Giada De Laurentiis, who charmed fans during the Taste of Chicago, is back in town Friday and Saturday on behalf of Target. Since she'll busy hawking her new line of cookware and food products and giving away free groceries, we got the chit-chat -- about celebrity, children and chocolate -- out of the way today.
De Laurentiis is the mother of a 2-1/2-year-old girl, the author of five cookbooks (the newest, Giada at Home, was out this spring) and a bona fide Food Network star who makes it all look so breezy and easy but, refreshingly, gives credit where it's due (her clothing designer husband's flexible schedule allows her to travel and fulfill her many commitments, she says).
Mostly, she just sounds like the rest of us parents -- concerned with figuring out the work-life balance and making sure her kid isn't eating total crap.
On not getting a true taste of the Taste of Chicago (she and buddy Mario Batali were the cooking demo headliners this year): "It was overwhelming and I didn't get to walk around as much as I would've liked. When I asked to go out for a walk, it was very brief, and it got a lot of people very stressed out."
On not being a sandwich-at-lunch person: "I don't believe in sandwiches. And I know a lot of parents give their kids sandwiches. For lunch, my daughter usually gets pasta with protein and a vegetable. I put it in a Thermos and it stays warm."
On Americans' tendency to scare themselves out of the kitchen: "We have time to cook. I think it's how much do we want to do it. . . Maybe you cook twice a week. And if you cook twice a week, it'll last you four days. And then maybe after that, you go ahead and open a package of something to eat. People think they have to change their entire way of thinking and eating, but truly, it's baby steps. If you just cook one night a week, that's a big difference."
On why you probably won't see a Giada talk show anytime soon: "I feel like for me, because I have a small child, I have to be very careful as to what I spend my time doing. Because obviously we can't do everything and we can't do everything well. I've been trying to figure out how much can I do and what can I do well. I don't want to wake up one day and say, Oh my gosh, my daughter's 10, where have I been all this time."
On her mini-me daughter: "In her preschool, they have a little kitchen set up. She'll go up to [classmates] and say, 'I'll cook you something. Do you want me to cook you something?' "
On her guilty pleasure: "Frozen chocolate chips."
On Twitter: "I don't do Facebook, but I do tweet. I think I like to because it's immediate. It's really been fun. And it is me doing it."
Follow De Laurentiis on Twitter at @GDeLaurentiis. Or catch a glimpse of her at noon Friday at 435 N. Michigan - she'll be doing a cooking demo, signing books and handing out food.