#INTERVIEW: GIADA DE LAURENTIIS
You’ve been mesmerized by her incredible beauty and seduced by her Culinary delights on the Food Network, but Giada De Laurentiis is actually in Toronto to draw focus to an important cause close to all of our hearts. The Italian-born American Goddess is here to host Chef’s Challenge: The Ultimate Battle for a Cure at the Toronto Congress Centre, the Event supporting a $4.5 million pledge to Mount Sinai Hospital with an emphasis on Women’s Health and Cancers research.
Although her Itinerary was filled to the brim, the Los Angeles Native was kind to take a few moments out of her day to chat. I was guided into her Dressing Room, where she was relaxing on a white Barcelona Couch, inviting me to have a seat. Exuding absolute confidence yet still managing to be extremely personable, it was evident within seconds why she is adored dearly by so many Men and Women alike.
I’ll be honest with you – my schedule doesn’t allow for much TV Watching, hence I never found much of a need to add the Food Network to my Cable Package. It was a few months ago that I was home watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – my usual comforting background noise – as I finished-up some Blogging before bedtime. I couldn’t help but notice De Laurentiis – bubbly, effervescent and outright hilarious as she tried getting Fallon to drink a healthy Smoothie with Gin in it. He tried it begrudgingly and even though he didn’t love it, I for one was won over. I rummaged through YouTube for Clips of her Cooking, a search rendering a litany of Fan-uploaded Clips of her Recipes like Lemon & Lavender Cookies, Pork with Sweet Onion Marmellata, Butternut Squash Tortellini made with Wonton Wrappers – all sumptuous, relatively easy to make and yummy. “Jimmy is such a lovely Human Being. He makes you feel so comfortable as if it’s just the two of you” she reveals to me, “I’ve done a lot of Talk Shows – trust me – it’s so intimidating.”.
De Laurentiis walks me through her experience of immigrating with her Family from Italy to America as an eight-year-old, a decision made after the Patriarch of her Family, her Grandfather, encountered lucrative opportunities stateside, taking them to New York for a couple years before relocating ultimately to California. On her first introduction to American Cuisine she says, “The first thing I remember was going to a Friend’s house and having a TV Dinner. I remember thinking to myself ‘Is this Dog Food? What is this exactly?'”. Needless to say, her discerning Tastebuds were not impressed with the frozen and then reheated offering. Her first pleasurable experience with American Food though came a bit later when she encountered French Fries and Burgers. To this day she remains a Fan of Regional Fast Food Chain, In-N-Out Burger.
I ask her for a bit of advice on where to dine in Los Angeles, since I’ll be visiting for the first time later this month. The options are plentiful, I learned. “We truly have some of the best Mexican food, because we’re so close” she says, “Pettycash Taqueria is really, really, yummy and super, super casual.”. She also gives Tex-Mex Hotspot Border Grill from fellow Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger a glowing review, but for Italian she names Capo (Italian for “Captain”) as her Favourite. The City she tells me, is obsessed with Korean Food, a movement fronted by Korean-American Chef Roy Choi, which is seeing Locals warm-up in droves to Korean Barbeques and Tacos. “It’s a huge culture in L.A. for us”.
I ask about when it was that she realized her Career would take a turn for the Culinary after majoring in Social Anthropology at U.C.L.A., which made her one of the first in her Family to partake in post-secondary studies. “I realized at the beginning of College, but my Parents insisted I finish”, says the eventual Graduate of ultra-prestigious Le Cordon Bleu. “I wanted to be a Pastry Chef, so what better place than Paris?”.
Finding work as a Pastry Chef wasn’t easy, especially returning home from France to one of the most health-conscious cities in the World. She soon found herself working with Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck and his Pastry In-Charge, Sherry Yard. From there she became THE Ron Howard‘s Personal Chef, flying back-and-forth from Los Angeles to Connecticut, before branching into Food Styling, catching the eye of Food & Wine Magazine during a trying post-9/11. That golden opportunity for exposure led her to sudden stardom when the Food Network took notice of her potential and she certainly hasn’t looked back since with a booming Catalogue of Books, Products and TV Series, the latter garnering her a Daytime Emmy.
Two defining flavours have become synonymous with De Laurentiis’ Cooking are sweet and citrus. Naturally she has a pronounced Sweet Tooth in being a self-admitted Chocoholic. She touts highly one of her latest Creations, Bonbon-esque Chocolate Fig Bites, found in her latest Book, Giada’s Feel Good Food. “I get it – kids are sick, people don’t feel good and people need to be eating better”, she says about the inspiration behind the New Release. “It’s been fun to change things up and try to find ways to make really great Treats to help make people feel better.”.
Being a Mother with a flourishing Career, she understands the need for Go-To Meals and short preparation times. “I’ve always wanted to find ways to inspire people to get into the Kitchen to make Italian that looks and tastes fantastic”, states the petite Powerhouse. “There’s a time and place for making things like Bolognese and all of these things to take a bit longer – but there’s also a time and place to take 15 minutes out of your day to make yourself a Meal.”. She swears by Oatmeal with Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper – her quickest and most often-consumed Breakfast, while her Chia Seed Pudding has proven itself to be a massive Hit, as are her Fennel, Lettuce & Pea Soup and Lemon Spaghetti (note: the proper pronunciation is “Spig-it-tee“) Recipes.
A side of De Laurentiis we often don’t get to see is the Fan side. Many would be surprised just how eclectic her Musical tastes are, in addition to her tastes for Food. “Celebrities were never a big deal to me because I grew-up in L.A.” she admits, “I like out-of-the-box people and people who are real; they don’t always have to be big Movie Stars.”. She does however, tell me her favourite Acts include the likes of Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, MGMT, Lorde, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Joel, Julio Iglesias, Gipsy Kings – although the latter two she probably never would’ve admitted to enjoying in her youth. “Now that I’m older, I kinda like it because it brings me back to those days!”. Songs like Harlem (New Politics) and Who You Love (John Mayer ft. Katy Perry) currently are on high-rotation for her.
For those who don’t speak Italian, the name Giada means “Jade”, which decidedly is the name of her Daughter. On how De Laurentiis manages to balance her highly-successful Career with Family Life, she leaves us with one bit of advice. “I do it one day at a time. I have a great Husband (former Skier Todd Thompson) who helps me a lot, a great Family and two great Ladies who’ve been with me since the very beginning”, she imparts. “You have to be okay as a Woman to feel like you know when to ask for help and be okay with asking for help, realizing you can’t do everything.”.
Watch and listen to Mr. Will‘s Chat with Giada De Laurentiis below:
More Snaps below:
…and how sweet is this??:(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong)
#FOOD: FOOD NETWORK CANADA ANNOUNCES HOLIDAY 2013 LINEUP!
We could all use some inspiration this Holiday Season, right Canada? FOOD Network Canada has announced over 360 hours of Holiday Programming kicking-off Monday, November 25, 2013!
Among the star-studded Lineup include Holiday Editions of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Rachel Ray’s Week in a Day, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, Iron Chef America, The Pioneer Woman, plus Specials from Gordon Ramsay, Giada De Laurentiis, Lynn Crawford and John Catucci!
Food Factory: The House That Santa Built
Monday, November 25 at 11pm ET/8pm PT
Encore Presentation Wednesday, December 4 at 9pm ET/6pm PT
Food Factory rings in the holiday season with the story behind some of our favourite Christmas treats. Viewers will discover how Santa’s little helpers assemble four million gingerbread houses every year, how Christmas elves use 11,000 litres of spirits in their boozy nutty fruitcake, how 2,000 Belgian chocolate Santas are handmade in the lead up to Christmas, and how 125,000 litres of eggnog are pumped out in time for the holidays.
Food Factory: Yule Love This
Monday, November 25 at 11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT
Encore Presentation Wednesday, December 4 at 9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT
Food Factory unwraps the story behind some of our favourite seasonal sweets. Find out how 20,000 yule logs are hand rolled and decorated every season, how wildberry candy canes get their signature shape thanks to robotic elves, how a Scottish cookie factory bakes 20,000,000 shortbread cookies every week, and how 20,000 slabs of minty holiday bark are produced every day.
You Gotta Eat Here! – Happy Hollandaise
Friday, November 29 at 9pm ET/6pm PT
Encore Presentation Friday, December 13 at 9pm ET/6pm PT
’Tis the season to be jolly and You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci is trying hard not to let his hunger get the best of his Christmas spirit. So, if the perfect way to spread holiday cheer is by singing loud for all to hear, John’s doing his part and revisiting some of his favourite chefs and restaurants from the show. He’s spreading joy and even more hollandaise at Shine in Victoria, BC, telling everyone to forget the sugar plums and imagine a double decker sandwich dancing in their heads at The Early Bird in London, ON, and there’s nowhere else you should go for a warm, Caribbean style Christmas pudding than way up north at Antoinette’s in Whitehorse, YK.
You Gotta Eat Here! – Season’s Eatings
Friday, November 29 at 9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT
Encore Presentation Friday, December 13 at 9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT
It’s Christmas time and in the spirit of the season, You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci is giving a lot more than he is receiving. From Santa’s lap, to a visit with the elves in the ‘North Pole’, John travels the country and revisits old friends from the show in their restaurants so he can share in how they cook up the most special of Christmas meals. John serves a heaping of festive treats at Jelly Modern Doughnuts in Calgary, AB, learns that where there’s fresh seafood, there’s more than one way to stuff a turkey at Saint John Alehouse, NB, and enjoys a real Italian Christmas with a traditional Tiramisu and Chocolate Salami for dessert at That Little Place By The Lights in Huntsville, ON.
A Pitchin’ In Christmas
Monday, December 2 at 11pm ET/8pm PT
Encore Presentation Wednesday, December 11 at 9pm ET/6pm PT
Chef Lynn is nuts about Christmas and this holiday season she’s decking the halls to the nines and whipping up an unforgettable Christmas feast! On the guest list is none other than her extended family made up of a few of her Pitchin’ In friends. They’ll all be bringing some of her favourite ingredients to cook with from heritage turkey, leg of Canadian lamb, to Vidalia onion cornbread all the way from Georgia. Be prepared to raise a glass of good cheer, laugh out loud at Chef Lynn’s zany shenanigans and enjoy all the warmth and magic the season has to offer.
Chopped: Celebrity Holiday Bash
Tuesday, December 3 at 10pm ET/7pm PT
Encore Presentation Saturday, December 7 at 9pm ET/6pm PT
Actress Terry Hatcher, Anthony Anderson, Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Gilligan Island’s Dawn Wells compete in the Chopped kitchen for their favourite charity. The party begins with sparkling cider and doughnuts in the first mystery basket. Wagyu steaks are served up for the entree round and the final moments of the competition are filled with drama and suspense as the competitors rush to get their plum pudding desserts plated.
Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas Cookalong Special
Thursday, December 5 at 9pm ET/6pm PT
Encore Presentation Sunday, December 8 at 6pm ET/3pm PT
Gordon invites families to cook together in a Christmas cookalong special featuring a three-course festive feast of turkey with pork, porcini and sage stuffing; Madeira gravy; clementine carrots with freshly grated nutmeg; Brussels sprouts with chilli, lemon, garlic and toasted hazelnuts; and the perfect goose fat roast potatoes with garlic and rosemary. Plus, Gordon serves up a delicious starter of parsnip and pea soup with a walnut pesto, and a show-stopping ice cream snowball for pudding.
Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day: Season’s Serving
Wednesday, December 11 at 6pm ET/3pm PT
Encore Presentation Saturday, December 21 at 11am ET/8am PT
Rachael shows viewers how to feed hungry friends and family with five holiday worthy meals that can be made in just one day: Ruby Port Braised Short Ribs and Mashed Potatoes, Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Roast With Fennel and Golden Raisin Stuffing, Pastitsio With Lamb and Sausage, Winter White Coq Au Vin, and Risotto Timbale.
Iron Chef America: Ghosts of Holiday Ingredients Past
Thursday, December 12 at 10pm ET/PT
Encore Presentation Saturday, December 14 at 9pm ET/9:30pm PT
The Chairman unwraps his traditional holiday feast with a new first for Kitchen Stadium. Three teams featuring one Iron Chef and one celebrity Cooking Channel chef must cook with the most feared ingredients from previous holiday battles, in a battle of “Ghosts of Holiday Ingredients Past.” Competing chefs include: Iron Chef Michael Symon & Ching-He Huang; Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto & Gerry “G.” Garvin; and Iron Chef Jose Garces & Bobby Deen.
The Pioneer Woman: Christmas Special
Friday, December 13 at 6pm ET/3pm PT
Encore Presentation Saturday, December 14 at 9am ET/6pm PT
Christmas is coming and it’s a big day on the Pioneer Woman ranch. It’s all about festive food, fun and family traditions. Host Ree Drummond celebrates the holidays by cooking up divine Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas gifts, and her little elves, the kids, are on delivery duty. Then the Drummonds hit the town for the annual Christmas parade of lights before heading back to the ranch for a fabulous feast of Prime Rib with Rosemary Salt Crust, elegant Duchess Potatoes, nine-hour Burgundy Mushrooms and scrumptious Whiskey Cream Sauce.
Rachael Ray’s Easy Holiday Feast
Sunday, December 15 at 11am ET/8am PT
Encore Presentation Wednesday, December 18 at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Rachael Ray has come up with a holiday meal that’s guaranteed to impress all of your guests…and you’ll be impressed that with just a little planning, you can make the entire thing in under 60 minutes! At the centre of the table: Soy and Cider Brined Turkey on Toast Points with Maple-Soy Gravy paired with three delicious sides: Orange and Paprika-Scented Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Barbequed Corn Succotash and Roasted Sugar Snap Peas with Black Pepper.
The Pioneer Woman: Christmas is Coming
Monday, December 16 at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Encore Presentation Sunday, December 22 at 10am ET/7am PT
Everyone’s invited to the Pioneer Woman ranch as the Drummonds count down to Christmas. Host Ree whips up a cozy and casual Rigatoni and Meatballs to eat while the family trims the tree, then she makes her mom’s Holiday Bacon Appetizers — so she’s stocked up for whoever drops by the ranch over the festive season. Santa’s asked for chocolate this year when he comes down the chimney, so Ree shows viewers how to make incredible Chocolate Mint Brownie Bites.
Trisha’s Southern Kitchen: Holiday Cookie Party
Monday, December 16 at 7:30pm ET/4:30 PT
Encore Presentation Sunday, December 22 at 10:30am ET/7:30am PT
Host Trisha Yearwood is joined in the kitchen by her dear friend Lisa and her daughters, “T-Bone” and Haley, for a Yearwood tradition, her annual holiday cookie swap. Together they make Sweet Tea for the bakers, then it’s on to the cookies. There’s bound to be a cookie to please everyone, when Trisha makes Snickerdoodles, Bess London’s Pecan Tassies and lovely Iced Sugar Cookies.
Iron Chef America: Winter Ice Battle
Monday, December 16 at 11pm ET/8pm PT
Encore Presentation Saturday, December 21 at 9pm ET/6pm PT
Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Jose Garces team up to battle Iron Chefs Masaharu Moriomoto and Geoffrey Zakarian in a frozen wonderland, where food must be served on elaborate plates carved from huge blocks of ice. Judges are actor Anthony Anderson, chef Alfred Portale and restaurant consultant Karine Bakhoum.
Giada’s Christmas Dinner
Thursday, December 19 at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Encore Presentation Saturday, December 21 at 10am ET/7am PT
Giada and her family celebrate the holidays at Aunt Raffy’s house in Aspen. Fun filled days in the snowy mountains begin and end with family meals, good cheer, and amazing food. The menu for the weekend includes traditional Italian struffoli, delicious straccoto (Italian pot roast), a special holiday French toast, and more!
Barefoot Holiday: Back to Brooklyn
Thursday, December 19 at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT
Encore Presentation Saturday, December 21 at 10:30am ET/7:30am PT
It’s a trip down memory lane for Ina and Jeffrey with a day trip to Brooklyn visiting places old and new. The day kicks off with a fabulous breakfast, followed by a culinary tour of the city including a visit to the best pizza place in town, Franny’s Pizzeria. Finally, it’s back to East Hampton for a retro nightcap.
Restaurant: Impossible – Holiday: Impossible 2
Tuesday, December 17 at 11pm ET/8pm PT
Encore Presentation Saturday, December 21 at 10pm ET/7pm PT
This is Chef Robert Irvine’s biggest mission yet as he and his team are heading to the Jersey Shore to transform not one, but two, locations that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. With three days and $50,000 for the makeovers, Robert and his team will work to restore the LBI Pancake House to its former glory, and give the dedicated first responders of the Ship Bottom Fire Company a much deserved “thank you.”
Sandwich King: Holiday Sandwiches
Friday, December 20 at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT
Encore Presentation Monday, December 23 at 12:30pm ET/9:30am PT
Most people associate the holidays with big roasts, but Sandwich King host Jeff Mauro isn’t most people. He’s got sandwiches on the brain when everyone else is in feast mode, and he’s always thinking about ways to work with that holiday cheer. So he heads to his grandmother’s house to learn the secret to her special holiday sausage bread and — of course — turn it into a sandwich. Say hello to the Sausage Bread Brunch Sandwich.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: Tennessee Holiday Traditions
Friday, December 20 at 10pm ET/PT
Encore Presentation Sunday, December 22 at 5pm ET/ 2pm PT
Guy’s digging into the unique holiday traditions in Hendersonville, Tennessee at a barbecue joint that serves up a traditional shoulder pull and a holiday ham with a fiery finish. And over in Nashville, Guy visits a tiny taco joint wraps up traditional Mexican tamales and unique quinoa sweet potato tacos.
Complete Schedule and Lineup here. Happy Cookin’!
(Photo credit: FOOD Network)