They say you shouldn’t trust a skinny chef, but the world’s made an exception for Giada De Laurentiis. The television personality, cookbook author, and celebrity chef is one of few woman who’ve taken on the challenge of running a kitchen on the Las Vegas strip. Below, she talks about the link between food and beauty, accepting the right kind of criticism, and what she did when television executives wanted her to look a certain way.
SB: Congratulations are in order! You just opened your first restaurant?
GDL: The restaurant is on the second floor of The Cromwell, a boutique hotel in Las Vegas, with unbelievable views of the Strip and the Bellagio fountains. It’s been one heck of an adventure. I’ve never opened up a restaurant in my life, so at times I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but then I think, ‘I can do this.’ It’s one of the very few female chef-run restaurants on the Strip, which is pretty empowering.
SB: You have been cooking on camera for over a decade; have you ever felt pressure to look a certain way on TV?
GDL: In the beginning, everyone liked to tell me what I should wear while cooking—they wanted me to wear button-down shirts to look like Martha Stewart, but I have very short arms, and a larger chest, so it was very uncomfortable; I felt like I was in a straight jacket half the time. They also told me that I looked too thin for a chef, because of that old saying never trust a skinny chef. There was also the issue of my very curly hair, which I actually wanted to figure out how to tame. So the bonus of being on TV was that I actually learned how to take care of my hair in a better way. I think that’s what women have to figure out, what’s the helpful criticism that actually makes you feel and look better? As women, we worry too much about what everybody else thinks, but you have to like what you see in the mirror. Whatever you put out about yourself is what everybody else is going to see. So with my hair, I welcomed the advice and it was helpful. The other things, I really pushed back. As you get older you start to realize it’s okay, you’re not going to make everyone happy. So you move on and learn to be happy within yourself.
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SB: At Yahoo Beauty, we really believe in the connection between the food you eat and how you feel and look. What foods make you feel beautiful?
GDL: A lot of us feel weighed down by processed foods that are filled with sugar, salt, and all sorts of interesting ingredients that we can’t even pronounce. That kind of food tires you out and makes you feel older faster. It’s really important to eat simple, clean, seasonal food. So I agree, it’s not just the products you put on your body, but it’s also what you put in your body. It is a combo of the two that keep you feeling healthy, young and radiant.
SB: So what are your go-to beauty foods?
GDL: I use a lot of coconut oil, olive oil, and even almond oil. The thing is, those things are not only great to eat, but they are also great to use on your body, nails, and on the tips of your hair. Your whole body needs more moisture as you get older. I like finding the nice balance between ingesting oils and being able to use them on your body, skin and hair. Clairol’s Natural Instincts, which I love so much for my hair, has coconut oil in it, too.
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SB: But you’re a chef, so you’re constantly surrounded by amazing food. How do you stay healthy?
GDL: Part of it is not overeating, that’s number one. People think if you work out a lot, that’s good enough and you can eat whatever you want. That’s not true. For me, it really is about calories in and calories out. I eat very clean and light—a lot of grilled or baked foods, rather than frying or cooking in heavy oils. I always incorporate lots of veggies and fruits. I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. I think in life, that’s sort of my motto. There are going to be times when you want to indulge and you can do that, but then the next day, you taper back a little bit and give your body a break. That’s the important thing, do not deprive yourself. Eat what you crave, just try not to overdo anything. If you do one day, give yourself a break and the next day just kind of pull back a bit.
SB: That is such a healthy attitude! Thank you for sharing.
GDL: Thank you!