Friday, October 19, 2012

Interviews with BIG Food Stars – Part Two: Getting To Know Bobby and Giada...And Who Knew What A Sweetie Pie Bobby Was?

Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentiis were two more of the interview subjects at the Times Talk event last weekend.  Julia Moskin, who has coauthored some of Bobby’s cookbooks, was the interviewer.

We heard about Giada’s big Italian family and I had forgotten about her grandfather’s foray into the gourmet food business. He started DDL Foodshow in New York and Los Angeles - one of the first stores of its kind. I guess America wasn’t quite ready for quality foreign food products on its store shelves. It definitely sounds like a precursor to Eataly. Giada made the point that he made movies for his business, but cooking and food was his real passion. 

I had known that Giada came to this country when she was 8 and spoke Italian as her first language. It seems as if she had this wonderful, glamorous (at least to outsiders) Italian family life - albeit with some tragedy. She didn’t mention the loss of her brother.  But what I had never heard her talk about before was how difficult that transition was. Previously, she's said that a lot of the food she had as a child was completely different from anything in her school lunch room in Los Angeles, but there is a lot more to the story.

Poor Giada, with the strange name and new to this country, was bullied in school. She was so different from her schoolmates that they gave her a really hard time. That's awful. If I had had a kid in my school who had brought REAL Italian food for lunch, I would have beaten a path to her side and never left it. She made the point too that her daughter lives in a completely different world than she did and Giada was careful to give her a name that was easily pronounced and recognized in this country. I love the name Jade.

Anyway, Giada seems like a lovely person and a very gentle soul and I’m sorry that meanies bullied her. She probably doesn’t have an ounce of revenge in her, but I hope they’re watching her success today and feeling horrible AND really, really jealous.

Giada’s start in the kitchen came naturally as a result of a food-centric family. Bobby’s childhood also provided the start to his cooking career, but in a very different way. He was trying to overcome the limited nature of his family's culinary history. Plus Bobby turned to cooking as a job first, and also a way to stay out of trouble. Obviously, it became more than a way to make a living.

Finally there was, for me at least, a real nugget of new information. I have no idea where I’ve been, because this is NOT new news, but Bobby and Giada are doing a talk show together airing in the fall of 2013 (as of this writing).
The interviewer asked if there was a need for more chat and another talk show? Bobby said ABSOLUTELY. He said he grew up watching Regis and Katheeee Leeee and he always wanted to do a show like this.

What was surprisingly moving was the story that Bobby told about choosing Giada as his cohost. He had been discussing with his agent (who also happens to be Giada’s agent) who he could team up with. He wanted a really great woman as a television partner and nobody was fitting the bill.  

Then 2½ years ago, Giada joined The Next Food Network Star as a judge and she was going on The View to promote the show. Giada asked Bobby to go on with her and he said that as they walked out, the applause was 20 times more than when he had done the show himself.

And then - this is the sweet part – as they were sitting on the couch, Bobby had a kind of out of body experience (my words, not his). He saw the two of them together and suddenly realized…THE PERSON I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR HAS BEEN RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME FOR 10 YEARS. IT’S GIADA! 

OMG! That is the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard, even though I know he didn’t mean it romantically. (He thinks of Giada as the sister he never had.) 

It won’t be all cooking and it won’t be like The Chew. (Thank goodness.) They’ll start with a chat segment, bring out a guest or two and then cook for maybe one segment. Bobby told us it would be filmed in New York and Giada would be moving here. Giada didn’t exactly confirm that part, while Bobby said she was kind of in denial about the whole thing. Giada claimed she was just taking things as they came. But I think it could be good. These are two people that we don't know everything about and that might make for interesting television as they reveal more of themselves. 

See if this link works for Bobby’s and Giada’s talk. Here is a condensed version of the talk. Just click on their names.

There were two more talks. I missed Marcus Samuelsson’s, which would have been interesting, because he has such a compelling personal history. I’ll give you a hint who the next food “personality” is. 

See you next time, y’all! 


Aly ~ Cooking in Stilettos said...

GREAT Recap Sue! Sadly, I didn't get to go to NYCWFF this year but I have heard rumblings about a talk show. I think those two will be good together. Giada in NYC - didn't expect her to move to the east coast.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting the link to these Times Talks up! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I was also a little surprised at how smart Bobby Flay came off, which I didn't expect. But he's a shrewd businessman, I just hadn't seen that side of him on TV before.

The most telling things for me were sort of related: (1) the discussion of whether you can teach a good cook to be good on TV or do you have to be reasonably good on TV and then you can be taught cooking, and (2) that both Bobby and Giada would never have made it if they were contestants on Food Network Star.

Obviously, both of them could cook when they started. I spoke with a friend of a friend who has worked for Bobby Flay in his restaurants and attested to just how hard he has worked with media training and acting lessons (and lots of practice) to be good on TV. He didn't come by it naturally, and so he feels that if he can do that part, anyone can with enough help. Giada started out saying that you really didn't need to cook well to be on the Food Network because it's for home cooks, but you have to have the right TV personality. She did have to step back from that a bit, though, perhaps she realized she was criticizing the show hosts' cooking abilities!

But I thought the moderator missed a great opportunity to press them when they said they wouldn't have made it through TNFNS. So why is that show on the air? If TNFNS doesn't guarantee that the winner is actually going to be able to do a show, and if it still takes years of practice, why is FN doing it? Is any of the previous winners' cooking shows as popular as Bobby, Giada, or Ina? I don't think so -- so why isn't FN trying to nurture talent instead of having these half-baked shows?

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I guess Giada got her revenge on the bullies.

Knowing Italian was her first language, people really need to lay off Giada for actually SPEAKING ITALIAN CORRECTLY. No she's not purposely over enunciating Italian words to show off. She's SPEAKING ITALIAN. No one gets that.