Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis Talks Cooking, Coffee and Making Connections
Lifestyle Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis’ social media platform, Giadzy, is creating a fresh way for her audience to engage and connect through food.
The restaurant business is notoriously difficult to succeed in. How has your digital presence elevated your brand’s reputation and sparked interest that fuels long-term business and collaboration?
In today’s culture, we taste first with our eyes. If something looks enticing and decadent, people are more inclined to taste it and social media is a great vehicle for that. When I create a dish, flavor comes first but presentation is almost equally important. It’s an experience through and through. When we first opened Giada Vegas, Instagram was one of our main marketing tools–we focused on taking great photos of the food, mostly with an iPhone, and sharing them. We also asked followers for feedback–do they prefer this sauce or another? At that time it was fairly rare. Chefs were posting images, yes, but mostly with dark, dim lighting. It helped us stand out in the space and it still blows my mind that @GiadaVegas has one of the biggest single-restaurant followings to date.
How has your site, Giadzy.com, and your social media presence helped you connect to your customers and build a brand outside of your Food Network career?
I really wanted to create a platform where I could have a direct dialogue with my audience-- one that was much more casual and organic. If I cooked a great dinner for Jade and wanted to share it the next day online, Giadzy made that possible in a way that doesn’t happen with television and books. One day I hope Giadzy will be a space where you can shop the entire look from pantry to table in one place. A full 360 experience!
Coffee culture in many countries have a history around bringing people together and sharing quality taste and experiences. How did your Italian roots influence your culinary style and the experience you wanted people to have from your site?
Italian culture is all about that exact idea. Food brings people together in ways that few other things in this life can. Meals in Italy are meant to be enjoyed with company over a long period of time — finding takeout anything is very difficult in Italy! We let the ingredients speak for themselves, too. The ingredients in my recipes are simple a purposeful, and that’s what makes them so delicious!
How does your palate help you select quality ingredients that set your restaurant apart?
I like to think of my style of cooking as Italian with a California twist. My staple ingredients for any dish are parmesan, olive oil, lemon and salt. I think people usually think of Italian food as being very hearty, so it's a nice change to dine at one of my restaurants where more freshness is incorporated.
When selecting what coffee to serve customers, friends and yourself, what standards and values are most important to you?
Ah, good coffee is so important to me. When selecting the coffee for Pronto, we went through weeks of tasting sessions before finally landing on the perfect blend from Counter Culture coffee. It's bold, slightly acidic and delicious. I've been trying lots of different organic coffee brands, with a few of my favs being Java Planet and Groundworks' 'Bitches Brew'.
What are some of your favorite ways to take your coffee?
I take my coffee only one way–black with plenty of agave.
What is one of your favorite recipes from your site that you think pairs best with an espresso?
My New and Improved Lemon Ricotta Cookies, of course. We serve them at Giada Vegas but I recently perfected the recipe (and made a few tweaks!) and shared on Giadzy.