A Peek into the Life of Food Network Star Chef Giada De Laurentiis

  If you’re a fan of Food Network, there’s no way you don’t know the face of Giada De Laurentiis, the Italian chef and television personality who’s been cooking up sizzling, cheesy dishes for fans since 2003. But the star is so much more than her meal creations, which you’ll learn throughout this article.
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And even though she’s all smiles during filming, she deals with some genuine issues just like everyone else. But she’s pushed through it all to come out as one of the biggest names in the business. Here’s more on the life of Giada De Laurentiis…

Family Full of Stars

Fame isn’t new to Giada De Laurentiis. In fact, she grew up in a household full of professional entertainers, thanks to her mother and father, who worked as actors themselves.

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But the entertainment-bug went even further back to Giada’s grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis, who’s known for his incredible abilities as a producer in the past. But even though Giada is perfectly comfortable in front of the camera, she decided to pursue her own passions instead of following in the footsteps of mom and dad.

During Her Youth

Giada had zero interest in pursuing a career in Hollywood during her younger years. Perhaps it was due to watching mom and dad stress over lines and auditions, but she, like most teenagers, wanted to find herself and figure out a path that worked for her.

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The path she chose wound up taking her through the University of Central Los Angeles in the mid-1960s. When she was a kid and living with her parents, she was actually using a different name: Giada Pamela De Benedetti.

Battling Bullying

Like so many children, Giada found herself the target of harsh words and other forms of bullying by kids in her school when she first moved to the country. She was having a tough time because she didn’t speak much English and couldn’t communicate with her classmates very well.

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This led to her being called all sorts of mean nicknames and eating lunches on her lonesome. She found the strength within her family, who stood behind her and helped her overcome the negativity, and she’s praised them publicly numerous times for it.

Grandpa and Friend

Giada’s grandpa, Dino De Laurentiis, was famous long before the first time anyone saw his granddaughter cook up an amazing-looking Italian dish on TV. He was also one of the main people in her life who helped her deal with all of the bullying during her childhood. In the 1980s, he opened up a restaurant of his own: DSDL Foodshow in New York.

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Among the crowds who gathered to eat an array of food that spanned from pasta and pizzas to fully stuffed pigs and more, Giada found her true calling. Food is in her blood in more ways than one.

UCLA

People who know exactly what they want out of life before they’ve even headed off to college are lucky: they get a jump-start and can chip away at their life path from a young age. When Giada headed to UCLA, she knew that she had a passion for food, but she still wasn’t thinking of pursuing it as a full-time career.

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She knew she wanted to earn her degree and be successful in the future, but she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to major in. Thus, she started on her way to a degree in social anthropology.

Meeting Todd

Although she didn’t know where she wanted to head in the future yet, something – or someone – came along during her time at UCLA that caught her interest at the moment. Giada met Todd Thompson when she was a fresh-faced 19-year-old college student in California. Little did she know that, when the two started dating, it would lead to a decades-long relationship and so much more.

 

At school, like most students, they weren’t exactly dining on four-course meals. Date nights usually consisted of pizza or canned goods – the college diet! But there was plenty of amazing food in their future.

Changing Course

When Giada graduated from UCLA in the ‘90s, it was with a degree in anthropology. Still, she would always help out in her grandfather’s restaurant and just knew that was the career she wanted to pursue herself. So, after UCLA, she chose to apply to the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu chef’s academy – and she was accepted.

 

So, she packed her bags and made the move to Paris, where she would begin what would ultimately be her dream job. But moving to another country and diving into studying wouldn’t be an easy feat.

Pastries and Cuisine

Le Cordon Bleu offers several prestigious cooking courses for blossoming five-star chefs, but Giada chose to go with a course that led her to specialize in patisserie and cuisine. Basically, it means that she was trained in excellence in all sorts of sweet and savory dishes!

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The course, which is called Le Grand Diplome, provides classic chef training and pastry training. While you may think that being a part of this course means eating plenty of pastries and pasta, she wound up losing 10 pounds (the opposite of the Freshman 15?) during her studies.

Heading Back

Once she’d completed her training in the Le Grand Diplome at Le Cordon Bleu, it was time for her to return to Los Angeles. Now, she was armed with the schooling and skills she needed to succeed as a professional chef – but she probably had no idea that she would wind up becoming one of the most famous faces on the Food Network!

 

But first, she had to get her foot in the door in terms of working behind-the-scenes in fine dining establishments. And that’s exactly what happened when Wolfgang Puck adopted her as his mentee.

Getting Noticed

After she began working for Wolfgang Puck in his restaurant, Spago, she felt better, but she knew that there was still something missing in her life. She was on the right path, but she still had a way to go to create her perfect career.

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But when a Food Network executive noticed her in a magazine feature on her family, he made the call that would change her life forever. The executive thought that she would be not only a fabulous cook but also a great personality for the network – and boy, were they right!

Her First Show

The first venture that Giada had with the Food Network was her show, “Everyday Italian,” which premiered in 2003. The show focuses on sharing her updates to old family recipes and culinary secrets while showing viewers how to easily put together satisfying weeknight meals that can please two or an entire crowd.

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She has since described the first season as “horrible,” but only because she was so nervous to start filming! When they offered her the gig, she wasn’t initially thrilled. In fact, she turned it down before accepting. So what was it that changed her mind, then?

A Big Year

Giada certainly had a ton of stuff going on in 2003! Not only was she appearing on TV for the very first time in her own major network cooking show, but she was also making another serious change in her life. By that point, she and Todd Thompson had been together for a decade when they decided it was time to tie the knot.

 

Giada loved cooking him his favorite meals. Can you imagine having a professional chef around who likes to cook for you just to make you happy? Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase wouldn’t last forever.

Big Girls Don’t Cry

During one extraordinary episode of the cooking show “Iron Chef America,” Giada showed up to battle it out with fellow TV chef Bobby Flay. The two were thrilled to be cast into the project together since they were good friends – that is, until the show, anyway. Giada takes her cooking – and her competition – very seriously.

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Maybe, a little too seriously, since she refused to talk to Flay for over eight months after they lost against Rachael Ray and Mario Batali. She blamed her co-chef for the loss, and things went south fast.

Out of the Public Eye

It must be pretty hard to be a celebrity and have people all up in your business everywhere you go, no matter what you’re trying to do. This would be especially true when it comes to maintaining a romantic relationship, which takes an enormous amount of effort, even without the added stress of paparazzi and mobs of people.

 

That’s why Giada, like so many celebrities, tries her best to keep her private life private. She did just that during her relationship with Todd Thompson, but it wasn’t always easy.

Stage Fright

While Giada may be known for her incredible Italian cooking, her bubbly, wide smile is another of her trademarks. But she wasn’t always so comfortable on camera, and being so extroverted on camera wasn’t something that came easy to her at the beginning of her career on Food Network.

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She was so focused on her cooking and trying to think about what she said that she didn’t smile very much. Producers had to remind her to do so, no matter how she happened to be feeling during filming. She’s obviously grown much more comfortable in time.

Say Cheese

When you’re on TV regularly for a living, it’s important to maintain the image that you’re portraying. In Giada’s case, since she’s known for being warm and friendly, that means keeping a killer smile by making sure your pearly whites stay pearly white, which she does by using a teeth whitening solution.

 

She has a beauty routine that includes many natural, DIY treatments, including a face mask that she mixes up out of olive oil (for moisturizing) and baking soda for a bit of exfoliation. Whatever she does seems to be working; her skin always appears to be glowing!

Eating Her Creations

Giada doesn’t just love to cook up incredible Italian food, which oftentimes means delicious, carb-loaded dishes oozing with cheese and plenty of calories. And, while she may taste her creations, she probably isn’t going to eat a whole lot of any of them. In fact, the bites that you see her take on the show don’t really end up being swallowed at all.

 

She keeps a spit bucket nearby during filming, and after she takes the bite and chews for a while, all of that found winds up in the spit bucket. She does love desserts, though – especially chocolate cake.

Working Out

But how does she get away with eating cake and still stay fit? That’s easy. She keeps herself in shape by exercising regularly and eating in moderation. “I’ve had to take care of myself more rigorously,” she told “Shape” magazine. The main form of exercise Giada practices is yoga, which she really got into after her daughter’s birth.

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She wanted a nice way to stretch and just be active, but it wound up strengthening her muscles, and she started doing it more and more. Meditation is also a vital part of her self-care routine.

Taking the Cake

When the Food Network star does decide to enjoy a nice, moist slice of chocolate cake, she eats it a bit differently than most. Actually, the way she eats it sounds like it takes a lot of effort, and she says it’s “like a scavenger hunt.”

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She apparently eats all of the icing on the outside of it first thing and then peels off the cake layers and eats the icing layers in the middle. But for the most part, when the craving for sweets hits, she’ll try to reach for something a bit healthier and/or portion-controlled.

Working with Nicole Kidman

Throughout the course of Giada’s career as a famous TV personality and chef, she’s gotten to work alongside many other famous faces. For instance, this shot is a grab from an episode of the Ellen DeGeneres show on which she appeared with actress Nicole Kidman.

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Kidman and the host got to enjoy some of Giada’s focaccia bread, which she brought along with her. Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to enjoy it at all, given that she spits it out. Ouch. But Giada didn’t seem to mind since it had been sitting out for some time.

Food Styling

Do you ever wonder why food that you see in commercials and other places on television looks so incredible, but when you try and make the same thing at home, the aesthetics just aren’t quite up to par (even though it may taste amazing)?

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That’s because food stylists are working behind the scenes with your favorite TV chefs to make the food look as photo and video worthy as humanly possible. Sometimes, however, this means leaving your chicken a bit undercooked – which Al Roker wasn’t aware of when he bit into one of her creations on the ” Today Show.”

Cooking for Royals

Giada has traveled worldwide, serving up her amazing dishes to people, including many famous ones, from coast to coast. But perhaps one of her favorite memories of her time as a TV chef is during 2011 when she was invited to cook for Prince William and Kate Middleton, not long after the two tied the knot in their royal wedding.

 

Unfortunately for the prince, he was busy playing a polo match when the food was served – but she made sure to cook something up special for him when he was done.

Jade De Laurentiis

It’s hard to believe that Giada’s daughter is a teenager considering it feels like she was just a baby a few blinks ago. Giada and designer Todd Thompson had Jade in 2008, an experience which Giada says she’s thrilled she’s gone through with, but not one she plans to do again.

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These days, Jade spends time with mom and dad separately, for the most part, since their past divorce. The two still work pretty well together when it comes to parenting their beautiful daughter.

The Split

Although Giada and Todd Thompson were together for more than a decade and created Jade during that time, the marriage wouldn’t last longer than 11 years. Ultimately, they decided to break things off, and their divorce was finalized back in 2015.

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The two are still civil with one another, as they’d have to be for their daughter’s sake, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some rough patches when it came to the breakup. Todd wound up getting the rights to half of her cookbook advances and a whole lot more during the split.

By Design

Even without the help of his ex-wife, Todd Thompson continues to do just fine for himself as a designer for several high-profile people and events. He actually designed the chefs’ coats that are used in his ex’s Las Vegas-based restaurant. These days, he continues to operate as both a designer and a manufacturer.

 

He’s not only doing well in the job department but if you take a look at his social media feed, you’ll also see plenty of pictures of him enjoying life with his new girlfriend. The two have vacationed worldwide, and it seems as though Jade likes her, too!

A Rumored Affair

During the breakup, all sorts of nasty rumors about Giada were circulating on the internet. Not only was she said to have had a relationship outside of her marriage, but she had actually had several. Some of the rumors even suggested that she’d been getting together with fellow Food Network star Bobby Flay.

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There were even reports that she had been out partying with him the night before she and Todd announced their divorce in 2014. But the rumors didn’t stop there.

The List Goes On

Giada has denied all of the rumors about her extra-marital affairs, but that doesn’t stop the public – and the media – from speculating. In 2011, the tabloids hit the ground running with stories of a fling between the Food Network star and Matt Lauer.

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Both parties swore that nothing was going on between them, but it was taking a toll on Giada to have all of these outlandish claims flying around out there. She knew that she had to do something to defend herself and clear everything up.

Coming Clean

The TV chef decided to talk about what had happened between her and her ex-husband since the media had convinced everyone that they’d split up due to her having numerous affairs. But according to Giada, that’s not what happened at all. According to her, the two grew apart because of her growing success.

 

He liked feeling like he had the upper hand in the relationship, and the two just weren’t the same people that they were when they’d gotten together decades before. Of course, he probably won’t admit to the former if asked.

Lots of Love

Although Giada and Todd are no longer together, it doesn’t hurt their relationship with daughter Jade. That’s mainly because they’ve both made sure to prioritize her and her feelings throughout her life since the divorce.

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Jade has gotten to travel worldwide and enjoy all kinds of fun activities with her mom and her dad, both together and separately. And, since she’s grown up with a professional chef, she’s developed quite a passion for cooking herself, which is very evident by everything she’s up to these days.

Mini-Me

Since Jade has spent a lot of her childhood hanging around Giada when she’s at her restaurant or filming a show, she’s decided that she has quite a passion for food and for cooking herself. But not only that, she’s even developed her mom’s abilities for being on camera, which she put to use in her own cooking show that she posted online recently called ” How to Hack it With Jade .”

 

Maybe she’ll keep following along in mom’s footsteps, like the ones that led her to become the first female chef to open her own restaurant on the Vegas strip.

GIADA

Giada’s Vegas-based Italian restaurant, GIADA, sits inside of The Cromwell Hotel on the Vegas strip. Depending on which source you look at, it’s rated anywhere between 4.3 and 4.6 stars, the latter of which is what Google currently says, based on over 13,000 reviews.

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One of the guest favorites seems to be the breadbasket, stuffed with warm, homemade focaccia and crunchy lavish. She also offers various gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options for those who adhere to specific diets. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is important in a city that runs 24/7.

Hall of Fame

Whether you love or hate Giada, there’s no denying that she’s one of the best chefs on TV these days. And, those who have dined in her restaurants would probably agree that she’s just one of the best in general.

 

That’s why, in 2012, she was welcomed into the Culinary Hall of Fame, which is an incredibly prestigious honor among those in the industry. The award is handed down from the American Academy of Chefs, which operates throughout the country and recognizes the best in the business.

Pasta Surprise

You may be shocked to know that one of Giada’s favorite ingredients to add to pasta is – wait for it – chocolate. And, while this may sound like the one dish that actually belongs in the spit bucket, she actually eats this one. In fact, she has one of her recipes up on Food Network’s website that’s for Chocolate Fettuccini with Peas and Pancetta.

 

While it sounds absolutely disgusting, it’s actually rated five stars (out of five reviews,) but, considering she’s an expert in delicious Italian cuisine, perhaps it’s something that’s worth a shot (maybe minus the peas, though.)

A Gourmet Staple

If you watch a lot of cooking shows, and/or you’re a major foodie yourself, you’re probably pretty familiar with truffles. Truffles are a kind of edible fungus, just like mushrooms. Some are harder to find in the wild than others, which makes them more sought after by chefs trying to impress luxury clients.

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Black truffles hail from France, while white truffles come from Italy, and both are pretty highly valued. Giada, however, doesn’t appreciate them being infused into everything and thinks they should be savored.

Pizza Pies

There’s no denying that Italian chefs make the absolute best pizza, that’s for sure. Of course, they’d have to, right? Giada loves pizza, as does Jade, which makes it a popular course at home, especially since it can be done so quickly and easily, and Jade can help out. One of her favorite ways to enjoy the dish is a simple Margherita pizza.

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She also likes to make mini versions that she calls “pizzettes,” which she tops with roasted mushroom and kale for a unique flavor. And of course, she makes her famous ricotta and chocolate-hazelnut calzones.

On the Road

Giada is used to having a well-stocked, fully functional, and large kitchen at her disposal when it comes to whipping up her tasty dishes. So when she has to travel around, she’s not a huge fan of the choices of snacks and meals.

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Like most people, she isn’t a big fan of the food that’s served on airplanes, so she packs some of her own for the road instead. Trail mix made with different types of nuts, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips is one of her favorite things to pack, and it keeps Jade happy, too.

Mangia!

She may spit out a lot of her pasta on the show, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy a big bowl of spaghetti now and then – especially her lemon spaghetti, served with arugula and parmesan salad. That’s her absolute favorite dish, and she loves to whip it up for her and Jade.

 

It’s quick and easy, which makes it perfect for busy weeknights. And afterward? They follow it up with her famous lemon ricotta cookies. If you’re a lemon lover, you’ll want to find her recipes as soon as possible and give them a try!

Traveling

As a world-famous chef and TV star, you get to travel all over the world and experience a variety of things that most people will only ever dream of. But of all of the places, Giada has been, Italy is her favorite. As she describes it, her dream trip starts in Rome, since it’s where her family lives.

 

She heads to Gelateria De Neri in Florence for some of their espresso gelatos and heads to Sicily and Naples’ outskirts, an area she says is underrated. Her favorite hotel is called Monteverdi in the hills of Tuscany.

Pasta Factories

Apparently, Giada’s grandfather’s parents made pasta and sauces to sell when he was a kid, too. His siblings would go door to door, selling to neighbors and others in the area. “That whole area was all pasta factories, but when I say ‘factory,’ you can’t think of the factory the way you think of a factory in Detroit,” she told the “New York Times.”

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She continued, “Think of a building, and in part of the building, they make pasta all day. They hang it on the roof, okay? Like on clotheslines. And then they live in that same building. There are blocks and blocks of that.”

Saying Goodbye

The early ‘00s were a busy time for Giada, but not all of the stress was work-related. Tragedy struck in 2003, when her brother, Dino Alexander De Laurentiis, passed away from melanoma. The two were extremely close, so she was devastated by the news. “He was the person I turned to for everything,” she said during an interview with “ET.”

 

She keeps her brother’s memory alive by visiting a special spot in Los Angeles that overlooks the ocean, which he used to do all of the time before his passing. Giada even had a bench placed there in his honor.

Children’s Show

Giada may be great on camera, but that doesn’t mean she has any interest in acting, as she would prefer just to be herself. That being said, in 2019, she finally agreed to take on a new role in the animated series “Handy Manny,” starring Wilmer Valderrama.

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The Food Network star plays the role of Paulette, the owner of the pizzeria Paulette’s Pizza Palace. Manny enlists her help to fix an automatic pizza rolling machine in the bubbly children’s TV episode. That’s not the first time she’s geared her performances towards kids, either.

Authoring a Children’s Series

Taking on the voice role in the animated series Handy Manny felt like enough adventure for Giada when acting. But over the years, she’s also explored another avenue that helps her connect with a younger audience, which is authoring a series of books for children called “Recipe for Adventure.”

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The book series follows a young protagonist named Zia as she travels all around the world, trying different types of cuisines from continent to continent. The Food Network star traveled herself to book signings for fans across the country.

The Rumor Mill

In 2014, when Giada had announced that she and Todd were splitting up, the rumors that were circulating were plenty, and old ones started to be talked about again. According to the media, she was having an array of flings with everyone from co-stars on Food Network to high-profile musicians.

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One such musician included John Mayer, which she’d been rumored to be having a fling with all the way back in 2009. It wasn’t just one source, but rather several that speculated a relationship between them. “Star” magazine alleged they’d had a “steamy hookup” at one hotel in New York.

Raking in the Dough

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Giada’s current worth is somewhere around $30 million, thanks to her wide variety of income streams. Since she first got started in the business, she’s been a favorite and has become a staple in the industry.

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She still trails behind the ultimate highest-paid Food Network star, the infamous Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay is said to have a net worth of nearly $220 million. Still, Giada’s TV appearances, books, and restaurants provide a nice income that allows her and her family a comfortable life.

Finally, Filing the Restraining Order

The year 2019 was pretty big for Giada. One major thing that happened was that she finally filed for a restraining order against a crazed fan that had been terrorizing her life for over five years. The man started by sending frequent messages through her website, which, over time, became more and more personal and harassing.

 

At one point, the man even claimed he believed he was Jade’s father and showing up at appearances. Unfortunately, she nor her attorney showed up at the hearing for the restraining order, so it was dismissed.

A New Man

Giada met producer Shane Farley back in 2015. When the two started dating, she said they felt an incredible spark and that he made her feel “like a kid again.” Farley has won awards for his work behind-the-scenes on television, including working with huge stars like Wayne Brady and Tyra Banks, along with another big TV chef – Rachael Ray.

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Now, he’s doing something that hits a little closer to home – or, much, much closer. He’s helping to produce Giada’s new show, which is filmed at their house.

The Birthday Girl

Giada’s love for her daughter, Jade, grows as much as she does every day. She’s recently turned 12, though it seems like she was just an infant in her mother’s arms yesterday.

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For her birthday in 2019, she posted a throwback picture of her eating cake, while her lifestyle site, Giadzy, posted, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our favorite little sous chef & youngest Team Giadzy member, Jade! Happy big 11, and welcome to official preteen status.” She and mom truly cherish each other’s company, and they make a great team.

Giada at Home

In 2008, Giada launched her show, “Giada at Home,” where she cooks up California-style dishes for friends and family. Many of the episodes were filmed in her own kitchen, though some were filmed on location at places like the beach. In 2020 show’s name changed to “Giada at Home 2.0” and involved many extra responsibilities on her part.

 

For instance, she’s used to having a makeup artist get her ready for filming, but that’s something that’s fallen into her own hands. Luckily, she’s handling everything just beautifully!

Closer Than Ever

The Food Network star says that hunkering down with her boyfriend of five years, Shane Farley, has only brought the two closer together than they were before. “I think it’s made us stronger. Truly,” she told “People” magazine. “I think that’s what sometimes happens in these things. You either become stronger, or you start to say like, ‘ah, I can’t do this. So it’s been fun.”

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Giada says that the entire thing has been a bonding experience, both with Shane and Jade, and they’ve enjoyed the extra time together. Jade seems to have enjoyed having mom around more, too.

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