Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis is having her moment in the sun after being tapped to cook for a charity polo match that the royal couple will attend on July 9. She tells us about some last-minute changes to the menu and how she feels this opportunity will be the "jackpot" of her career. She also talks about signing a fan's salami -- and how her relationship with her husband Todd holds up against all the attention she gets for being a hottie chef.
What's for lunch with the royal couple?
We made some final tweaks. We dumped the (chicken Milanese) main course and swapped in the corn lasagna. The lasagna was actually the vegetarian option, but we decided to make it the main overall. I won’t be the only one cooking for so many people, so we have a catering company to help. They’ll be using my recipes, and ultimately, I want to put out the best food possible. After a couple trials, they still weren’t able to master the chicken recipe, but they did the lasagna very well, so that, along with several appetizers, is what we’ll be serving.
How do you feel cooking for the royals will impact your career?
This is like hitting the jackpot. It elevates my catering abilities, and basically, I’m on a different playing field now. As I’ve said before, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for a California girl like me. You know, I don’t live in New York City, I don’t travel to London that often. I really feel like I got lucky … my number just happened to come up. I don’t know how it will change my career, but I’m sure it will tweak it somehow. Maybe more people will be able to pronounce my name correctly (laughs). Even If that’s the only thing that comes out of it, I’ll be really happy.
Have you ever had a fan do anything over the top?
There have been a couple of instances when I’ve been coming out of the bathroom and a fan is right outside of the stall. I mean RIGHT outside the door as I open it. It’s very uncomfortable, you know … and I’m like, could you please give me space in the bathroom or at least let me wash my hands first?
I remember being in Seattle at Sur La Table when my career was first starting. There were all these college kids in there and I was really impressed that they were interested in cooking. This guy, who was probably 19 or 20, bought a fat, short salami, and, straight-faced, came up to me and said “Giada, will you sign my salami?”
Did you sign it?
I signed his salami. I certainly did.
You are a sex symbol in the food world, and there are even websites dedicated to your various physical assets. How do you handle that?
Oh, wow, I didn’t know that. I don’t read those things – I refuse. Todd sometimes does, though. I think when you look at yourself in the mirror every day, you don’t see yourself that way. I don’t care who you are – everyone has their insecurities and I’m no exception. When I do hear about it, I think, “They just don’t know me.” I really don’t think I’m a sex symbol. I mean, when you remember growing up, remember being sick and throwing up, there’s no way you can think of yourself as sexy.
So Todd reads some of this stuff. How does he handle the attention you get?
He has good and his bad days. Most of the time he can laugh at it and brush it off, but sometimes he does get uncomfortable. We’ve been together for 20 years … we met when we were 19, and we’ve travelled this long path together. I always say that if I wasn’t with Todd, I’d be alone, because most men can’t handle it. He’s just such a good guy and it takes a certain type of man who doesn’t feel overshadowed by his woman. Sometimes, he does say, “I want you back the way you used to be,” but there’s no going back, so we just work through it together.
Are you an adventurous eater? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?
I became adventurous by force. I think the craziest thing I’ve eaten was fried ants in Sicily. It was a dare from my very adventurous aunt. But actually, I have to say, it wasn’t that bad. If you deep fry it, anything is good.
Want to eat like the royals? Cook from Giada's polo match menu and get the recipes here.
TODAY contributor Giada De Laurentiis shows Matt Lauer, Ann Curry and Al Roker three of the delicious dishes she plans to cook up for Prince William and Kate when they visit the United States for the first time in July.
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