Palisades Fourth of July Parade Grand Marshal Is Author, Celebrity Chef Giada De Laurentiis

By Libby Motika
Palisades News Contributor

It’s hard to get around your genes. And despite her parents discouraging her from becoming a chef, warning her of the hard work and male-dominated realm, food was it for Giada De Laurentiis.

Now the glorified queen of Italian cooking on TV, a best-selling book author and restaurant owner, Giada De Laurentiis, accompanied by her 9-year-old daughter Jade, will preside over the 2017 Pacific Palisades Fourth of July parade as Grand Marshal.

Born in Rome, De Laurentiis grew up in a large Italian family, where food was an obsession.

Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis

She learned to make pasta dough from her grandfather, movie producer Dino De Laurentiis who grew up selling spaghetti made at his father’s pasta factory in Naples before embarking on his film career. While enjoying a string a successful movies, in Italy and in Hollywood (“King Kong,” “Ragtime,” “Blue Velvet”) Dino turned for a time to the business of food in the 1980s, operating DDL Foodshow, an upscale market and restaurant with branches in New York and Beverly Hills.

Giada’s mother, Veronica, is an actress and author.

Despite knowing at an early age that she was headed towards the kitchen, the future chef acceded to her family’s wishes and earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UCLA, before going off to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Upon her return to Los Angeles, Giada put in the necessary sweat work, working the line at the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey and in the pastry department at Spago before starting GDL catering company.

It was a simple article about the De Laurentiis family in Food & Wine magazine that caught the eye of a Food Network executive that catapulted Giada toward her career at the network, where she has become one of its most recognizable faces.

Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis

Despite her grandfather’s admonishment, “What the hell do you want to do that for? You’ll never fit in; and you’re too little,” the just under 5’2’’ Giada towers in her field.

She has not only remained a top star for 15 years at the Food Network, written eight New York Times bestselling cookbooks (including her most recent, “Happy Cooking,” a collection of Giada’s recipes and tips for leading a healthy and happy life), she was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012. And, she operates a restaurant, Giada, in Las Vegas.

The former Palisadian is an expert in her field and a much sought-after guide for home cooks looking for help for their own gatherings. Although her persona is decidedly winning and glamorous, her recipes are easy to follow while consistently delivering on flavor.

Rooted in the wisdom of her grandfather, who grew up poor, Giada keeps his wise counsel. “Poor people have no money to spend for good material, but they use fantasy and imagination,” he said. “And with fantasy and imagination, you always find the best way to cook.”

Grand Marshals Since 1990

  • 1990: Ann Martin, TV news co-anchor
  • 1991: Eddie Albert, Actor
  • 1992: Jon Hartung, TV news co-anchor
  • 1993: Michael Jackson, Radio talk show host
  • 1994: Monty Hall, Co-creator of “Let’s Make a Deal”
  • 1995: Jan Murray, Comic storyteller
  • 1996: Paul Moyer, TV news anchor
  • 1997: Casey Kasem, Radio personality
  • 1998: Larry Elder, Radio talk show host
  • 1999: Anthony Hopkins, Actor
  • 2000: Michael Richards, “Seinfeld” co-star
  • 2001: Dennis Tito, Space tourist
  • 2002: Art Linkletter, Radio/TV personality and author
  • 2003: Barbara Billingsley, “Leave It to Beaver” actress
  • 2004: Rafer Johnson, Olympic Gold Medalist
  • 2005: Linda Blair, “The Exorcist” Actress
  • 2006: Patti Page, “The Singing Rage”
  • 2007: Pat Boone, Singer/actor
  • 2008: Marion Ross, “Happy Days” actress
  • 2009: Katie Stam, Miss America
  • 2010: Jim Brown, Football player
  • 2011: Jeffrey Tambor, Actor
  • 2012: Jerry Mathers, Actor
  • 2013: Ed Asner, Actor
  • 2014: Steve Kerr, NBA coach
  • 2015: Bill Handel, Radio personality
  • 2016: Kevin Nealon, Actor
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