Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lidia Bastianich chosen to be "The Papal Chef" in New York

Frank Bruni interviews Lidia Bastianich, who will have the honor of cooking for the Pope during his stay in New York (New York Times Diner's Journal, March 21, 2008):

“I’m so elated,” she said of the honor she’s been given. “I mean — yeah, yeah — it’s just tremendous.”

Ms. Bastianich, 62, an owner of the restaurants Felidia and Del Posto, said she considers herself a devout Catholic, and she’s interacted with Vatican officials based in New York. She’s been active as well in the local Italian community. These associations, she said, seemed to be among the reasons organizers of the Pope’s visit chose her.

She said that she would write the menu and help prepare the food for a dinner for 52 on April 18 and a dinner for 24 on April 19. Both will be private. Neither will be in a restaurant. [...]

Ms. Bastianich said she’d been asked not to talk much about the menus she’s putting together yet, and that her instructions from the Pope’s representatives haven’t been too detailed.

“We discussed some of the things, what he likes and dislikes, what he can and cannot eat,” she said. “What was stressed really was simplicity, seasonality, a light, balanced meal.”

Bruni mentions that:

While in New York, he is expected to address the United Nations, visit Ground Zero, celebrate Mass in Yankee Stadium and eat a Shake Shack burger.

That last part is mere speculation.

Speculate away, but if the Pope decides to forego one of New York City's best hamburgers, it's his loss. ;-)