Monday, April 23, 2012


Earlier this month my girlfriends and I went to the Riverside Theater to see Giada De Laurentiis (that beautiful Italian woman with a large head on the Food Network).

I love Giada for her clean, impeccable style. Her food is accessible and real. It's healthy but the girl likes to indulge. You (that would be you, Ticketmaster) had me at "ticket comes with a signed cookbook."

Although I dig Giada, her show isn't too personal, so I settled in for a night of food tips, how-to-be-more-Giaday tips and of course, some friendship-love time with my ladies.

Giada was great. The interviewer was so-so. She wouldn't let the conversation run naturally. One minute they were discussing her personal chef gig for Ron Howard and the next question would focus around her love of chocolate ('Scuse me, I'd like to hear some embarrassing celebrity stories please!).

Lack of interview skills aside, I walked away with a few nuggets of wisdom - most of them non-food related:
  • Her cookbooks are snapshots into her life. In the beginning of her career, it was just her and her husband (her Anthropologie designer husband). She had the luxury of time to shop at specialty stores and cook elaborate dinners. Now, after a long work day, she's whipping up quick meals her whole family will enjoy.

    I know I'm not alone when I say that I related to this - big time. Although, at this point, Ingrid pretty much eats anything. As I listened to her discuss the differences pre and post baby - I longed for those days of creating elaborate dinners. To cook loudly in the kitchen. Run to the store if I forgot anything. And linger at the farmer's market instead of just barreling through and hoping for the best.

    That said, I'm incredibly excited to invite Ingrid into the kitchen and can't wait to teach her the joys of cooking and baking. I'm also not excited about the finicky toddler years (does every kid go through this?).This inspired me to cook a real meal on Saturday. A real meal that wasn't a pain, but did require time and effort - Ricotta Gnocchi (yum!) and Orange-Glazed Pork (great if you have purees on hand - if not, not worth the extra effort).
  • I was using extra virgin olive oil incorrectly. Turns out, you're not supposed to heat extra virgin olive oil. Like ever. I knew about saving the "good stuff" for salads and dressings - but you're not actually supposed to heat it. Huh. So, I bought good ol' regular olive oil for cooking (and keep it away from the light and heat!). See, some tips were food related.
  • Getting out of your bubble is a good thing. In an indirect way, most of the conversation centered around the successes of stretching yourself and get comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Small stretch: ordering something you normally wouldn't off of the menu. Big stretch: Moving to Paris for culinary school. She recalled her major turning point was attending culinary school in Paris. Being under the watchful eye of her Italian family, she was able to explore the city and really "make it" on her own.

    Like everyone else, I have a few items on my mental bucket list that I'd really like to check off - or better yet, experience. They include: becoming a yoga instructor, moving out of Wisconsin, owning some sort of coffee shop/art studio/yoga class space, travel (and then travel some more) and finally - to be a barista.
  • She is also the voice of "Paulette," a character on the animated children's show Handy Manny. Hey, it's on her Wikipedia page - so, that's something. 

But seriously, it was a good first-hand account and reminder to get out of the cozy, comfortable bubble - whether it be with your family, location, career or your staple grocery list. I'm not going to make any dramatic declarations and promise something insane - but I do hope to keep working toward some of these "must-do" items.

Because if a beautiful, talented, well-connected Italian woman can be a celebrity chef - I'm betting that I can one day work at Starbucks.  

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