In a $5 million lawsuit presented yesterday in court, an Italian immigrant who worked for Lidia Bastianich is accusing the Italian matriarch, TV chef, and restaurateur of tricking her into indentured servitude. The Daily News and Post have the story, which goes something like this: A dying handyman for Bastianich promised to give her his house on the condition she take care of his wife. When the wife became ill at the age of 99 in 2005, Bastianich arranged for Italian cook Maria Carmela Farina to come over and live with her, promising she would assist in the running of the Bastianich empire for $600 a week. According to the suit, Farina actually spent her days caring for the sick older woman, mostly unpaid, and only saw the inside of Bastianich's kitchen or studio once. She says she didn't know English and didn't know where to turn to complain.
After the woman died six years later, Bastianich's daughter "demanded that Ms. Farina leave immediately for Italy. She was also informed that upon arriving in Italy she would be paid $10,000 for unpaid wages," says the suit. Sounds a wee bit far-fetched, but expect an update when they fight back (or settle). So far, the Bastianich camp has declined to comment to the press.
· TV chef Lidia Bastianich accused of tricking Italian cook into being senior's caretaker against will [NYDN]
· Chef had worker 'slave' [NYP]