Giada De Laurentiis at Giada
Courtesy of Caesers

Giada De Laurentiis Got Her Start in the Kitchen Under Her Grandfather's Watch

When your family owns an Italian pasta factory, you'll probably be interested in food

Giada De Laurentiis – who is on a first-name basis with millions – is a prominent chef, writer, television personality, and restauranteur. In addition to hosting the Food Network’s Giada at Home, she is founder of the catering business GFL Foods, the designer of a line of products for Target, and the namesake of the Las Vegas restaurant, Giada. Unsurprisingly, De Laurentiis is the winner of a Daytime Emmy Award and a Gracie Award beyond being an inductee into the Culinary Hall of Fame.

Also known for her work as a philanthropist, De Laurentiis is one of the celebrities involved in the annual collaboration between No Kid Hungry and Williams-Sonoma. For this collaboration, the chef designed a limited-edition Williams-Sonoma spatula to benefit No Kid Hungry. Williams-Sonoma will be donating 30 percent of the retail price from each spatula purchase, in addition to a $5,000 bonus on behalf of the designer whose spatula sells out first. Beyond De Laurentiis, Kristen Bell, Faith Hill, Questlove, Jeff Bridges and Neil Patrick Harris have also designed spatulas.

The Daily Meal: You recently collaborated with No Kid Hungry and Williams-Sonoma on custom-designed spatulas for charity. Do you use a spatula in a lot of your food prep?
Giada De Laurentiis: All the time! I just used it the other day after making brownies with Jade -- perfect to scrape the bowl with!

Questlove, Alton Brown, and Jeff Bridges are among the other celebrities that designed spatulas for No Kid Hungry. Assuming that yours was the best, who had the second-best design?
Kristen Bell’s sloth spatula is pretty hilarious.

When did you become a foodie? Or at least interested enough in food for it to be part of your career?
Cooking and food has always been a big part of my life. I’m Italian! We live for big family gatherings with lots of food. My grandfather was really into cooking, so I first became interested in food and cooking as a child because of him. As I grew older, I think my brother Dino encouraged me the most.

In the early days of your career, you worked as a food stylist. Has that played a long-term role in the appearance of food you prepare?
Of course. I always say that we eat with our eyes, so a delicious meal better look just as good as it tastes!

You were one of the first inductees into the Culinary Hall of Fame. Did that induction leave you with any pressure? Or is strictly a positive thing for you?
Being a part of the Culinary Hall of Fame is such an honor, but I think I feel the most pressure from young culinary geniuses I meet in shows I film like Food Network Star. Some of these chefs are so impressive, I have to check myself and make sure I’m keeping up with them!

Giada was the first restaurant you opened. Do you have a favorite item on its menu?
My lemon spaghetti and my lemon ricotta cookies.

Are any of the recipes on the Las Vegas menu from your family?
Most of them are. A lot of my most popular dishes are on the menu, and coincidentally, those are the ones inspired by my family the most. My grandfather used to own a pasta factory in Italy, so I learned from him at a young age. All of the cocktails are named after his movies, too. It’s a lot of fun.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
That’s a hard one, but one of my favorites is [Estiatorio] Milos.

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