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the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
Beautiful, successful, talented, funny and down-to-earth. They say you can’t have it all, but Italian culinary icon Giada De Laurentiis sure seems to come close. And whether playing the role of wife, mom, chef, host, spokeswoman, mentor, cookbook author, TV star or pasta perfecter, the sexy Food Network starlet manages to make it all look effortless.
Last Friday during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, I had the pleasure of sitting down one-on-one with Giada at Miami’s Casa Tua restaurant, before her ‘Italian in Paradise’ dinner event. She candidly shared details of her incredibly busy life and dished about cooking at home with her family, embarrassing moments, common misconceptions and more.
I’ve seen you at at all these food festivals, in NY, LA, everywhere — what makes SOBEWFF so special?
It’s the first food festival I ever did. Lee Schrager, years ago, took a chance on me and brought me to the festival. He said “let’s try you out, do one demo, we’ll see what the crowd says and we’ll figure it out. I have a good feeling about this.” Oh, I was so nervous. And Alton Brown, who I am good friends with now, at the time had some sort of conflict and wasn’t able to attend. So, Lee had me cover for him and all of a sudden I went from having one demo to three demos. I was terrified! But I just remember having the best time ever even though nothing went right—I couldn’t even get my water to boil because of the crosswind on the beach, so I kinda just did a Q&A. Even though it was the scariest, it actually ended up being the best. I feel like it all started here, and I have a really close connection to South Beach because of it.
What do you cook at home, when the cameras are off?
I make a lot of things that my daughter and husband like to eat because they are my favorite people to cook for. My daughter is a big pasta fan, so lately we’ve been making stuffed pastas, a lot of homemade raviolis, and pizzas too. She’s into anything in a ball shape—meatballs, burgers… she’s been grilling a lot with my husband. And lately, mac ‘n’ cheese cupcakes. She is in love with cupcakes, so instead of sweet cupcakes, we’ve been doing savory ones. My daughter, Jade, eats depending on her mood. She knows what she wants and when she wants it.
Other than Italian food, what types of cuisines do you like to cook and eat?
I’ve been cooking a lot more Greek food, and have been playing with Indian food too. And Thai food! My husband, Todd, is a huge Thai fan. And I just went to Thailand in December to shoot my show, so I’ve sort of come up with all these new Thai recipes. I brought a bunch of spices back with me, things that I don’t usually cook with, so I’ve just been experimenting and trying out dishes. It’s been a lot of fun to explore these new flavors.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you on TV?
The first time I ever did live television was on The Today Show, maybe 10 years ago when my first cookbook came out, and I made a grilled chicken breast with spinach and basil pesto. I was on the air with Al and Matt and there was also a food stylist on set. So I’m having a conversation with Al, but out of the corner of my eye, I see Matt cut into a chicken breast and I thought to myself, “that chicken doesn’t look cooked.” It had grill marks on it, but the food stylist never finished cooking it! Matt put the chicken in his mouth and realized it was raw. He ran off set to spit it out in the trash, of course the cameras followed him, and he came back and said “Giada tried to poison me! She will never, ever work on TV again.” I almost died! I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or not, since I wasn’t used to him or his humor. I was horrified.
But that appearance got me a correspondent role on the show and I’ve been there ever since. Sometimes when you think of a disaster, it actually ends up being the best thing in the world. You just never know in life.
If you could cook a dream meal for one person, who would it be and what would you make?
Marilyn Monroe. I find her fascinating. It’s amazing to me that someone who died so many years ago could still be such an icon. And I kinda just wanna know what her secret was, what was going on in her head. I’d probably make her a nice creamy vodka sauce since I know she liked her vodka, serve it with a good bottle of wine and probably some chocolatey, luscious strawberry dessert. Sexy, romantic, sumptuous and sensual, like Marilyn.
If you weren’t a celebrity chef, what career would you want?
I probably would work in politics somehow. Or maybe be a CIA agent or something, I’m fascinated by people that can live in such secrecy.
But since you are such a public figure, what’s something most people don’t know about you?
I think people think that I am just so perfect all the time. Ya know, I’m more spontaneous than people think I am. And something I’ve been working on for years is to not use my potty mouth so much. I tend to speak a certain kind of language that I probably should not. And people that know me well say to me, “how can those words come out of that face!? How is it possible?” Hey, I’m working on it.
If you had to be stuck in a kitchen with one of your Food Network Star co-mentors, Bobby or Alton, who would you choose and why?
First reaction — Bobby. But, truly, I’d pick each one of them for different reasons. Bobby would have my back and and he’s a great chef. Alton, on the other hand, would make me laugh. He has such a witty personality, so he’d probably be more entertaining in the kitchen, but I don’t think he has the skill set that Bobby has. Alton thinks he has the skill that Bobby has, but he doesn’t. So they both would bring very different things to the kitchen.
What would you want for your last meal?
My last meal would be a seven layer chocolate fudge cake. I am such a chocoholic and if I could just eat cakes and sugar and chocolate for the rest of my life, I would. It’s my first choice, always and forever.
Grazie, Giada! It was an absolute pleasure chatting with you.
Follow @GDeLaurentiis on Twitter to keep up with all things Giada, including exciting new projects and shows, two children’s storybooks she’s putting out in September and a new cookbook in December.
Image courtesy of Food Network