Renowned cookbook author and Food Network star, Giada De Laurentiis, whose expertise in Italian cuisine has made her into a superstar in the cooking world. Best known for her television show, Everyday Italian, and for regular appearances on the Today show, Giada continues to build a household name for herself as a celebrity spokeswoman for various brands, and has even launched her own cookware and kitchen supplies that are directly sold at Target.
In an exclusive interview with TheCelebrityCafe.com, the talented chef talks about holiday entertaining, her recent partnering with Clairol, and the importance of empowering women that lead busy lives, but still want to look and feel sexy.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: What advice would you give for holiday entertaining/hosting?
Giada: When it comes to holiday entertaining and hosting, the number one thing you want to do is make sure you are well prepared and relaxed. The last thing guests want to see is a frantic hostess. It makes them a little bit uncomfortable. Secondly, try to see if you could have other guests bring food or drinks, kind of like a potluck. Or you can mix and match by making one or two items and then buying something already prepared, just decorate it on a beautiful platter.
TCC: You also stress the importance of healthy indulgences during the holidays. What would you define as a healthy indulgence?
Giada: It is something that is guilt-free. It’s good to be healthy, but in order to maintain that you have to, in my opinion, indulge once in awhile. Otherwise it can get kind of boring. So a healthy balance would be using healthy ingredients both in your food and the way you take care of yourself.
TCC: But what if a person is on a diet? How can they avoid feeling deprived at a Christmas party?
Giada: It’s best to not go to a party starving because when you get there you’ll want to feel like eating everything in sight. It’s good to have a little snack or eat something at home first. Then at the party you could taste a little bit of everything if you want and not feel deprived. Usually hosts don’t serve more than three or four dishes at a holiday party.
When it comes to drinks, you could have a glass of champagne, which is the lowest calorie alcoholic drink to have. Or, if you don’t feel like drinking, have a sparkling water with some lime and lemon to make it festive.
TCC: What are your most favorite holiday dishes you make for guests?
Giada: Dessert-wise I love making my almond cornmeal cake. It’s a dessert you can make ahead of time and is baked in a bundt cake pan. I top the cake off with sweet syrup made out of pomegranate juice that’s reduced down until it has a thick, jelly-like consistency. The ruby colored pomegranate syrup gives the golden colored almond cornmeal cake a beautiful look that fits well with the holiday season.
For savory items, I usually offer three different things. One is my red pepper hummus in a cucumber cup, which I make two days in advance and then put it together before the party. Second, I make mini smoked salmon pizzas. It’s another dish I make ahead of time and then assemble together before guests arrive. And lastly, I make beef skewers served with a tomato relish. All these dishes are fun, tasty, and festive.
TCC: Does your little girl ever help you out when you’re cooking?
Giada: Well, Jade is almost five and she loves being in the kitchen with me. I’m hoping that she will still feel the same way about cooking later on in life. But you never know, either she’ll love to cook or will absolutely hate it. But for now she adores being in the kitchen, not just for the time we spend playing and laughing, but the fact that she gets to taste everything, especially when it comes to desserts. That is the most joy she gets.
TCC: Since you are a spokesperson for Clairol, in what way has their hair care products become part of your beauty routine?
Giada: I’m extremely honored to be working with Clairol’s Natural Instincts because no one in my field has ever been given this opportunity. Also, I’m a busy mom and I work a lot. Being on television I have to look my best. What Natural Instincts has personally given me is the ability to color my hair within 10 minutes while I’m tending to work-related matters or when I’m taking care of my daughter. What I also love about Natural Instincts is that it is ammonia-free and contains ingredients that leave my hair soft and shiny. I feel this partnership with Clairol has really given me some tools of empowerment as well. I hope it can help a lot of other women as well feel good about themselves.
TCC: Are there any types of food you eat that are part of your beauty regimen?
Giada: I always use olive oil when cooking because it’s good for your body, skin, and hair. I also eat avocados whenever I can. It’s amazing for your skin and contains lots of nutrients. Another food item I eat most often are almonds. They contain good fat that’s great for your hair and skin. It’s important to eat healthy, organic food you like and that makes you feel good.
TCC: By any chance is there a particular show on Food Network you like watching?
Giada: Other than my show? (Laughs) I’m just kidding! Yes, I do like watching Barefoot Contessa. Ina [Garten] and I are good friends. I always say to her that I hope to be like her when I’m her age. Of course, our age differences are not that far apart. But she is such a wonderful human being, truly, in every sense of the word. She is so giving and loving. Those qualities are well presented on Barefoot Contessa and that’s why I really do enjoy watching her show.
Giada is debuting her new shade - Clairol Natural Instincts in Navajo Bronze. To see what shade is right for you go to the Clairol website.