The Brutal Way Giada De Laurentiis Studied Cooking

If you know Giada De Laurentiis from shows like Food Network's Everyday Italian and the discovery+ series Bobby and Giada in Italy or by dining at one of her restaurants, like GDL Italian in Baltimore, you may be surprised to learn that the chef who is so well known for her Italian cooking expertise earned a lot of her cooking chops from a school renowned for teaching — not Italian — but French cuisine (via Giada De Laurentiis's website). Though spending time in the kitchen of her grandfather's food store may have fostered an early love of cooking, she attended college at UCLA and earned a degree in anthropology before ultimately focusing on a career in the kitchen. After graduating, she decided to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

When De Laurentiis moved to Paris, it was her first time living alone, and it was a doozy! Not only had she never lived all by herself before, but she had also never done her own laundry. She would take care of her dirty clothes on Sundays, her only day off, lugging all of her sullen chef whites to the laundromat. Of course, the institute required the uniforms to be crisp, so De Laurentiis also had to learn how to iron. De Laurentiis told Eater that she lost 10 pounds as a result of all the stress from this period. "I couldn't eat, sleep, I was so...I didn't speak French, the classes were in French...I don't know what I was thinking. The whole time."

Giada De Laurentiis was lonely in the City of Light

De Laurentiis didn't know anyone in Paris when she first moved there, and not being able to speak the language didn't help the situation. According to First We Feast, this made for a difficult first year. One class, in particular, helped magnify the situation.

In a pastry class, students, including De Laurentiis, would make 20–25 croissants and take them home with them to share with their friends and family. Apparently, since De Laurentiis didn't know anyone, she would end up taking all the croissants home to her lonesome abode. She would then spend her evenings picking out the dark chocolate from each croissant to have for dinner. "That is how I spent many a night in Paris, in my one-room apartment, and how I realized I drown my sorrows in my food." You know it's bad when you have no one to share your free pastries with!

De Laurentiis put in even more grueling kitchen time after she left Paris. She spent two-and-a-half years at the Ritz Carlton "basically cutting my fingers open from opening lobsters" (via Eater). Though it must have been tough at the time, all her hard work has certainly paid off. After all, her studies, ambition, and challenges in the kitchen helped forge the impressive career she has today.