Giada De Laurentiis is a celebrity in her own right, and she feels she owes it in large part to her ancestors in the entertainment world.
The Food Network and Cooking Channel personality is the granddaughter of the late film producer Dino De Laurentiis, whom she says “made something like over 600 movies in 60 years” including “Serpico,” “Death Wish” and the Jessica Lange-introducing 1976 remake of “King Kong.” And actress Silvana Mangano, who starred in such epics as “Ulysses” and “Barabbas,” was her maternal grandmother.
“Honestly, when the show ‘Everyday Italian’ started, I wanted to shoot it like Grandfather shot movies,” De Laurentiis explains to Zap2it, “and really tell a story from beginning to end. The cinematography, the lighting and everything else in that show really set me up for what I have today, and I don’t think I would have had that knowledge had I not come from the family I come from.
“I think that’s what sets me apart in a way,” De Laurentiis notes of being one of many television-friendly chefs, “and that’s the interesting thing. My career started so differently than everybody else’s. I come from a totally different background, and I ran from doing anything in the movie industry.
“I wanted to do something in the food business, and somehow it came full circle and here I am. Sometimes, what you’re meant to do is what you’re meant to do.”
Among her grandfather’s productions she enjoys most, De Laurentiis cites “Conan the Barbarian,” “King Kong,” the 1980 version of “Flash Gordon” — “one of my absolute favorites as a child” — and “Orca.” And, she adds, “I remember going on the set and watching my grandmother work in ‘Dune’ with Sting. And she did a movie with Clint Eastwood called ‘Le Streghe’ (known in America as ‘The Witches’) that’s also awesome.”
Soon to tape a fresh round of her Food Network series “Giada at Home,” De Laurentiis also has a new session of another show on tap: Season 8 of “Food Network Star” launches Sunday, May 13, with a big format change. She, Bobby Flay and Alton Brown all will coach teams of aspiring chefs, with the winner getting his or her own show produced by the respective mentor.
Also on a book tour now for “Weeknights With Giada,” her latest recipe collection that recently spent two weeks at the top of the New York Times best-seller list, De Laurentiis says “it’s so exciting” to have another print success. “I worked so hard on it, there just isn’t a better feeling. It’s like having a child graduate from an amazing school … you just feel very proud.”