Take Eight with Giada De Laurentiis

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

You may best know culinary superstar Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network, but the businesswoman and mom of 8-year-old Jade can also be found in the children’s section of your local bookstore. The Emmy winner recently released the eighth book  in her series for middle-grade readers, Recipe for Adventure. The series features siblings Alfie and Emilia Bertolizzi, their  mysterious Zia Donatella, a new city/culture/cuisine in each edition, and two laminated recipe cards to get families cooking. De Laurentiis took a break from her whirlwind career to talk about the latest book, Recipe for Adventure: Philadelphia!

You’re a chef, restaurant owner, TV personality, voice  actor, businesswoman, and mom. What made you decide  to add “children’s author” to the list?

When Jade was born, I realized that there weren’t many kids’ books about different cultures, families, and food all wrapped up into one story. I travel a lot and come from a different country with different food and traditions, so I wanted to write a series based on that. 

Does your daughter influence how you write Alfie or Emilia?

She does, but really and truly that comes from my relationship with my brother who passed away 10 years ago. We were  really close and loved to cook and travel together, and that inspired the relationship between Alfie and Emilia.

How did you create Zia Donatella? Was there any personal inspiration in your family behind the character? 

Zia Donatella is inspired by my Aunt Raffy…and for those of you who watch my cooking show, you know how playful our relationship is. She doesn’t have kids, but travels a lot, so growing up she would always come back with different recipes and we would try them together in the kitchen. 

What has surprised you most about  the Recipe for Adventure series?

I think what surprised me the most is how much joy kids get out of reading it. Also seeing Jade read the series as she gets better at reading is really special. It’s our go-to book to read together, and that’s pretty exciting.  

With her family’s recipe for pizzelles, 10-year-old Emma DeFazio of Pennsylvania won the contest to make Philadelphia the setting for this book. What was it like choosing a winner, and what’s the key to making a good pizzelle?

I wanted to choose a winner who had a really authentic story and who loved cooking and his/her heritage. The key to making a good pizzelle? Almond oil instead of almond extract! 

Moms everywhere struggle to balance career and family. What’s your best 

piece of advice on how to do it?

Lots of breathing and take everything one day at a time. It’s OK to ask for help!

What’s a good way to introduce kids to cooking?

Allow them to look at cookbooks and pick recipes out by the pictures. What I love about Recipe For Adventure is that as you read, you can cook along with the characters and it makes you feel like you’re there and part of the action. 

Does your daughter enjoy cooking? What are your favorite dishes to make together?

Yes! She likes just about everything, but pasta and desserts are her favorite.