The Food Network is renowned for putting chefs in front of the camera that divide audience opinion. And they don’t come much more polarizing than Giada De Laurentiis. Yes, the Italian-American sure has plenty of fans. She’s an Emmy-winning best-selling author, after all. But the star appears to have made plenty of enemies during her rise to fame.
So why exactly has De Laurentiis got on the wrong side of so many people? Well, her apparent habit of spitting out food out of shot isn’t exactly endearing. That’s right, according to the New York Post, the chef uses a “dump bucket” while filming. This ensures she doesn’t actually have to swallow the culinary delights she’s lovingly prepared.
And the same newspaper reports that’s not the only form of deception on De Laurentiis’ cooking shows. The Giada at Home star will supposedly sometimes use a stunt double when it comes to filming close-up scenes of her taking a bite. Yes, if the cameras fixate on a mouth or some teeth, chances are they belong to her assistant.
Stephen Huvane, a rep for De Laurentiis, explained how these allegations came about in a chat with the New York Post. He said, “Giada tapes sometimes three episodes in one day, and they do multiple takes on a close-up of her eating. She doesn’t always eat and swallow every time, since they can do sometimes six to 10 takes with three episodes a day, and that would be like eating six to eight meals a day.”
Yet Huvane also insisted that De Laurentiis wasn’t deceiving her audience. He continued, “The bottom line is, she most certainly does eat the food she prepares on the show. But [she] does not always consume the whole dish, as that would be too much for most people to eat in one day.”
Paula Deen’s loyal fan base certainly has a bone to pick with De Laurentiis, too. In 2013 the Food Network decided to schedule the Italian-American’s shows as a replacement for the disgraced Deen’s. The veteran cook was dropped by the channel over allegations of racism and discrimination in the workplace.
Deen’s supporters believed that instead of benefiting from their favorite chef’s downfall, De Laurentiis should have stood up for her fellow Food Network colleague. The Italian-American didn’t comment at all about the Deen scandal. But she did tell Access Hollywood that the programming change had nothing to do with her.
De Laurentiis has also come under some scrutiny for the way she pronounces certain Italian foods. The star is renowned for over-enunciating words such as “pancetta” and “spaghetti.” To be fair to the chef, she probably has more authority on the subject than most. De Laurentiis was born in Rome and lived there until the age of eight.
In a 2017 chat with the New York Daily News De Laurentiis risked incurring the wrath of some of her most ardent fans — although we can’t exactly blame her for speaking out. Discussing the Caesars Palace’s Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting Event she was appearing at, the chef said, “It’s the only place that people expect to see me and sort of be able to touch my brand. I wish I could say no touchy-touchy, but it doesn’t work that way.”
De Laurentiis then wondered aloud whether she would draw the same inappropriate response if she was a man. The star continued, “Since I am a female chef they are a little less intimidated to come up to me. And secondly they just want to thank you for what we do.”
So how exactly did De Laurentiis become such a culinary sensation in the first place? Well, she certainly has a pretty impressive pedigree. The daughter of actress Veronica De Laurentiis, Giada is the grand daughter of legendary film producer Dino De Laurentiis. She trained at the prestigious Paris school Le Cordon Bleu. On her return to America, she landed jobs at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and the Ritz Carlton Fine Dining Room.
De Laurentiis then decided that she wanted to be her own boss. The star took on various food styling jobs and even set up her own GLD Foods catering company. Ron Howard, the director of Hollywood box office hits Splash and Apollo 13, was one of her earliest celebrity customers.
As word got out about De Laurentiis’ talents in the kitchen, the chef was invited to write a piece for Food and Wine magazine. Her article on the traditional Sunday meals she enjoyed with her family caught the attention of a Food Network executive. De Laurentiis was subsequently given her own half-hour show.
It took a while, though, for De Laurentiis to get on board. In 2018 she told the Eater podcast, “Because I come from a movie family, I was like, ‘What is Food Network?’ First of all, Food Network wasn’t what it is today… And so I was like, ‘No, this has gotta be a prank, I’m not doing this, this is ridiculous, I’m not doing this.’… in the end, I got comfortable, and it worked.”
Everyday Italian became an instant hit with viewers when it debuted on the channel in 2003. De Laurentiis’ sunny screen presence also inspired viewers to snap up the show’s accompanying cookbook two years later. The Daytime Emmy winner would go on to enjoy further best-selling success with the likes of Everyday Pasta and Giada’s Family Dinners.
Fans wanting even more De Laurentiis got their wish in 2007 when she hosted culinary travelogue Giada’s Weekend Getaways. The chef also took a seat on the judging panel of cooking contest Next Food Network Star. But the TV personality had ambitions to prove that she could make it outside the kitchen, too.
After becoming a correspondent for the Winter Olympics in 2006, De Laurentiis regularly popped up as a co-host on NBC’s Today. At the end of the decade, the star added entrepreneur to her list of talents. In conjunction with Target, De Laurentiis launched her own brand of cookware and foodstuffs.
By this point De Laurentiis had become so successful that she was invited to cook for actual royalty. That’s right, in 2011 the Food Network star dished out food for none other than Prince William and Kate Middleton at a charity polo event in California. De Laurentiis would later tell the website PopSugar that this honor was one of her career highlights.
You don’t need to be royalty to sample De Laurentiis’ cooking, though. In 2014 the celebrity chef opened up her own restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip simply named Giada. This was quite the feat, too. No other woman had ever become a restaurateur on the famous strip before. Just four years later, De Laurentiis launched another eatery on The Strip, Pronto by Giada.
As you might expect, De Laurentiis’ various enterprises have made her a very rich woman. Celebrity Net Worth states that the chef is worth a whopping $30 million. And that’s even after she gave her former husband Todd Thompson the $3 million mansion they shared with daughter Jade in Los Angeles.
But during her path to multi-million dollar success, De Laurentiis has made a fair few showbiz enemies. Yes, the Italian-American has rubbed everyone from fellow celebrity chefs to Oscar-winning actresses the wrong way over the years. And one of the most notable examples actually occurred on a Food Network show.
It turns out that De Laurentiis has quite the competitive streak. In fact, she was once so enraged by her defeat on Iron Chef America that she didn’t speak to her cooking partner Bobby Flay for the best part of an entire year! De Laurentiis revealed all in an interview with the Beyond the Plate podcast in 2018.
Flay and De Laurentiis lost out to Mario Batali and Rachael Ray on the Food Network hit in 2006. But their post-show reactions were very different, as the Italian-American told host Andrew Kaplan. She explained, “We lost and he thought it was funny. He didn’t think it was any big deal that we lost. I did not talk to him for eight months‚ eight months! I did not. Nothing. Silence.”
De Laurentiis went on, “I thought, you know, I took this very seriously. It was a very big show, especially at that time, and I’ve cooked, I’ve gone to culinary school, I worked on my own dish all by myself and I felt like he sort of half-assed it. It was just TV [to him]. I took it very seriously. I think Rachael took it very seriously, and I was really disappointed.”
Flay didn’t help matters with his lack of an apology, either. De Laurentiis said, “He didn’t say, ‘Hey I’m sorry that we lost,’ or ‘Hey, you know we’ll do it again.’ Nothing. He just, like, walked away and I thought, ‘you’re a jerk and I’m never — I never want to be around you again.’ Now of course we’re best buddies and we hang out but…”
Of course, after patching things up, De Laurentiis was accused of getting a little too close to Flay. It’s a rumor she’s always strenuously denied. But in 2015 the chef revealed that she was very much dating another colleague, TV producer Shane Farley. And news of their relationship didn’t go down well with everyone.
Farley’s ex-wife Jennifer Giamo probably didn’t appreciate hearing of this development. She’d only split up with the producer eight months previously. But according to Page Six, Giamo found a shoulder to cry on in the shape of Stephanie March, who was once married to another man linked to De Laurentiis. That’s right, the one and only Mr. Flay.
An insider allegedly told the same site that things were about to get ugly following a particularly catty catch-up. They said, “Jen was with Stephanie March having high tea at the Gotham Bar at the Peninsula. They were having a royal bitchfest, and there was lots of advice and tears happening. [They were discussing] Giada having to be brought into court because [she and Shane] were having an affair.”
De Laurentiis’ wholesome image had first taken a bit of a knock in 2010 when MTV reported rumors of an affair with Lothario musician John Mayer. The chef was married to fashion designer Todd Thompson at the time. But even after their divorce several years later she continued to deny the accusations, telling Gossip Cop that they were entirely fabricated.
Speaking to Redbook magazine in 2011, De Laurentiis revealed this rumor had left her blindsided. She said, “The John Mayer incident was completely unexpected. I was shocked. And not so much for me, but for my husband and family… What made it all even more surprising is that I haven’t had any contact with John Mayer in three years. You know how you’ll briefly get introduced to somebody? Maybe we chatted for five minutes, but I wouldn’t consider that intimate.”
In 2015 Star magazine also hinted that De Laurentiis had got up, close and personal with both an occasional Today co-star and a fellow Food Network chef. Again, she refuted such claims. “My long-time friendships with my co-workers Matt Lauer and Bobby Flay are exactly that — long-time friendships,” De Laurentiis told Gossip Cop.
Now, we’re not exactly sure why Rosie O’Donnell has a beef with De Laurentiis, if she does at all. According to Radar Online, though, the star once banned the chef from a party she organized at a hotel in Manhattan. O’Donnell had invited De Laurentiis’ other half Shane Farley as she worked with him on her chat show. But Rosie allegedly didn’t allow him to bring a plus-one.
Despite this apparent snub, De Laurentiis was reportedly still hellbent on showing up anyway. An insider allegedly told Radar Online, “This is a huge mistake. It’s Rosie’s party and she will kick her out. She isn’t welcome. She is not invited and has never worked on her show. Just because she’s a famous chef doesn’t mean that she is welcome!” That was De Laurentiis told!
But one star that De Laurentiis doesn’t have a beef with is Rachael Ray. Speculation of a feud between the two Food Network chefs began after the latter defeated the former on Iron Chef America. De Laurentiis had previously popped up on Ray’s eponymous daytime show on six occasions. Yet following their cook-off in 2006, the Italian-American didn’t show up for seven years!
Even so, in 2009 Ray was keen to put all the rumors about her rivalry with De Laurentiis to bed. She told Redbook, “Do we hang out all the time? No. Are we best friends? No. We do these festivals together, and she’ll say to me, ‘Oh, we’d better take a picture together and smile, because if we don’t, God only knows what’s going to get written about us.’ She’s a lovely person.”
But De Laurentiis’ most famous fallout began on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017. The chef appeared on the daytime hit to teach the host and fellow guest Nicole Kidman the perfect arancini ball recipe. It was a segment that redefined the word awkward. Firstly, De Laurentiis asked both parties, “Have you made any kind of balls before.” This innuendo didn’t go down particularly well with the Big Little Lies star.
Things got even more uncomfortable when De Laurentiis gave her verdict on DeGeneres and Kidman’s efforts. After comparing the host’s Italian rice ball to dog food, the chef offered a sarcastic remark while judging the Australian actress’ attempts. She said, “Oh my God, the woman who can’t cook made the perfect ball!”
DeGeneres and Kidman got their own back when they both sampled a slice of focaccia pizza De Laurentiis had pre-cooked. The host ensured she’d never be invited round for dinner by wincing as she took a bite. “Why do I even do a cooking segment?” De Laurentiis joked. “I don’t even know why I bother.”
Kidman was even more scathing in her review, describing the focaccia as a “little tough” before spitting her piece out entirely. De Laurentiis tried to laugh the situation off, telling the Academy Award winner, “Nicole, it’s been sitting there for like five hours! I hate doing these things for that reason.”
De Laurentiis acknowledged how awkward things were when she returned to The Ellen DeGeneres Show the following year. During another cooking segment, the chef remarked, “Now this is to redeem myself from Nicole Kidman.” De Laurentiis also jokingly asked, “She’s not here, right? I know you surprise people with people coming out of things.” Luckily for the Food Network star, Kidman was nowhere to be seen.