Premiered February 12, 2021, 10PM ET on PBS. (Check Local Listings)“It’s incredibly emotional for me, seeing these individuals who are devoting themselves to the well-being of their communities. Many of them endure emotional scars, and yet they continue to get up day after day to serve. I am in awe of them.” – Lidia Bastianich
Celebrity Chef Lidia Bastianich travels across the country visiting the men and women serving on the front lines. She meets first responders who’ve worked quietly in the shadows, and now find themselves thrust into the spotlight by crises facing the country in 2020.From coast to coast, Lidia follows dedicated police officers, firefighters, paramedics, military and medical workers—looking to find out how they were trained, what motivates them, and capture the true spirit of what it means “to serve.” Lidia will also observe first-hand, the prominent role that food plays in these first responders’ lives, as they work tirelessly 24/7 caring for others.
A Salute to First Responders is a celebration that is long overdue, and uniquely suited to the times. Almost everyone has a story about how they, or someone they know has been helped by a first responder. As Denver Fire Chief Eric Trade so aptly puts it, first responders “make tremendous personal sacrifices while serving quietly and with heart. They show up for others during their most stressful times, or what often is felt to be the worst day of their lives.”
- Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck, New Jersey Meet Michele Acito, the chief nursing officer at Holy Name Medical Center, who oversees five emergency ICUs, and Jeff Rhode, the hospital staff photographer who documents it all. Continue
- Jacob Mual, Sonoma County, CA Jacob Mual cooks for his fellow firefighters in Sonoma County, California, where wildfires have devastated the state.Continue
- FDNY EMS Station 17, South Bronx, NY How have Captain Jennifer Ison, an EMS station chief in the Bronx, and paramedic Lieutenant Dwight Scott handled the increased risk from the pandemic?Continue
- Francesca and Connie Zappella, Jersey City, NJ Francesca and Connie Zappella, two female firefighters and sisters in the Jersey City Fire Department, share their inspirational stories about family, strength, love, and community.Continue
- Eddie McNamara, New York, NY Retired New York police officer, Eddie McNamara, worked in rescue and recovery during 9-11 and has since struggled with PTSD. Today he is a chef.Continue
- Operation Gratitude, Washington D.C. U.S. Army Veteran Jenine Melton lost her brother Jesse, in the war with Afghanistan. She now volunteers with ‘Operation Gratitude’, among other organizations, sending care-packages to front-line workers. Continue
Learn how to make Breakfast Risotto, Lidia’s gift to the front-line workers she met while making her special A Salute to First Responders.
As she moves from story to story, Lidia becomes overshelmed by the critical need to give thanks to these every day heroes. She visits Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages to military overseas and to our first responders here in the United States. Lidia writes her own personal letter to be added to one of those packages . The special culminates with a gesture of food, Lidia’s favorite breakfast risotto delivered to the hostpital workers at the Holy Name Medical Center. “Food is my love language,” says Lidia. “I hope that I can inspire viewers to reach out to thank the first responders in their communities, or even to become first responders themselves.”