That gorgeous Italian import Giada de Laurentiis knows her way
around the ktichen may not come as a surprise, but the fact that
she struggles with the same bittersweet parenting issues all of us
The Food Network star and Emmy award-winning host graced Chicago
with her good looks, gastronomy and groceries last week in
celebration of Target's redesign of 55 area stores, her latest
cookbook, Giada at Home, and her own line of exclusive
products for the chain, including pasta sauces and flavored coffee
to kitchen essentials like stainless steel cookware, ceramic bake
ware and nylon tools, all designed with the at-home cook in
Strolling arm in arm with Giada through the Tribune Plaza was
like gabbing with an old, impossibly beautiful friend who knows
exactly what it's like to be a working mother who bakes up savory
(veggie-loaded) foods in cupcake form for little little ones you
just don't want to let go... but do.
How has motherhood changed you?
Nothing like a loaded question to kick things
I don't even know where to start or when to start. It's changed
me in many, many ways.
It's changed me in the sense that I really think about the work
I do, and how often I leave home, and what kind of deals I sign,
and all that kind of good stuff.
And, it's also changed the way I cook. As I think any mother
would know, you have less and less time for yourself, so as much as
I like to cook, sometimes I have to make it really quick so that I
can feed both Jade and my husband. So, I think it's changed my
cooking style, my lifestyle.
Teaming up with Target was partly because of Jade in the sense
that I found that you really do need a quick and easy way to feed
your family. Healthy, delicious ways to feed your family that are
affordable and convenient.
All of those together are how I've changed.
I can definitely identify with you there. I have two
kids under the age of five, a husband who comes home hungry at the
end of the day, and love to cook, but have to keep streamlined
quickness in mind at all times.
What is the best piece of parenting advice that's been
handed down in your family?
I think that the most important thing to me is that parents do
the best they can at mixing up the meals for the kids, keeping it
interesting, and trying to cook fresh food.
I think what has become more and more convenient are places like
Target, especially in the Chicago area, where they've redesigned 55
of their stores, in that they carry fresh produce, meat, and baked
I can run in there and get diapers and some cleaning supplies
and maybe a pair of tennis shoes… for some reason in preschool, my
daughter is just destroying her tennis shoes. I feel like I'm
always buying her new shoes, and she's growing out of everything so
quickly that every time I go get her dressed I'm like, 'No way!
This fit you yesterday and now today it doesn't fit you?'
So I'm always feeling like I need to go and grab her new things,
sweatshirts, shirts whatever, and then I can also pick up a pound
of ground beef, some chicken and a head of lettuce, some bananas,
some eggs, just the basics to get you through the week. Having
Target do that has made it more convenient to buy fresh produce,
which I think is so important in this day and age to really help
our children eat better and learn to eat better.
Now that Jade is in preschool, do you find yourself
wanting to hold on to her babyhood? How do you deal with letting
Before they go to preschool, you can really control everything
about them. You can control their friends, you can control what
they eat, you can control just about everything. Then they go to
preschool and little by little you lose them a little bit.
But, I think that she's growing up, and I have to let her grow
up. It's a very hard thing I think for parents to let your children
make their own decisions and let them grow up.
It's also been a lot of fun and very rewarding to watch her -
everything about her grow, from her ability to talk… now she tells
stories. I just feel like her whole world is opening up, and she's
seeing all new things that she's never seen before. It's like going
from seeing in black and white to seeing in color.
Agreed. My son is in preschool, too, and he takes the
bus on his own and has his own social life and social calendar at
school, away from me. And that was hard at first, and I was scared
and nervous, but at the same time, watching that happen and unfold
is so exciting for me as a parent. It's a part of the mommy
experience to let them go, even when you don't really want to but
And I think for us it's detaching a little bit. We've been so
attached for the first two or three years, and then suddenly you
have to let go, and that's a really hard thing to do. Plus, women
love children when they need them.
We love it when they need us. So when they don't as much anymore
it's like, 'No! This can't be happening.' I think it's a growing
process. Not just for the kids, but for the parents as well.
Tell me, what do you like to do together as a family
when you're all together and have some downtime to just enjoy each
Well, what do you think I'm going to say?
Does it start with a a C?
We love to cook together.
It's super cute, because the first week of school, when Jade was
going to preschool, a lot of the kids, especially the little boys,
were having trouble leaving their mommies, and they would cry, in
the room, and at our preschool, they allow you to spend five
minutes with them, then say your goodbyes… so the parents would all
leave, and the teacher would tell me that Jade would see the crying
child, and basically go to the kitchen, they have a little section
that's a play kitchen, she would make them a plate of pasta, bring
it to them and say, 'Look! I made you some pasta. I think you'll
feel better now.'
That is her way to make the children feel better, by cooking,
and obviously I think that comes from spending so much time in the
kitchen with me, and that's what's fun for us.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.
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