"I think I lost like five pounds in three days filming the pilot," says the chef.

By Christina Butan
October 19, 2018 03:37 PM
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Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented By Coca-Cola - Barilla's Italian Table hosted by Giada De Laurentiis
Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty

It’s hard to believe, but cooking on television didn’t come naturally to Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis.

“In the beginning it was very intimidating,” says the Italian-born chef, who was working as a food stylist when Food Network recruited her to host Everyday Italian in 2003 with no previous on-camera experience.

“I think I just wasn’t open enough; I wasn’t secure enough,” she says in PEOPLE’s The Stars of Food Network special edition. “Italian culture and Italian food were such a part of my every day that I didn’t realize other people wouldn’t understand certain things.”

De Laurentiis, who co-hosts Food Network Star with Bobby Flay, says she was constantly being told to explain things.

Giada De LaurentiisEveryday Italian, 2003

“Everybody cooks their pasta al dente, don’t they?” she continues. “I think I lost like five pounds in three days filming the pilot.”

Eventually she got the hang of it, but De Laurentiis will also never forget her first time on live television as a guest on the Today show.

“Al Roker was my host,” she says. “I made a grilled chicken with three different pestos, but it was actually the stylist who cooked the food…we get to the point where Al says, ‘Let’s taste it’ and cuts into the chicken, and it was raw inside!”


Laurentiis says Roker remembers her blank face. “I just froze, my entire body and mind froze,” she recalls.

Now a pro at handling on-air mishaps, De Laurentiis says it’s “those terrifying moments [that] end up being the things that can change your career.”

Read new interviews with your favorite Food Network stars in People’s special edition, The Stars of Food Network, on sale on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold