Lidia Celebrates Stories of Resilience and Service

December 8, 2021

Lidia Celebrates America: Overcoming the Odds

As Americans close out a challenging year,  public television chef Lidia Bastianich travels the country to find inspirational stories of resilience and service. “Lidia Celebrates America: Overcoming the Odds,” airs December 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on PBS (check local listings) and will be available on and the PBS Video app.

“These overcomers understand better than most that all of our futures are interconnected,” said Bastianich, who has been hosting “Lidia Celebrates America” specials on PBS since 2011. “Now more than ever, we need each other to survive and thrive. It was a special gift to me to be able to thank them all for their incredible resilience and their service to their communities.”

Lidia Bastianich celebrates the resilience of those who've overcome loss

In the one-hour special, produced by GBH and supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Bastianich visits, either in person or virtually:

  • Jarrett Adams of Los Angeles, who was wrongly convicted and served nearly 10 years in prison before being exonerated. He is now an attorney and 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.
  • Tony Hillery of New York, who founded Harlem Grown, a nonprofit 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.
  • Kristen Thomas of Raleigh, N.C., who aged out of the foster care system and asked the group One Simple Wish for cooking classes as she prepares to become a foster parent herself. In addition to the classes provided by the nonprofit organization, Thomas gets a visit and personal cooking lesson from Bastianich.
  • Yannick Benjamin of New York, a sommelier who was paralyzed in a car accident. Benjamin 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.
  • Jake Wood of Los Angeles, a Marine veteran who co-founded Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that helps veterans transition back to civilian life through volunteering in disaster zones around the world. Bastianich follows Team Rubicon as they help Maria and Marco Peña rebuild their Houston home that had been flooded during Hurricane Harvey.

For the finale, Lidia takes over Yannick Benjamin’s restaurant Contento to prepare dishes in honor of her featured guests, including chopped salad with frisee and fennel inspired by Harlem Grown, baked rigatoni and zucchini inspired by Jarrett Adams.

“‘Lidia Celebrates America’ is all about how food bonds us and helps to build community,” says Laurie Donnelly, GBH Executive Producer. “In ‘Overcoming the Odds,’ Lidia crisscrosses the country meeting Americans from all walks of life who embody what it means to truly triumph over adversity. In these challenging times, their stories can inspire us all.”

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