The Fabulous Food Show is coming this November. We sat down with one of the stars you’ll be able to see in person at the show, Giada De Laurentiis, to talk about her life as a famous Food Network personality and what it’s like to host “Everyday Italian” and “Giada’s Weekend Getaways.”
Feast!: How did you end up with a career in food and on TV?
Giada De Laurentiis: Italians love to interact, especially in the kitchen, and my family was no exception. When I was about 12, my grandfather opened a restaurant and food store in New York and Los Angeles called DDL Foodshow. He imported tons of Italian products, as well as chefs from Naples who would make pizzas in the back kitchen. I’d spend all day in the L.A. store and watch these chefs who I considered rock stars. This is when I knew for sure that I wanted to do something with food.
I always refer to my entrée into television as a combination of love, family and luck. I was working for Food and Wine magazine as a food stylist, and the magazine presented me with an opportunity for an article in their February 2002 issue in which I would organize a family dinner in honor of my grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis. It was from that article that I became lucky, because upon reading it, the Food Network invited me to shoot a pilot for them, featuring me and my recipes for everyday Italian cooking.
F!: Viewers know you as the person they see on your shows. When do you feel most at home?
GDL: Because I’m not an actor playing a role I’m really who you see on television, doing what I love to do, which is cook, eat, travel and enjoy my family and friends. So it’s difficult to say that I’m not at home doing the shows. “Giada” isn’t a character. I’m not scripted. I get to be who I am, which is very evident in “Giada’s Weekend Getaways.”
F!: Tell us a little about your kitchen studio.
GDL: “Everyday Italian” is filmed in Los Angeles in a rented home. It’s the same house we’ve used for the past five or so seasons. The homeowners move out, and our production crew moves in for the duration of the season, which lasts about two months. We use their garage as our prep kitchen, and I use their actual kitchen as my set.
F!: What might surprise even the most die-hard viewers?
GDL: That as much as I love food, I also love fashion — clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. — from fabulous designers. But, believe it or not, my most favorite wardrobe item is a pair of black Rocket Dog flip-flops. I’d wear them in a snowstorm.
F!: What is the most challenging part of being “Giada?”
GDL: I’ve forfeited my anonymity in a way so even when those very normal human moments occur when I’m at the grocery store and not feeling great, or I’m tired, I feel like I have to snap out of it because someone might be watching and judging me.
F!: And what do you find most rewarding?
GDL: I’ve been afforded a lifestyle in which I can do what I love, all the time. I wouldn’t trade this for anything.
See Giada De Laurentiis at the Fabulous Food Show November 9 to 11 at the I-X Center. Call (216) 265-COOK or log on to www.fabulousfoodshow.com
for tickets and information. View Giada's WEB ONLY recipes!
- Giada’s Crab and Ricotta Manicotti
- Giada’s Neopolitan Calamari and Shrimp Salad
- Giada’s Roman-Style Fettuccine with Chicken
A fall harvest fruit with a thick rind and yellow-pink flesh. It’s a distant relative of the grapefruit but sweeter, firmer and less juicy. Find them as large as watermelons or smaller than cantaloupes. They’re great tossed into fruit, vegetable and seafood salads. In China, they’re traditionally enjoyed as a candied treat. Pummelos are available at www.melissas.com
and at Whole Foods. View the WEB ONLY recipe.
Gastronomy + Public House = Gastropub
A gastropub sounds like some sort of intestinal malady — about as appetizing as the stomach flu. But to those in the know it’s where you can belly up for a beer — and fois gras. The concept of upscale food in a bar setting originated in England and surfaced in New York a few years ago. You couldn’t find anything quite like it around here until Ballantine opened in Willoughby this summer. The casual, tavern-style atmosphere is a departure from typically stuffy venues that serve the same caliber eats.
“It is basically a great restaurant disguised as a bar,” says Manny Nieves, Ballantine’s general manager and resident beverage guy. But you won’t be limited to the familiar labels of drink here. There’s an extensive international draft and bottle selection, including 10 beers made by Belgian Trappist monks, plus a sophisticated, reasonably priced wine list featuring vintages from the U.S. and Latin America. And when it comes time to order, think lobster club sandwich with a side of house-made blue-cheese tater tots. 4113 Erie St., Willoughby; www.theballantine.netView the WEB ONLY recipe and the second!
There are fans, and then there are Browns tailgaters such as Ed Rocheck. Fall Sundays he can be found in a Flats parking lot by 8:30 a.m., cooking super-size portions for a crowd of regulars, 30 to 60 strong. Simplicity is the key to success and he’s spent the past 20 years perfecting his game plan.
He and his “sous chef,” Don Spoerke, have a strategy. Rocheck hits the grocery store Saturday morning armed with a page-long list. It’s like shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, week after week. Menu fare depends on how much the group collected in a donation can at the previous game. It might be burgers and dogs, London broil marinated overnight in an off-the-shelf teriyaki sauce, or something more elaborate, such as shish-kabobs — 40 pounds of meat and enough vegetables to fill 100 skewers.
To assemble them, Rocheck sets up a factory in his kitchen. “I have a skewer party,” he says. “That’s a long project.” Cramped countertops are converted into makeshift food stations for piles of pre-cut steaks, green peppers, mushrooms and onions. Rocheck works “the line,” packing as much sustenance on every skewer as possible. The rave reviews are worth all the work, he says.
Rocheck usually burns through a 20-pound bag of charcoal firing up his custom grill, a 3-foot-long rectangle his uncle, a welder, made specifically for tailgating. He transports it, along with all his other picnic gear, in his van (he removes the backseats during football season). The party goes on rain or shine — or snow.
“Of course, the ‘fun’ part that everyone doesn’t get to see is after the game when I get home and I have to unload the van and wash all those dishes,” he says. “But that’s part of the gig.”
Take a headcount. The Browns Board, an Internet forum, helps Rocheck anticipate weekly attendance.
Find the sale. Donations dictate the menu, so Rocheck shops grocery store sales and hits discount stores for condiments and paper supplies.
Keep it simple. Basic fare pleases the fans. Prepackaged marinades and seasoning blends minimize prep time.
Start on Saturday. Rocheck shops and preps the day before the game.