Like most of us, Giada De Laurentiis spent a lot of time in her kitchen during quarantine to pass the time. But the celebrity chef wanted to do more for fans safe at home. So, she partnered with Marshalls to invite shoppers across the nation to share their favorite finds from the retailer with #MarshallsWOW and #Contest. One lucky shopper was chosen to cook alongside Giada in a personalized six-hour virtual cooking session.
"I think we've all been going through a lot of fatigue, and we need a little extra excitement in our lives," De Laurentiis told Departures.
This comes ahead of the holidays that will look quite different this year, and Giada admitted it's going to take a little more work to wow her family. Of course, she has some tried-and-true recipes and entertaining tips to ensure the festive season is still special. Here she tells us all about those can't miss recipes and where she experiments.
How do you prepare for the holidays?
The most important thing is to plan. Not just what recipes you're going to make, but how you're going to serve them. The holidays are a time where I pull out really cool platters and bowls.
What are some of your favorite holiday dishes?
I love baked goods and big pastas; anything baked during the holidays to me is comfort food. So, I'm working on doing some of those with some of my favorite ingredients like pumpkin carbonara is really fun. Or butternut squash lasagna rolls. I roll them up, so they look fancier than a regular design. It's a way of wowing my family.
Do you focus on one meal during the holidays, or do you try to make all the meals memorable?
In my family, I usually take care of one main item—which on Thanksgiving would be the Turkey—or I do a couple of sides. My family likes to take control of different portions of the meals. So we tend to do a potluck, although this year will be a little different. And then I love dessert, and I am always in charge of dessert. As Italians, we give the panettone Christmas bread to everybody. So, I get a lot of them. The next day for breakfast, I will make French toast with it. I will just have it with coffee or tea in the morning. I also do triflest. I do everything under the sun with that panettone. So, yes, breakfast becomes very important to me the next day.
Do you stick with the same dishes or experiment each year?
Usually, the main meal is traditional; whether it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, my family likes what they like. But when it comes to dessert, that's when I do whatever I want to do. Sometimes I don't do a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and I'll do a cranberry and cherry crumble instead. Or, I'll make a chocolate tiramisu, something that's a little bit different than what I usually make. I rotate and change every year. So, that's usually the surprise of my family. But the actual meal has to stay the same, or I get a lot of blowbacks.
Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to coming up with new dishes?
I get it from everywhere. I used to say I got a lot from traveling, but I haven't gone anywhere. I get it from social media, from my fans. I get it from my daughter. I get it from just friends, and I get it from reading TV. I mean the same way you get inspired to do your hair differently or get dressed differently every day. And of course, going to farmer's markets inspires me.
You mentioned you're not traveling right now. So, did you use the time to learn something new in the kitchen?
It's been over 20 years since I've made sourdough bread. So, I started doing that. I also made homemade bagels from scratch, which I'd never done before. It was great to learn.
Is there a place on your bucket list when you can travel again?
Japan is one of them. I'd like to do a Safari. I would like to go to the Galapagos. I've never done that. There are a lot of places!