Giada de Laurentiis has been gracing our televisions since 2003, when she first appeared on Everyday Italian. But even after studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writing a handful of cookbooks, and appearing on her own shows and others on Food Network,it turns out that one of the most valuable cooking lessons she ever learned came from her daughter.
Speaking recently at a Self-Care Summit put on by Create & Cultivate, De Laurentiis shared some of the fears she had about motherhood.
“I thought when I got pregnant, that it would end my career,” she said. However, “having my daughter helped me overcome a lot of my fears….it made it better for my career to have my daughter.”
One of the ways that motherhood affected the cook? “It taught me to cook faster,” shared De Laurentiis.
Honestly, that makes a lot of sense. Sometimes when I think back to the Hamburger Helper and Crock Pot Swiss Steak made with a packet of seasoning that I ate growing up I have to remind myself that my mom worked full time and was still trying to put dinner on the table for a family of four by 5 pm — it’s really no easy feat. Speed is the name of the game when you’re a parent. De Laurentiis has a different cooking style (in my mom’s defense she was busy and it was the nineties), but still, there’s a big difference between putting a quick plate of spaghetti aglio e olio on the table with some sauteed broccolini than trying to make an elaborate lasagna or an involved dessert without losing your mind because you simultaneously are working on notes for the next episode of your TV show and trying to keep an increasingly tired baby entertained.
De Laurentiis also said that having her daughter made her want to get back to her roots and focus on her family’s Italian culture, so she can pass down their traditions to her child.
“How do you take care of yourself and take care of your child and still have a career? It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” said De Laurentiis. Flexibility is key — like cooking faster! — as is asking for help. “You can’t do it alone,” De Laurentiis emphasized.
The next time I start cooking a “quick weeknight meal” that turns into a two-hour-long odyssey involving a trip to Whole Foods and the use of every pot and pan in the cupboard, I’ll try to channel De Laurentiis. If I don’t manage to cut back on cooking time, at least maybe I’ll learn how to arrange my face into her permanent and definitely not spooky at all smile.