Giada de Laurentiis, Food Network star and celebrity chef of worldwide renown, is packing some serious heat this summer. Her co-hosting gig on Food Network Star is already winning rave reviews, and Giada at Home continues to do well and reinforce her brand. Now, Giada is ready to debut a brand-new show, one that will explore her culinary roots as well as her personal ones. In order to do that, she’ll have to trace those roots back to their source.
Giada in Italy will premiere at 11 AM EST on July 19th–a Sunday morning, for those of you keeping score at home–the same day that the current season of Food Network Star will air one of its final episodes. Giada in Italy‘s premise, according to Food Network, is simple: Giada de Laurentiis goes back to Italy to take up summer residence in a house near Sorrento. While there, she’ll cook a great many wonderful-looking dishes under an assortment of charming pretenses, and visit nearby locales relevant to her and her family history. (Giada herself was born in Rome.)
In the first episode, Giada will head to “a local market for fresh ingredients to make dishes like grilled treviso, pan-seared branzino, and fresh citrus with gelato and almond cookies.” In later episodes, she’ll make a pilgrimage to a pasta factory formerly owned by her grandfather, Oscar-winning Hollywood producer Dino de Laurentiis; prepare a California-style dinner for a visiting soccer team; and generate meals based on recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook.
Bob Tuschman, general manager of Food Network and a senior vice president with the network, had the following praise for Giada in a press release:
We are excited for viewers to see Italy through Giada’s eyes. With her family’s deep roots in the region, there is no one better than Giada to explore the traditions, secrets, and delights of Italian food and culture.
Meanwhile, things are coming together nicely at Giada’s first-ever restaurant–the aptly-named GIADA, which opened last summer on the Las Vegas strip. It’s been a full year, and reviews from critics and customers are almost uniformly positive. The restaurant was recently subject to a glowing feature in Las Vegas Weekly, which presented the following summary:
For most of the past year, it was the toughest table in the city, packed for dinner every night. The space is vast, warm and relaxing; giant windows and awe-inspiring views of the Bellagio’s fountains don’t hurt. The food is delicious and even indulgent if you want it to be, yet light and delicate. It’s unlike any other Italian restaurant in the city, and that makes sense because Giada is unlike any other chef in Las Vegas.
In the piece, Giada herself acknowledged the trepidation she felt upon embarking upon the project that would become her first restaurant–this, despite having almost two decades of experience as both a professional chef and a highly visible Food Network celebrity.
“This is a place where some of the best chefs in the world—not in the U.S., in the world—have restaurants,” she said, speaking of Las Vegas. “And I don’t have a track record. I know my food works for cookbooks, but how do I know it will work in a restaurant at this caliber, with more than 200 seats, in a hotel with 188 rooms? I was panicked I would never fill this place.”
Nor was that her only fear. In a just-published interview with Haute Living, Giada opened up about some of the difficulties she’s faced as a female chef in a field still dominated by men:
This business is a boys’ club. It just is. You need to know how to play your cards, [but] they never really let you in. They’ll let you in a little bit, but I don’t know if they’ll ever really let us in completely. That’s not to say that we can’t team up with them, and that we can’t do our own thing as well. I’ve never had a restaurant before; this was a whole new experience. I felt like I could take a backseat to the boys because I still have a lot to learn—it’s a huge undertaking….[Women] just have to work harder to prove we’re just as good. So far, so good. I’ve only been here a year—let’s see where I am in ten years. For the first year, I feel like we’ve gone way above expectations.
As for the next level of expectations, Giada says she’s considering plans to expland the restaurant, and can’t imagine opening another one anywhere else in the world.
(Photo credits: Giada de Laurentiis via Facebook)