Did celebrity chef and Eataly Queen Lidia Bastianich keep an Italian woman as a "golden slave" for a sick neighbor in Queens? A $5 million lawsuit filed yesterday says that yes, yes she did. Maria Carmela Farina, who speaks almost no English, claims that she moved from Venice to the States to work in Bastianich's kitchens but instead found herself spending the last six years essentially as an indentured servant for a 99-year-old Queens woman. Cooking for the rich and famous, helping a 200 pound woman get off the toilet—same difference, right?

The whole story comes down to real estate in College Point, Queens. Back in 1995 a handyman who worked for Bastianich, Oscar Crespi, was diagnosed with cancer and made a deal with the celebrity chef and restaurateur. He would sell her his home at 4-37 136th Street for $10 if she promised to take care of his wife, Luigia, until her death. Crespi soon passed on and in 2005 it became clear that the 99-year-old Luigia needed some help. So an associate of Bastianich found Farina in Italy and lured her to the states with the promise of a $600-a-week kitchen job and help with her immigration papers. Except when she got here the only kitchen she found herself working in was Crespi's. "She left everything behind, parted with her friends and family, and embarked on what would prove to be the most horrific experience of her life," the suit says.

"Il schiavo di lusso," Bastianich and her family are accused of calling Farina behind her back ("the golden slave" in Italian). According to the suit the 4'7", 100 pound, Farina did everything for the much larger Crespi woman. "When Farina complained, Bastianich or her daughter and business partner, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, would say she should be thankful." She stuck around for six years however because she grew attached to the older woman, who died last December. And even after all that, the promised kitchen jobs never came. In February Basitanich's daughter "unexpectedly showed up on Ms. Farina's doorstep with a one-way airline ticket to Venice, Italy. She demanded that Ms. Farina leave immediately for Italy," the suit says. "She was also informed that upon arriving in Italy she would be paid $10,000 for unpaid wages."

But Farina didn't leave. Instead she lawyered up and went into hiding in Queens to prepare her lawsuit. Which, we should note, isn't even the only one regarding an immigrant being forced into labor in Queens this month. Reps for Bastianich declined to comment.