Giada De Laurentiis has been a Food Network television star for 19 years. Her infectious personality and stunning beauty has made her a favorite with viewers, who enjoy the way she takes simple ingredients and crafts them into extraordinary main dishes and desserts.
Giada has authored ten cookbooks, all focusing on regional Italian cuisine with a twist. From healthy dinners to weeknight favorites, pasta main courses to family dinners, the stunning brunette has found a way to put a spin on her love of Italian cooking to the delight of her millions of fans, who have placed each of her tomes on the best seller lists.
Much ado is made about Giada’s looks and the way she works with and handles food. She has even been called the sexiest chef on the Food Network, wearing a bikini for the series Giada in Paradise or her favorite low V-neckline shirts.
But is she actually a trained chef, or is all her work the result of learning at the hands of her mother, aunt, and chef grandfather, the great film producer, Dino De Laurentiis?
Giada is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef
Giada’s road to a career in the food industry did not come without its twists and turns. After high school, Giada attended the University of California in Los Angeles, where she majored in anthropology. She always loved to cook and learned at the hands of her extensive Italian family at their home in Rome, Italy. Giada also worked at her grandfather’s restaurant, DDL Foodshow, where she learned the basics of food prep and how to run a restaurant (via Food Network).
The truth was that she could not deny the career pull she felt when it came to cooking and creating new dishes. It was too strong, so Giada traveled to Paris, France, to begin her formal culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She spent three years in the City of Lights, where she learned the basics of food prep and mastered difficult techniques for her extensive curriculum in cuisine and pastry. She received Le Grand Diplome at the conclusion of her education at the institute.
She trained under the legendary Wolfgang Puck
After graduation, Giada returned to Los Angeles, California, where she worked two and a half years at the Ritz-Carlton Fine Dining Room (via Food Network). Years, she claimed, were filled with “cutting my fingers open from opening lobsters ’cause I was doing the amuse-bouche.”
She moved to Spago where she worked under legendary chef Wolfgang Puck. She wanted to be a pastry chef, which was the real reason she originally attended the famed French cooking school, and worked with Sherry Yard, Puck’s longtime pastry chef. This training lasted one year (via Eater).
“When I worked for Wolfgang Puck, I would be cooking on the line and he would stick his finger in all of the food and taste it. I remember being a little shocked and saying to him, ‘Shouldn’t you be doing that with a different spoon each time?’ He would look at me and say, ‘That’s what makes my food taste so good.’ I’m not saying I stick my finger in the food — at least not when the cameras are rolling,” she joked (via Thrive Global).
Giada had to fight to be regarded as a chef and not a TV personality
Giada’s professional kitchen skills were initially not taken seriously by her fans, who regarded her as a beautiful face who could cook. She stopped trying to force her degree onto other people and decided the best route she could take in life was to continue to show what she could do, deliver great recipes, and make the shows she wanted to make.
“I don’t look the part and they don’t believe that I’ve done it, even though I’ve said I’ve done it. Trying to break down those stereotypes. That’s my journey. It’s not everybody’s but it’s mine,” she said of being a classically trained chef (via Eater).
“I stopped trying to fight it and just say, ‘Okay, fair enough, try my recipes. See if you like them. If they work for you, and you feel good doing them, and you fall in love with them, then let’s have a bigger conversation,” she concluded.
She owned a catering company
Before the Food Network came calling, Giada opened her own catering company, GDL Foods. She also helped to style Food & Wine magazine’s Thanksgiving photo shoots, when an editor at the company asked her to write an article about her family’s Sunday dinners.
“He said he had seen my recipes and seen me but didn’t know how I’d be on camera, so he asked me to put together a demo. Nine months later I did it, and Everyday Italian was born—purely accidentally,” she explained (via Food & Wine). “I really thought I’d become a food stylist and then went in a completely different direction.”
Everyday Italian features quick and satisfying Italian dishes. Giada would eventually go on to host other series for the Food Network, such as Giada’s Weekend Getaways, Giada at Home, Giada Entertains, Giada’s Holiday Handbook, and Giada in Italy. She was also a judge and mentor, alongside fellow chef Bobby Flay, on the Next Food Network Star.
Giada used her skills to create a meal for British royalty
Giada put her culinary skills to the test to create a meal for Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton. In an interview with PopSugar, Giada revealed she was chosen over her peers to cook for the couple when they visited California in 2011.
Giada was hoping to pass on some of her kitchen skills to William after she learned that he once tried to make his wife lasagna and was unsuccessful at his attempt.
“I was hoping that if they picked me, somehow I would give him a tip when we met about what makes a great lasagna,” she said.
“I remember meeting him and he told me the exact same story and asked me what was the key to a great lasagna,” and Giada told him that there has to be enough sauce to get a nice crust on top and it’s got to sit before it is cut, otherwise it’ll just be a pool of mess.
When the Food Network came calling, Giada turned them down
Food Network executive Bob Tuschman tried to convince Giada time and again to join him on the fledgling network. It took one whole year to convince her just to make a demo tape where he could see if she worked well on camera and if she could translate her skills to others in a relatable manner. After seeing the way she worked in front of the camera, Bob asked her to be a part of the channel.
It was her brother Igor who wanted to get Giada comfortable in front of the camera. She said he told her, “I’m gonna follow you around for a month in the summer and you’re going to look at me and you’re going to talk about every single thought that comes to your mind. I’m not gonna let that camera off of your face.” (via Eater).
She claimed she was so “irritated” by the idea and the two fought over it (via Eater). However, in the end, his trick worked and Giada appeared more comfortable on-camera than during filming for the first season of Everyday Italian, when she only allowed the side of her body to be seen and she would not talk about her personal life to viewers.
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