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Lidia Bastianich is one of my favorite TV chefs: she's parlayed her prominence to help some pretty fantastic causes, while always staying friendly and well above the fray. Last weekend she cooked for the Pope, not once but three times, earning holy praise for recreating the flavors of the Pontiff's mother.
I just got a press release announcing that next month she'll be honored by a new international nonprofit, Bpeace, or The Business Council for Peace, as part of a fundraiser to help their work "accelerating the growth of female entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict countries, including Afghanistan and Rwanda." Honorable endeavors aside, the really impressive part of the press release was this biographical nugget:
"Bastianich immigrated to the United States in 1958 with her family under the sponsorship of Catholic Charities after living in 'displaced refugee' status in Trieste, Italy for two years. Her first job was at Walken's Bakery in Astoria, working alongside the bakers' son, who grew up to become the award-winning actor, Christopher Walken."
Bastianich does such noble work, it would be beneath her to add Walken to her list of charity cases. But her former apprentice could use a little help at giving cooking instructions on TV.