Tragic Details About Giada De Laurentiis

Giada De Laurentiis is a huge star in the world of food television. Born into a family of actors, producers, and directors, she was bound for stardom; however, it was not the silver screen that called to her, but food. Coming from a big Italian family, food has always been a huge part of De Laurentiis' life, so it makes sense that she merged her family's two passions and made a career out of cooking on television. After attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she became a private chef and caterer before her big breakthrough in the world of television. Her first half-hour show, "Everyday Italian," premiered on the Food Network in 2003, and she has been a darling of food TV ever since. 

Things were not always bright and easy for the Italian chef, however. De Laurentiis moved to the United States from Italy at the age of seven, speaking almost no English at all. She experienced culture shock and intense bullying. Even as an adult with a successful career, tragedy followed her. After losing her brother to cancer in 2003, De Laurentiis' entire outlook on life changed. "It made me work harder. It made me really appreciate every day I'm here and feel good, and it also made me attuned to my body a lot more than ever before," the chef told Parade. From bullying to tabloid rumors to divorce, these are all of the tragic details about Giada De Laurentiis.

Giada De Laurentiis was bullied

Giada De Laurentiis may be a successful celebrity chef now, but that was not always the case. She moved to the United States from Italy as a child. Back in the 1970s, people were much less welcoming than they are now of those with proud Italian heritage. And De Laurentiis's family was very proud of their heritage; "My family takes their culture very seriously, so even when we moved to the U.S., we still lived very Italian lives," the chef told Business Insider. For example, the family always spoke Italian at home and ate traditional Neapolitan food. De Laurentiis "didn't speak a word of English," as she told Redbook magazine, and was relentlessly bullied by her American classmates. "Truly, it was horrifying the names they called me, and the teachers never really did a thing to stop it," she said.

The bullying that De Laurentiis suffered was not for naught, however. The chef used her experiences to make her television show "as clear and fun and un-intimidating as possible." She told Redbook magazine that she believes children can help build their self-confidence by learning to cook. In fact, De Laurentiis attributes winning over her classmates in school to her cooking talents. "I'd bring things to class that I'd cooked at home, and my classmates were like, 'Wow. This is amazing, and that girl with the funny name cooked it!'"

She was shamed for her body in school

Today, Giada De Laurentiis is known for her femininity and is often considered a sex symbol in the world of celebrity cooking. However, it took her quite some time to become comfortable with this label. In a 2011 interview with Redbook magazine, the celebrity chef confessed, "It's only been the last five years that I've become comfortable with that." The chef admits that becoming a mother helped her embrace her body, because she wanted to show her daughter that she should be proud of who she is.

Many of these feelings come from De Laurentiis' difficult childhood. The chef's classmates mocked her Italian name, her accent, and the food that she ate. "My different name and Italian food that I brought to school were not seen as cool by my classmates at the time," De Laurentiis told Business Insider. On top of that, De Laurentiis was ashamed of her body from a very early age. "I developed breasts when I was 9 years old, and I was the only one in my class," De Laurentiis told Redbook magazine. The chef continued, "I would literally sit in class hunched over because I was so embarrassed about my body." De Laurentiis also admitted that she still feels ashamed of her body sometimes. While she is trying to be more confident to inspire her daughter, there are still things that she would change about herself.

Giada De Laurentiis's teachers threw knives at her

Giada De Laurentiis started college at UCLA, studying Anthropology. Eventually, the chef-to-be decided to abandon that field to pursue her dream of studying professional cooking. She moved to Paris to attend Le Cordon Bleu after finally convincing her parents that it was a good idea. The cooking school wasn't all that De Laurentiis expected it to be, however. Speaking with Time magazine, the chef revealed that her time in Paris was a very lonely, challenging experience. "I hated it for the first two months," De Laurentiis said and added, "I was lonely; I had never been away from my family."

On top of that, school was exceptionally difficult. De Laurentiis explained that the teachers created a very hostile environment, far different from her experience in the U.S. She described her teachers as "evil" and went into detail about the abuse she suffered at their hands. "They threw stuff at us — sauces, knives," De Laurentiis explained, "It is a different mentality. They were treating us the way they were treated coming up, and they were letting us have it. Nobody can prepare you for that." While her experience was less than ideal, De Laurentiis is also adamant that the school has improved; "it's not like that anymore," the chef said during the 2006 interview with Time.

Giada De Laurentiis lost her brother to cancer

Tragedy struck the De Laurentiis family when Giada's brother, Dino De Laurentiis, was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 29. Tragically, the cancer was located on her brother's back, so it took him a very long time to realize anything was wrong. "Otherwise, we would have caught it and he would still be alive today," Giada told Entertainment Tonight. When Dino died at the age of 31 in 2003, Giada lost the person she could always lean on. Speaking to ET, she explained that even though Dino was two years younger than her, it often felt like he was her older brother because she could count on him for absolutely anything. "He was the person I turned to for everything," Giada explained, "When something great happened in my life, when something bad happened — I would talk to him 2-3 times per day."

And while Dino lived with his cancer diagnosis for about two years before passing, Giada never really thought that she would lose her brother. "I didn't actually believe he was going to die," the chef told Parade, explaining that she thought that her brother's youth and strength would help him recover. When he passed away, her outlook on life changed drastically. "When we actually lost him, I realized nothing can be taken for granted in this life, and you better make the most of every single day," Giada said.

Giada De Laurentiis was accused of cheating on her husband multiple times

While Giada De Laurentiis has made a successful career as a TV personality on the Food Network, the "Everyday Italian" star has not been immune from tabloids. The chef has been accused of cheating on her now ex-husband multiple times. Rumors have surrounded De Laurentiis for years, including alleged affairs with John Mayer, Bobby Flay, and Matt Lauer.

In 2010, Star Magazine accused De Laurentiis of having a "steamy hookup" with John Mayer (via Today). Both parties vehemently denied the claims, with De Laurentiis addressing the rumors in an interview with Redbook magazine. Of her interaction with Mayer she said, "Maybe we chatted for five minutes, but I wouldn't consider that intimate ..." In another example, De Laurentiis was accused of cheating on her husband with her long-time friend and Food Network co-star Bobby Flay. Flay's representatives responded to the accusations by saying that the "two colleagues and old friends had a quick dinner," and nothing more, according to Page Six.

De Laurentiis has also been accused of being intimate with her friend and co-worker Matt Lauer. The pair have gone on vacation and out to dinner together, and fans have noticed that they share a particularly flirty chemistry when they appear on the Today Show together. De Laurentiis vehemently denies all claims of any wrongdoing on her part, telling Page Six, "My long-time friendships with my co-workers Matt Lauer and Bobby Flay are exactly that — long-time friendships."

When it rains, it pours for Giada De Laurentiis

It turns out the tabloids don't care what is going on in the personal lives of celebrities when they spread rumors about them. Giada De Laurentiis found herself grappling with turmoil and loss all at once when her grandfather died the day after tabloids spread rumors that she was cheating on her husband with singer-songwriter John Mayer. Regarding the affair accusations, De Laurentiis told Redbook magazine that she was shocked and her husband was embarrassed. "The only things that could possibly have tied us together is that we were at the same hotel that weekend in question — which, by the way, my husband was with me there as well," she said of the rumor.

De Laurentiis also opened up about losing her grandfather with Redbook magazine, saying, "Any time any of us had a question, we would always call him first. I saw him nearly every weekend for the last year. He really wanted his family around. He loved to sit and chat with us." It's a shame that De Laurentiis wasn't able to talk to her grandfather about her tabloid troubles. The celebrity chef has long talked about her close relationship with her grandfather, to whom she credits, in part, her career in food. "We'd each make our own pizzas and I think, for me, that was the beginning of my love for food," De Laurentiis told SheKnows, speaking about her childhood memories with him.

Giada De Laurentiis went through a hard divorce

Giada De Laurentiis started dating her future husband Todd Thompson when the Food Network star was only 19 years old. De Laurentiis and Thompson were together for almost 25 years when the couple split in 2015. Their relationship withstood a lot, including De Laurentiis attending college and culinary school, and having her first big break on the Food Network — before the couple was even married. Unfortunately, their relationship only survived 11 years of marriage.

In a statement on Facebook, De Laurentiis announced her split from Thompson, writing "Although our decision to separate comes with a great deal of sadness, our focus on the future and overwhelming desire for our family's happiness has given us the strength to move forward on separate, yet always connected paths." Although the exact reason for their divorce is unknown, many have speculated that it has something to do with De Laurentiis' busy work schedule, or even with Thompson feeling overshadowed by his wife. In an interview with Redbook magazine in 2011, De Laurentiis said, "I think it can be hard for any man to sometimes be upstaged by his wife." 

While De Laurentiis adamantly insists that any rumors about her affairs are false, the strain they put on her family cannot have been negligible. The couple share one daughter, Jade, who turned 15 in 2023. Despite the challenges of navigating separate paths, the pair remains committed to co-parenting and ensuring Jade's happiness remains a priority.

Giada De Laurentiis went 8 months without speaking to her best friend, Bobby Flay

Giada De Laurentiis and celebrity chef Bobby Flay met at a food convention in Philadelphia in 2004, and have been friends since — give or take a few months. The pair has appeared on several Food Network shows together, competing on "Iron Chef America" and hosting "Food Network Star" for 10 seasons. De Laurentiis said that Flay is "one of those people that if you are his friend, he has your back forever, and he will stand up for you," according to People.

A television show initiated their one big feud. In 2006, Flay and De Laurentiis teamed up to compete against Mario Batali and Food Network chef Rachael Ray on "Iron Chef America." Unfortunately, the De Laurentiis-Flay team lost, and De Laurentiis took the loss hard. She was so upset, in fact, that she did not speak to Flay for 8 months afterward. "We lost and he thought it was funny," the chef said on the podcast Beyond the Plate. De Laurentiis explained that she took the competition very seriously and felt that Flay did not respect her attitude, treating the competition as somewhat of a joke. "He didn't say, 'Hey I'm sorry that we lost,' or 'Hey, you know we'll do it again,'" De Laurentiis said, showing her disappointment in her friend's actions, who she also said was being a "jerk."

She has been the subject of widespread internet hate

Being a celebrity always means being the subject of public scrutiny, and Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis is no exception. The chef has been the victim of some particularly bitter internet hate.

One instance of this vitriol happened when De Laurentiis posted a photo of herself enjoying a pasta dish in Italy wearing a huge, toothy smile. Comments from haters flooded in from everywhere mocking her teeth. According to Delish, people wrote remarks like "I had to count my teefs [sic] ... apparently I'm missing .....1000" and "Dental exam?" Luckily, fans rushed to De Laurentiis' defense, posting supportive comments such as, "Why do people feel the need to slander this woman? Amazing and talented chef who brings such relaxing and beautiful food to our lives. Let her be."

Another instance of hate for the Food Network chef occurred when her show replaced fellow Food Network chef Paula Deen's show. Deen was dropped by the Food Network after controversy over the celebrity chef using a racial slur. Fans of Deen's took to the internet to attack De Laurentiis, saying that the chef should come to Deen's defense. De Laurentiis did not get involved, and eventually commented on the matter saying, "Her shows got replaced by my shows, so we have a lot of people not happy with me right now, as if I had anything to do with it" (Access Hollywood via Daily Meal).