If you’ve ever watched Food Network’s Giada at Home, you might have seen the celebrity chef’s Aunt Raffy make a few appearances.
Aunt Raffy has played an important role in Giada De Laurentiis’ life and has a pretty interesting life of her own.
Aunt Raffy really is Giada De Laurentiis’ aunt
Raffaella (Raffy) De Laurentiis is the sister of Giada’s mother, Veronica. Raffy and Veronica’s father was Hollywood producer Dino De Laurentiis, famous for his films King Kong, Barbarella, and Hannibal.
Like her father, Raffy is also an accomplished film producer, with films such as Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, Dune, Prancer, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, all films in the Dragonheart series, The Forbidden Kingdom, and Kull the Conqueror under her belt.
Growing up, Giada was in awe of her aunt and her fearlessness in pursuing her dreams as a film producer.
“I watched many women in my family not have a lot of independence,” Giada told Parade in 2014. “She made a real career for herself and that was very alluring. I thought, ‘That’s the kind of woman I want to be.’ ”
The De Laurentiis family is originally from Rome, Italy
The 49-year-old mother of one is a Roman citizen. She was born there and lived there until she was six years old, so when she and her family arrived in the United States, it took her awhile to acclimate to a new country with new people and a new language.
She talked to Parade about being new in this country and feeling “foreign.”
“I had a different name,” she says. “I brought spaghetti Bolognese and Nutella sandwiches for school lunch. People ridiculed me for it, so I spent a lot of time alone or eating with teachers.”
Her family moved because her famous grandfather, film producer Dino De Laurentiis, moved. If the patriarch went to America, they all did, as she told L’Italo-Americano.
“I moved to America when I was six. My family would do what my grandfather said: he left and so we all went with him.”
Aunt Raffy helped Giada find her calling and stay true to herself
Once she was fully immersed in American culture, Giada found that she had become very americana. But her Aunt Raffy brought her back to center.
“She became totally American,” Raffy told Parade. “I had to bug her to learn Italian again when she started her career, because she couldn’t cook Italian and not speak it—or speak it wrong, which is even worse.”
And even more than reminding her of her roots, Raffy also instilled in Giada her passion for food and cooking. She taught Giada how to cook and helps her find and develop her recipes for her Food Network shows and cookbooks.
“I learned tradition from my grandfather,” Giada told Shape, “who grew up selling pasta in Naples; simplicity from my mom, who had four kids and had to get dinner on the table fast every night; and creativity from my aunt, who is my cooking soul mate.”
“[Raffy] finds the recipes and we tweak them. We’ve been doing that since I was a kid.”