. I'm like a mother at home watching the kids play outside seeing how [my fans] have changed, how they are so very interactive today. They also get personal [with me] now in ways they never would before. Do things like comment on whether they like a change to my hairdo. They tell me what color they like, what hair color they don't like so much.

SI: Hilarious. Online fashion stylists. But doesn't managing so many online forums also create a huge amount of work you didn't have two years ago?

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