22 August 2020

Giada De Laurentiis - TV chef

Food Network star who was born in Rome

Giada De Laurentiis trained as a  classical chef in Paris
Giada De Laurentiis trained as a 
classical chef in Paris
The TV presenter, chef, author and restaurateur Giada Pamela De Laurentiis was born in Rome on this day in 1970.

A classically-trained chef who learned her craft in Paris, she worked in the kitchens of a number of restaurants in Los Angeles before breaking into television. Since 2003 she has been a regular on the Food Network, the American cable channel.

Born into a theatre and movie background, De Laurentiis takes her name from her mother, the actress Veronica De Laurentiis, who is the daughter of producer Dino De Laurentiis and the actress Silvana Mangano.  Her father is the actor-producer Alex De Benedetti.

Giada spent her first seven years in Rome, where her mother still has a home near the Spanish Steps, but after her parents divorced she and her sisters moved to Los Angeles.

Her grandfather had a home in Hollywood and had by then become a restaurateur and Giada has memories of spending time in the kitchen of his DDL Foodshow delicatessen and restaurant in Los Angeles, where she acquired her interest in cooking.

Her own entry into the catering business came via a roundabout route.  After high school, she went to the University of California to study social anthropology, emerging with a bachelor’s degree.

Giada made her break into television in 2003
Giada made her break into
television in 2003
Yet her passion for cooking was undimmed and she felt she would risk being unfulfilled if she did not explore her potential. She enrolled at the world renowned Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris, obtaining Le Grand Diplome, awarded for a combination of classic cooking and patisserie skills. 

Back in Los Angeles, she found work in the kitchen of the Ritz Carlton before landing a chef’s job at Spago in Beverly Hills, where she came to know many celebrity clients.  The contacts she made persuaded her in 1988 to launch her own private catering company, GDL Foods.

Her famous surname attracted attention and indirectly led to an approach from the Food Network, one of whose executives had been intrigued by her background and show business connections after reading a magazine profile and suggested she have a go at presenting a show.

When she was subsequently given her own series, Everyday Italian, the network at first received negative feedback from viewers, who noted Giada's glamorous appearance and accused the TV company of hiring a model or actress who was pretending to be a chef.

Giada's grandfather is the movie giant Dino De Laurentiis
Giada's grandfather is the movie
giant Dino De Laurentiis
Having felt uncomfortable at first with appearing on camera, De Laurentiis might have walked away but she overcame her misgivings and persevered.  Since then, Everyday Italian has become one of the Food Network’s most popular shows and Giada has become one of its most recognisable faces, presenting several other shows and appearing as a guest on many others.

She has also written several cookery books, given her signature to a number of spin-off products and opened two restaurants in Las Vegas, one within The Cromwell casino complex called GIADA, as well as Pronto by Giada, inside Caesar’s Palace. A third restaurant, Italian by Giada, opened within the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore.

De Laurentiis was married for 11 years to fashion designer Todd Thompson but they divorced in 2015. She has a daughter, Jade, who has appeared in some of her TV shows.

She regularly returns to her roots in Rome, where her mother, Veronica, still lives in a house close to the Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, better known as the Spanish Steps.

The pretty Via Margutta was one of the most fashionable streets in Rome
The pretty Via Margutta was one of the
most fashionable streets in Rome
Travel tip:

Giada De Laurentiis’s mother, Veronica, has a house in the area around Via Margutta, a narrow street situated between Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo in the Campo Marzio area of Rome.  Originally home to craft workshops and stables, it now hosts many art galleries and fashionable restaurants, having become popular after it was depicted in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, in which Gregory Peck’s character was said to have an apartment in Via Margutta. It became an exclusive neighborhood popular with artists and figures from the movie industry, including actress Giuletta Masina, director Federico Fellini and writers Renato Guttuso and Marina Punturieri.

The Spanish Steps is one of Rome's favourite landmarks
The Spanish Steps is one of
Rome's favourite landmarks
Travel tip:

The Piazza Trinità dei Monti is a square in central Rome adjoining the Renaissance church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti, at the top of the Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, better known as the Spanish Steps. During Springtime, just before the anniversary of the foundation of Rome, April 21, part of the steps are covered by pots of azaleas. Recently, the Spanish Steps have included a small cut-flower market. The steps are not a place for eating lunch, the consuming of food there being forbidden by Roman urban regulations, but they are usually crowded with people.

Also on this day:

1599: The death of composer Luca Marenzio, an influence on Monteverdi

1849: Venice fell victim to the first air raid in history when attacking Austrian forces attached bombs to unmanned balloons

1913: The birth of nuclear physicist Bruno Pontecorvo, who defected to the Soviet Union after working in the United States

1914: The death of progressive priest Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi


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