Giada De Laurentiis
The granddaughter of famed producer Dino De Laurentiis, Giada De Laurentiis was born on August 22, 1970, in Rome, Italy. She moved to the United States at the age of 7. Inheriting a passion for cooking, De Laurentiis studied at Le Cordon Bleu. She worked as a caterer before landing her first cooking show, Everyday Italian. Today she is a best-selling author and well-known culinary personality.
Giada De Laurentiis comes from a show business family. Her mother, Veronica De Laurentiis, is an actress, and her father, Alex De Benedetti, is an actor and producer. Her grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis, was a famous film producer and her grandmother, Silvana Mangano, was a popular Italian movie star.
At the age of 7, De Laurentiis moved to the United States. She and her family soon settled in Los Angeles. De Laurentiis did not receive the warmest of welcomes in her new country. She "didn't speak a word of English, so the kids at school tormented me," she later explained. "It was horrifying the names they called me, and the teachers never really did a thing to stop it."
De Laurentiis found comfort in her family, and their shared passion for food. Her great-grandfather sold pasta in Italy, and nearly every Sunday her family gathered at her grandfather's house for lunch. There, De Laurentiis helped prepare the meal, sometimes handling the dessert course for the gathering. She also often visited her grandfather's restaurant, DDL Foodshow.
In 1996, De Laurentiis graduated from UCLA with a degree in anthropology. But she eventually decided to follow her heart back to the kitchen. Moving to Paris, De Laurentiis studied at Le Cordon Bleu, the famed cooking school. She then returned to Los Angeles, where she worked for two prestigious restaurants: the Ritz Carlton Fine Dining Room and Wolfgang Puck's Spago.
De Laurentiis branched out on her own, starting a catering company called GDL Foods. She landed some famous clients, including director Ron Howard, and developed a thriving business. On the side, De Laurentiis also worked as a food stylist.
A friend at Food & Wine magazine asked her to write about her family's Sunday meal traditions. The article proved to be a launching pad for a new career. An executive with the Food Network saw De Laurentiis's piece, and she soon developed her own series for the channel.
Television and Books
Making her debut in 2003, De Laurentiis hosted Everyday Italian, a half-hour cooking show. The naturally shy chef has admitted that it took some time for her to get comfortable in front of the cameras. Petite, warm and friendly, De Laurentiis soon became a fan favorite on the Food Network. The 2005 companion cookbook for the series became a hit as well.
De Laurentiis landed on the best-sellers list with 2006's Giada's Family Dinners and 2007's Everyday Pasta: Favorite Pasta Recipes for Every Occasion. Also in 2007, she debuted a new food-and-travel themed show, Giada's Weekend Getaways, on the Food Network, which ran for several years.
Branching out, De Laurentiis has served as a mentor and judge on the television competition, Next Food Network Star, with Bobby Flay. She also became a correspondent for the Today show during the 2006 Olympics. Since then, De Laurentiis has been a regular contributor and co-host on the show.
In 2010, De Laurentiis launched a new cooking series called Giada at Home, along with a cookbook by the same title. Both the program and the cookbook have enjoyed enormous success. That same year, De Laurentiis partnered with Target stores to sell her own line of food items and kitchen tools.
De Laurentiis married Todd Thompson, a designer for Anthropologie, in 2003. They had been dating since De Laurentiis was 19 years old. In 2008, the couple welcomed a daughter, Jade. In December 2014, the couple called it quits. The chef announced their divorce on her Facebook page: "After an amicable separation since July, Todd and I have decided to end our marriage. Although our decision to separate comes with a great deal of sadness, our focus on the future and overwhelming desire for our family's happiness has given us the strength to move forward on separate, yet always connected paths. Todd and I share a beautiful daughter and a lifetime of great memories that we both treasure more than anything. We are so thankful for our friends and family, and really appreciate the support in this time of change."
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