The Transformation Of Giada De Laurentiis From Toddler To 50 Years Old

If you're an avid foodie, chances are that you already know Giada De Laurentiis is a longtime Food Network star that specializes in Italian cuisine. Through some of her creations such as pasta and pizza, viewers have come to learn a lot about De Laurentiis' upbringing and her love for her culture. As if that wasn't already impressive, she has embarked on many endeavors that rightfully make her a tastemaker in the culinary industry.

What makes De Laurentiis special is her journey to being one of the most popular celebrity chefs. She didn't grow up into television royalty, nor did she get her start in an American kitchen. However, she's carved a path for herself in the industry with the values she's taken from her childhood home: food, family, and cooking with love. If you're wondering how a young European girl became a household name in culinary arts by age 50, read on to see the transformation of Giada De Laurentiis throughout the years.

Giada de Laurentiis was born into a high-profile family

On August 22, 1970, Giada De Laurentiis was born in Rome, Italy. Although she doesn't come from food television royalty, the celebrity chef was born into a high-profile family. In fact, her grandfather is the late, famed Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis, who produced over 100 films in his career. Per Biography, her parents were actor Veronica De Laurentiis and actor-producer Alex De Benedetti.

De Laurentiis' early accounts of growing up in Italy are filled with family, food, and fun. Despite being part of a famous film family, De Laurentiis didn't find the glitz and glamour of movie stardom appealing. She recalled to Food & Wine in 2016, "I wasn't looking to get into TV. My family was in the movie business, so I was never interested in that world." 

Although De Laurentiis had her mind set from an early age what her future would look like, it's safe to say television fame was definitely not in her initial plans.

Giada De Laurentiis' passion for cooking started early

Giada De Laurentiis moved to the United States at the age of 7. It's never easy for the new kid in school, and De Laurentiis could absolutely relate. During an interview with Redbook, she recalls being bullied by her classmates. "I came here from Italy in the '70s and didn't speak a word of English, so the kids at school tormented me," she said. "Truly, it was horrifying the names they called me, and the teachers never really did a thing to stop it."

Fortunately, she found solace in her secret weapon: cooking. De Laurentiis' love for cooking and eating comes from her grandfather, whose parents owned a pasta factory in Naples, Italy. "After he became a movie producer, he opened up De Laurentiis Food Stores — one in Los Angeles and one in New York," the star told Time magazine. "I was 12, and I would go there after school."

Although the store was only open for two years, De Laurentiis' memories left a major impact on her. Additionally, she used her cooking skills to get to know her peers in school. "It helped me build my ego and even start to get acceptance at school," she confessed to Redbook. "I'd bring things to class that I'd cooked at home, and my classmates were like, 'Wow. This is amazing, and that girl with the funny name cooked it.'" Food is not only the way to people's hearts but also forging friendships!

Giada De Laurentiis is a first-generation college graduate

Giada De Laurentiis has had many firsts in her life, including being the first in her family to attend college. She attended the University of California – Los Angeles, per Biography. Although she took her studies seriously in school, she also made time to socialize. She met her eventual husband, clothing designer Todd Thompson, in college. Being a broke college student is a relatable experience, so she showed off her love for her beau in the best way she knew how: through his stomach. "When we first met, I didn't have any money because I was in college, and he paid every time we went out to dinner," she shared in an interview with Redbook. "So I'd show my love for him by making a meal."

De Laurentiis graduated from UCLA in 1996 with a degree in anthropology. The best part of the story: she was independent in completing her academic goals. "I paid for my own college," she revealed to Eater in an interview. "I paid to go to UCLA, probably why I went to UCLA and not USC."

Although being a first-generation college student is huge for many people, De Laurentiis recalls her family not being overly excited about her accomplishment. Given the cultural norms at the time, she didn't take offense to it. "I come from a large Italian family, they only care about boys," she explained. "Girls are supposed to get married and have children."

Giada de Laurentiis attended a culinary school in Paris

After attending college, Giada De Laurentiis was sure that she wanted to pursue a culinary career despite her parents' uncertainty in her career choice. The star put herself through culinary school at the renowned Cordon Bleu in Paris. "I'm going to be honest — it was brutal," she confessed to Total Food Service. "The chefs threw pans and rolling pins, I had burns all up and down my arms, and it was intense, laborious work." De Laurentiis was one of the few women in her class, but she describes the experience as a learning lesson that building a career in culinary arts wouldn't be a cakewalk — no pun intended.

In retrospect, the Food Network star encourages aspiring chefs to pursue culinary school. "Culinary school answers all of the "why" questions and teaches you techniques that you can take with you to any kitchen you work in," she added. "That said, anyone with the drive, passion and gumption to cook can excel in a restaurant kitchen, whether they have a formal education or not."

After finishing culinary school, she returned back to the United States where she worked for several high-profile chefs. After Food Network exec Bob Tuschman read an editorial De Laurentiis wrote about her family in Food & Wine, he asked her to put together an audition tape, which she stalled on for quite some time. "It took a year to convince me to put myself on tape," she explained to the publication. In 2003, "Everyday Italian" was born. The rest is history.

Giada De Laurentiis makes history with her Las Vegas restaurant

Hardships aside, Giada De Laurentiis became a major star following the success of "Everyday Italian." According to her Food Network bio, the show resulted in spin-offs. In 2007, "Giada's Weekend Getaways" began airing on the network, which filmed De Laurentiis at different popular food locations across the United States. In 2008, "Giada At Home" began its popular run. We can't forget the number of cookbooks she's released, which landed her on The New York Times' Best Seller list on multiple occasions. In the midst of her success, De Laurentiis and her now ex-husband Todd Thompson welcomed their daughter, Jade, when the former was 37.

The best was yet to come for the star at the time. In 2014, De Laurentiis became the first female chef to open a restaurant on the Las Vegas strip. By that accomplishment alone, De Laurentiis proved that sexism is no match for her determination "I've said this over and over to many women in my business — you kind of have to learn the ropes," she told Elle. "It's like a game of chess or Monopoly. You have to learn how to play the game." We love a little girl power!

There's a bright future ahead for Giada de Laurentiis

Given Giada De Laurentiis' accomplishments, many would think she is satisfied and comfortable with where she is. We have news for you: She's only getting started. De Laurentiis says she has a hard time believing she's done working. She told Total Food Service in October 2019, "I have a distinctive drive to keep accomplishing more, and I always hear my grandfather's voice in the back of my head telling me to keep going."

As far as her future plans go, the Food Network veteran is looking forward to incorporating wellness into her cooking routines. Her overall goal is to make the world a better place one plate at a time. "I believe the very first thing you can do for yourself is eat healthy and balanced, and everything else will fall into place," she continued. "One of my goals in life is to make sure I'm doing the best I can to take part in creating healthier lives for future generations." 

De Laurentiis' life is definitely a testimony that anything is possible once you set your mind to it. We can't wait to see what else she's cooking up in the future!