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Internationally celebrated chef, award-winning television host and bestselling cookbook author Lidia Bastianich
Armando Rafael / Courtesy of GBH Boston and Tavola Productions
join the internationally celebrated chef, award-winning television host and bestselling cookbook author Lidia Bastianich (pictured) in LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA "Overcoming the Odds," which explores our ability to rise-up and meet the challenges we face.

Premieres Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022 at Noon on KPBS TV / On Demand

The last two years have presented incredible challenges, from the global pandemic, massive unemployment, hunger, and homelessness, to racial tensions and political upheaval. Yet, Americans are picking themselves up and moving forward, united by resilience and a drive to find meaning and purpose in their lives, no matter the obstacles or uncertain times. Join the internationally celebrated chef, award-winning television host and bestselling cookbook author Lidia Bastianich in a new PBS special, LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA “Overcoming the Odds,” which explores our ability to rise-up and meet the challenges we face.

In this hour-long program, Lidia travels from big cities to small pockets of rural America, both in person and virtually, to share the inspiring stories of a diverse group of resilient Americans who have overcome extraordinary odds in their own lives, found purpose in serving their communities, and turned their loss into inspiring accomplishments.

LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Overcoming the Odds - Preview

“These overcomers understand better than most that all of our futures are interconnected,” said Lidia. “Now more than ever, we need each other to survive and thrive. In LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA "Overcoming the Odds," it was a special gift to me to be able to thank them all for their incredible resilience and their service to their communities.”

Throughout the special, Lidia shares these inspirational stories, including: a wrongly convicted man who became a lawyer and advocate for the underserved after spending nearly a decade in prison; a paralyzed NYC restaurant owner who opened a barrier-free restaurant and launched a nonprofit that supports and empowers people with disabilities; and a group of veterans who help people affected by natural disasters — and their story about helping a local family in Houston, Texas that lost their home due to Hurricane Harvey.

A Gathering of Truly Inspirational People

Profiled in LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA "Overcoming the Odds":

  • Convicted of a crime that he did not commit and sentenced to 28 years in a maximum-security prison Jarrett Adams (Los Angeles, California) served nearly 10 years before being exonerated. Adams used the injustice he endured as inspiration to become an advocate and attorney for the underserved. He is co-founder of Life After Justice, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing wrongful convictions and building an ecosystem of support and empowerment for exonerees’ as they rebuild their lives.
Advocating for Justice After A Wrongful Conviction

  • When Tony Hillery’s (New York, NY) business fell apart during the 2008 financial crisis, he began volunteering at a school in Harlem. Shocked by what he saw, he founded Harlem Grown, an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition.
Harlem Grown, An Oasis In New York City

  • Kristen Thomas (Raleigh, NC) aged out of the foster care system and had her wish granted through One Simple Wish, a nonprofit organization serving children in 49 states through a network of over 800 community partner agencies. In preparation for becoming a foster parent herself, Kristen wished for cooking classes. One Simple Wish provided those cooking classes, and Lidia supplemented them with her own personal culinary course at Kristen’s home in North Carolina.
A Simple Wish for a Former Foster Child

  • Paralyzed in a car accident, sommelier Yannick Benjamin (New York) co-founded Wheeling Forward, a nonprofit that supports and empowers people with disabilities, as well as Wine on Wheels, a sister program that raises awareness and funds for people in the wine industry with disabilities. A longtime sommelier at the University Club of New York, Benjamin is currently focused on Contento, a restaurant in East Harlem designed to be barrier-free for those with disabilities.
A Restaurant without Barriers

  • Jake Wood (Los Angeles) spent four years of service in Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat sniper in the marines. Back from war, he felt lost without a clear mission and purpose. When he heard about the devastating earthquake in Haiti, he organized a team of veterans, including fellow marine and close friend Clay Hunt, to fly down to help. Shortly after, Hunt took his own life. It was at that moment when Wood’s mission became clear: he would help veterans redefine their purpose and support their transition back to civilian life. He co-founded Team Rubicon, a non-profit has today supplied thousands of volunteers and donated over a billion hours of service in hundreds of disaster zones around the world. In LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA, the team comes to the rescue of Maria and Marco Peña to help them rebuild their Houston home that had been destroyed by the devasting flood waters associated with Hurricane Harvey two years prior. Lidia connects with the family and talks about what it’s like lose your home, a feeling she experienced, viewers learn, when she entered a refugee camp in Trieste, Italy at the age of ten.
Losing ‘Home’

As with her other specials, LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA “Overcoming the Odds” culminates with a gesture of food – a gathering of some of the people she has visited with along the journey. For the taping, Lidia took over Contento, Yannick Benjamin’s restaurant profiled in the special, and she prepared dishes in honor of the men and women she met.

Dishes included Chopped Salad with Frisee and Fennel inspired by Harlem Grown, Baked Rigatoni and Zucchini inspired by Jarrett Adams, and desserts honoring Lidia’s story, including Italian favorites including Babas Infused with Limoncello, and Tiramisu.

Lidia’s Chopped Salad

Watch On Your Schedule:

This program is available on demand.

With the PBS Video App, you can watch your favorite and local station shows. Download it for free on your favorite device. The app allows you to catch up on recent episodes and discover award-winning shows.

Join The Conversation:

Lidia Bastianich is on Facebook + Instagram + follow @LidiaBastianich on Twitter


A production of WGBH Boston and Tavola Productions. Lidia Bastianich is host. Executive Producers are Lidia Bastianich and Laurie Donnelly.