Celebrity Chef Lidia Bastianich Talks Working With Teenage Christopher Walken

"He was a feisty young man"

Lidia Bastianich and celebrity guests on PBS special

Lidia Bastianich — one of television’s most beloved culinary stars — has fond memories of working side by side with a teenaged Christopher Walken.

“He was a feisty young man,” she remembers.

Bastianich, 68, was just 12 years-old when her family immigrated from Italy in 1958.

Shortly after settling in Astoria, Queens, the future owner of Felidia (243 East 58th Street) ventured across the street and applied for a part time job at Walken’s Bakery.

“I lied and told them I was 16,” she tells TheTVPage.com.

“They took me on and I stayed for quite a few years — through junior high school and high school and part of college.”

It was at the bakery (now Broadway Hardware) that Bastianich worked side by side with the future Oscar winner.

“Christopher would come in on the weekends then he would go to dancing classes,” she recalls.

“On weekends, when he got older, he would deliver the wedding cakes.”

Bastianich — a regular contributor to public television cooking shows for almost two decades — often spent summers swimming with Christopher and his two brothers but insists she never dated the up and coming actor.

Half a century later they remain close friends.

Walken, 72, is among the celebrity guests joining Bastianich for her latest PBS special LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, premiering December 11.

The documentary-style program features six celebrity friends — Walken, actress Rita Moreno, journalist Ann Curry, model Padma Lakshmi; celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson; and conductor Carlo Ponti, Jr. — sharing their holiday traditions and stories about coming to America.

One segment (below) features Bastianich and Walken cooking scallops together in her home.

“Actors, they play golf, they paint, they sky dive…but I think that to have a restaurant might be a lot of fun,” Walken confides in the segment taped a full year ago.

So far, the DEER HUNTER star has no plans to open his own eatery.

“But he is a good cook,” Bastianich says. “He has the sensibility. His father was a wonderful baker. So maybe he got something from him.”

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly