How Giada De Laurentiis Got Her Big Break In The Food Industry

Her name may now be synonymous with Food Network cooking shows and Las Vegas restaurants, but celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis wasn't always such a prominent figure in the food industry. Despite studying at France's famous culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, working at the Ritz Carlton and Spago in Los Angeles, and starting her own catering company, becoming a TV personality purportedly wasn't among her initial career aspirations.

In fact, De Laurentiis was working as a food stylist — and believed she would continue to do so — when a pivotal moment in the Italian-American chef's culinary journey catapulted her into stardom and redirected her career path: She was asked to write an article about her family's food traditions.

This article, which resulted from a food styling job she did with Food & Wine magazine, led to De Laurentiis' big break, paving the way for her eventual television debut with the show "Everyday Italian," and subsequent fame.

The food styling gig that changed everything

Giada De Laurentiis' first venture into the public food scene happened while she was assisting a friend with food styling, eventually leading to her involvement in a Thanksgiving shoot for Food & Wine in the early 2000s. At that time, the magazine was running a series on chefs and their families. With Giada's grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis, being the recipient of a lifetime achievement award at the Oscar's that year, her family was already quite well-known. A staff member from Food & Wine approached Giada with a story idea: a lunch featuring the De Laurentiis family.

The magazine requested that Giada gather her family together for the shoot, and write down some of their recipes. She complied, and Food & Wine photographed the fateful Sunday meal, later publishing an article on the family's food traditions and special meals, with Giada at the helm.

Food Network reached out to Giada De Laurentiis first

The next turning point in Giada De Laurentiis' career came when a Food Network executive read the Food & Wine article featuring her family. He contacted the chef and proposed an even more thrilling opportunity: starring in her own cooking show.

Food Network saw potential in De Laurentiis and the recipes she had shared for an Italian cooking show it was planning. However, the network needed to see her on camera first, and requested a demo. De Laurentiis agreed, submitting it almost a year later — and the rest is history. 

In 2003, "Everyday Italian" premiered, marking the start of De Laurentiis' renowned career. Since then, the celebrity chef has starred in nearly a dozen television shows, opened several restaurants, authored New York Times bestselling cookbooks, and launched a popular TikTok where she shares helpful cooking tips. All of this originated from her initial work as an assistant food stylist.