Most of the time we're a little jealous of Giada De Laurentiis her looks, her career, her undeniable way with pasta, and her amazing, pasta-proof body. The sexy host of Giada at Home , who avoids the Hollywood spotlight with the same distaste she might have for frozen pizza, had just made national headlines when a tabloid printed a story falsely charging her of hooking up with musician and infamous cad John Mayer.
Immediately after came the devastating news that her famous grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis, the guiding force in her life, had passed away.
This hailstorm of events would have sent the average celebrity straight into hiding, but not Giada, She scheduled our interview for the little time she had between her grandfather's funeral in Los Angeles and the second one in Italy.
What's more, when she walked into the lobby of the Casa Del Mar hotel, she looked totally TV-ready in leggings, low buckled boots, and a black cape. She's even more petite in person if you can believe it and, oddly, more approachable: Think California girl-next-door meets Sophia Loren. Listen in! RB You've had an incredibly difficult time this last week. What's helping to get you through? GDL That is a really good question.
The John Mayer incident was completely unexpected. I was shocked. And not so much for me, but for my husband and family. My family is used to that sort of thing. But my husband's family is not. Todd was embarrassed that his family in Michigan would see it and think, What is going on over there in Hollywood?
What made it all even more surprising is that I haven't had any contact with John Mayer in three years. You know how you'll briefly get introduced to somebody? Maybe we chatted for five minutes, but I wouldn't consider that intimate I know these things happen, but maybe I was naive to think that they are usually based on some facts.
GDL I think the only things that could possibly have tied us together is that we were at the same hotel that weekend in question — which, by the way, my husband was with me there as well. RB You've been with Todd for 20 years, since you were Is that longtime connection giving you strength right now? RB So you're reeling from this, and then your grandfather passed away just a day later. What do you miss most about him? GDL Any time any of us had a question, we would always call him first.
I saw him nearly every weekend for the last year. He really wanted his family around. He loved to sit and chat with us. RB He wasn't so approving of your career when you started out. Did that change over the years? GDL Over the years, I think he became quite proud, and maybe even a little shocked, at my success. You have to understand that coming from a Neapolitan family, men head up the empire.
I think from time to time he had his own thoughts about the way I created recipes — that they were too easy, maybe too dumbed-down. I remember him once saying to me, "How can you tell people to open a jar of prepared pasta sauce?
RB A lot of people think of you as pretty perfect in every way — beautiful, successful. Is there anything that's not perfect? If we look deep inside, there are issues everywhere. GDL I have been blessed with a good, fun, and wonderful life, but I've also seen a whole lot of pain.
I lost my brother when he was 30, and that was devastating for me. I don't know if I will ever get over it. Plus, I had a very tough childhood. I came here from Italy in the '70s and didn't speak a word of English, so the kids at school tormented me. Truly, it was horrifying the names they called me, and the teachers never really did a thing to stop it.
GDL It's one of the reasons I work as hard as I do to make my show as clear and fun and unintimidating as possible. If people are made to feel uncomfortable in the kitchen, they won't go in there. That's why I think children learning to cook can be such a wonderful thing. It can help build confidence, make them feel good about themselves. It helped me build my ego and even start to get acceptance at school.
I'd bring things to class that I'd cooked at home, and my classmates were like, "Wow. This is amazing, and that girl with the funny name cooked it! RB Do you ever still feel pangs of intimidation and self-doubt? GDL For sure. In fact, pretty much every time I try something different or do something in front of a live audience, I truly think they might throw peanuts at me.
I feel like that child again. But I also think that pit-in-your-stomach feeling is what keeps you alive and better at what you do. RB You really embrace your sexiness and femininity. How do you own that without saying, "I am cooking's sex symbol?
GDL It's only been the last five years that I've become comfortable with that. A lot of it has come with age and being a mom.
I felt like I had to show Jade that her mom is proud of who she is. I would literally sit in class hunched over because I was so embarrassed about my body. I think I still carry some of that around with me. I didn't want to be known as the sexy cook. I wanted people to think I really had some cooking chops. It's almost ingrained in people that, just like you can't be a smart model, you can't be a good-looking cook. RB Is there anything you'd change about yourself if you could? GDL Well, I'm very short, for one.
I wish I had longer legs and arms. My husband is 6-foot-2, and sometimes, if I'm wearing flats, it's like he's taking his teenage daughter out. He didn't know much about cooking, bless his soul. He wasn't that hard to impress [ laughing ], but he's come a long way. Parmesan cheese never existed for him, not even the kind in the green container. Tomato sauce was watered-down ketchup. GDL Not at all. He'd try everything. He's a very inquisitive person. He took a lot of flak from my family. When he would come to my grandfather's house to eat dinner, my grandfather would say to me in Italian, "Who is this person butchering his pasta by cutting it with a fork and knife?
He'd laugh it off, and my family ended up adoring him. Food brings people together on many different levels. It's nourishment of the soul and body; it's truly love. GDL When we first met, I didn't have any money because I was in college, and he paid every time we went out to dinner. So I'd show my love for him by making a meal. And to this day, that is one of the ways that I show how much I appreciate him. Even when I'm not in town, I'll prepare menus for him and Jade so he can just heat meals up. RB Is love or guilt your main motivating factor for doing that?
GDL Absolutely love and respect. I think it can be hard for any man to sometimes be upstaged by his wife. So when I'm home, I work very hard to be Todd's wife and Jade's mother. I have no problem going back to those traditional roles. I try to be Giada, the young girl that he met 20 years ago and fell in love with. All men want to be treated like kings in a relationship, and I think if women don't indulge that sometimes, their men are likely to stray and look for someone who can give that to them.
It's simple. It's not brain surgery. RB Do you ever come home, open a can of tuna, and call it a day? GDL No, but I will come home and scramble two eggs. Two eggs scrambled on a bed of arugula with some fresh shaved Parmesan cheese, and that's dinner.