Giada De Laurentiis Had This Reaction to a Negative New York Times Restaurant Review
Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis is one of today’s hottest chefs and biggest stars on Food Network. With a menu (pardon the pun) of shows including Everyday Italian, Giada at Home, Giada Entertains, Giada in Italy, and Giada’s Weekend Getaways, De Laurentiis has mastered not only being a television personality, but also a restauranteur with her two Las Vegas establishments.
With her evident culinary talent, some may find it hard to fathom that the gourmet chef was ever subjected to a poor review by a food critic. Yet De Laurentiis’ restaurant, simply named Giada, got roasted when it opened in 2014 by none other than The New York Times.
Started as an on-camera amateur
De Laurentiis started her culinary career as a food stylist. In true Hollywood style, she was literally discovered by an exec from Food Network.
“I was styling for one of Food & Wine’s Thanksgiving shoots, and someone at the magazine asked to do a story on my family and their food-lunch with the De Laurentiis family,” De Laurentiis recalled, according to Food & Wine. “An executive at the Food Network found the article and read the recipes, and called me up saying he was looking to do an Italian cooking show and asked if I had experience. He said he had seen my recipes and seen me but didn’t know how I’d be on camera, so he asked me to put together a demo. Nine months later I did it, and Everyday Italian was born—purely accidentally.”
When De Laurentiis started hosting Everyday Italian in 2003, she didn’t have any prior experience as on-air talent. “I think I just wasn’t open enough; I wasn’t secure enough,” she told People. “Italian culture and Italian food were such a part of my every day that I didn’t realize other people wouldn’t understand certain things. Everybody cooks their pasta al dente, don’t they? I think I lost like five pounds in three days filming the pilot.”
The Food Network star opened her restaurant Giada in Las Vegas’ Cromwell Hotel in 2014. When New York Times food critic Pete Wells came in for a meal to review for his column, De Laurentiis reports that “it was not pretty.”
The critic tore apart her pasta and pizza, and labeled Giada’s signature dish, chicken cacciatore, “a puzzle whose pieces didn’t fit” with “browned, dry chicken pieces that seemed to have no relationship to the original bird.”
De Laurentiis was crushed by the criticism. “I spent two days bawling my eyes out,” De Laurentiis said in an interview with the Eater Upsell podcast. “He went a month after I opened, and of course he ripped it to shreds.”
The culinary guru knew she would have her share of naysayers and moved forward, though she admits it was a blow. “They’re after us. It’s fine,” De Laurentiis said, according to People. “It is what it is. It’s part of who we are. We open ourselves up to those critics. I feel like I have my iconic dishes, my restaurant does really well, I do my best to deliver great service and great food, and that is the job that I have. I will tell you that I was immensely upset. It really killed me for a while.”
Business lessons from parenting
While the negative review was difficult for De Laurentiis to shake, she has learned over the years to choose her battles. She credits her daughter Jade for helping her change her mindset.
“I tend to sweat the small stuff sometimes and then I started to realize over time that I need to let go a little bit. And also that I need to start to prioritize what I fight for and what I don’t,” De Laurentiis told Entrepreneur. “My daughter has taught me this as well. You have to pick your battles with your children. You can’t fight them on every single thing. It’s the same in business. You just can’t fight everybody and every single thing. Figure out what really means something to you, fight for those big things and let the little thing fly.”
With De Laurentiis’ obvious talent, one bad review is small in comparison to her successful culinary empire.