Emmy award-winning Italian chef, television host, bestselling cookbook author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich will headline Northampton Community College’s 2023 Food & Wine Gala, the school announced Tuesday.
The event is the college’s largest annual fundraising event and supports scholarships for students.
Bastianich helped announce the plans for this year’s Food & Wine Gala, participating in the announcement at the school’s Hampton Winds student-run restaurant in Bethlehem Township from her New York City area home a livestream.
“I am so excited to be coming back to the Lehigh Valley,” said Bastianich, who has visited the area over the years. “I’m looking forward to being part of this special event that helps provide scholarships to students in the region,” she added.
Bastianich has been inspiring chefs and home cooks alike for decades, her popularity growing through her television shows, cookbooks, restaurants and now a line of home cookware called Lidia’s Kitchen.
“She has become a beloved Italian-American icon inspiring all who will listen with her trademark ‘Tutti a tavola a Mangiare‘ or ‘Everyone to the table to eat,'” a news release about the announcement said.
The Food & Wine Gala is related to NCC’s Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival, which went on hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, with special sponsor dinners being held in lieu of it the last two years. “This year, the event has been re-imagined as the Northampton Community College Food & Wine Gala that will be held at the Wind Creek Resort in Bethlehem, Pa.,” the release said.
Featuring a four-course dinner prepared under the Bastianich’s direction, the gala will afford guests the opportunity to meet her at a pre-dinner reception and later hear of how she left war-torn Italy to come to America and eventually become one of its most celebrated chefs.
The gala will also include an auction of vintage collectable wines and amazing experiences, one of which is dinner at one of Bastianich’s famed New York City eateries.
All proceeds from the gala benefit NCC student scholarships. To date, the Food & Wine events have raised more than $2 million for scholarships and academic programs, according to the college.
“We are thrilled (Lidia) will be bringing her culinary expertise and Italian flair to our gala event June 2,” said NCC President David A. Ruth, Ph.D., on Tuesday.
Added Mike Molewski, Food & Wine Committee Chair, “I am proud to say that we are still able to keep the event alive and continue to help NCC students.”
Bastianich said fundraising for academic opportunities is important to her, as she wants to help others achieve their full potential like she has. After living under a communist regime, Bastianich emigrated to the U.S., where she was able to pursue her culinary and other dreams.
“The kindness and help my family and I received when we arrived in America was incredible,” she recalled. “Strangers and nonprofit organizations were willing to give us a home, fill our cupboards with food and find my parents a job.”
Bethlehem-based PBS39, which airs Bastianich’s show Lidia’s Kitchen locally, is among the sponsors of the 2023 NCC Food & Wine Gala and will host Lidia for a special donor meet-and-greet at their studio June 2, the release said.
“We are pleased to be working with NCC on this partnership and are thrilled to once again work with Lidia, who is beloved by our viewers for bringing her delicious meals to tables across the Lehigh Valley,” said Tim Fallon, CEO of Lehigh Valley Public Media.
Bastianich’s newest book is A Pot, A Pan, And a Bowl.
Tickets for the Food & Wine Gala are $500 each and may be purchased online.
More information about the event is available at LehighValleyFoodAndWine.com.