Zagat: Would you ever open your own restaurant? I'm sure you've had many offers over the years.
Giada: Over the years I have had many offers, but nothing that's really panned out. I am looking at something at this moment, but I'm not sure whether or not it will work itself out. It's not in LA. I always thought LA would be my first spot. This isn't far from it though, and it's not New York, so it's not that far. For me, it has to be the right project. It's got to allow it to really be a part of who I am rather than slapping my name on something, which is why I don't do very many endorsement deals. If it's the right deal, it'll happen.
Zagat: That's great. I know Anne Burrell told us recently she's looking into her own restaurant as well.
Giada: Well, Anne Burrell is a chef and she's actually had restaurants and worked in them extensively. The funny thing is someone like Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell started in restaurants and then got to TV, and I started the other way around. I worked for Wolfgang Puck in LA, I went to culinary school, but I had a private cheffing/catering business for a while before I ended up on TV. I've been on TV so long now - it's scary because a restaurant would be the first place where you can taste my food, so you open yourself up to a lot of criticism. The only way you can do that now is to make it, or if you go to Target and buy one of my products. And I'm a perfectionist.
Zagat: How has food TV changed since you started out?
Giada: When I started, there were a lot of chef shows on TV, guys wearing their chef whites. And I was sort of beginning the change along with Ina Garten, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen - those ladies aren't chefs. I am, so the female revolution started, and we started trying to cook for women, not for chefs. Emeril…those guys cooked for chefs, not really for the average person. And it become very accessible and fun. Cooking programs of that nature are starting to fade away. Although there's still a market for it, it's smaller than it was. People are looking for reality shows, lifestyle shows; they're looking to really get to know us as people. There are some of us that transcend just cooking and there are others of us that cannot. There are so many opportunities for cooks these days, it doesn't just have to be in a restaurant or on TV. There's writing, there's just so many different avenues. It's a field that's been flooded at this point, there's just so much going on. It's exciting and scary all at the same time. TV in general is changing so quickly and drastically. All I have to say is I feel very very lucky to be where I am and be in the position that I'm in.
Zagat: What's happening with your talk show with Bobby?
Giada: We've been working on a talk show. I think the talk show market is a little scary right now. I think that we will do something I'm just not sure how soon. It might be 2014 before we do. We enjoy working together, so we'll see. But yes we are working on something. We're very good friends. We've worked together a lot and we respect each other a lot as cooks. Talk shows are all about chemistry. We're very very different but also alike. It would be great if it works out, if it doesn't I'm sure we will find something else. I think it probably will...it's just a matter of time.
Zagat: You're such a mentor to contestants on Next Food Network Star. Did you have a lot of rookie moments when you first started on TV?
Giada: Every day of the first season of Everyday Italian was a rookie moment. I spent the whole time with my shoulder and my back to the camera - I was like, "Please don't look at me!"If I had to do what these contestants had to do on a reality show, I would never be where I am. The challenges we put them through are crazy. It'a more than just the cooking - it's seriously an emotional journey. It's a journey to figure out who the hell you are. A lot of people think it's an easy job, and then they get in front of the camera, and they don't know what to say or do because they don't know truly know who they are. You think you want to do this and then realize, oh, maybe I'm not cut out for this. Maybe I'm a really skilled cook but I can't cook worth sh*t. Or I'm a really good teacher but I can't cook. Or maybe I'm both, but I'm so insecure that I can't deliver so I think that's where it kind of goes.
Zagat: Would you ever want to cook another cuisine besides Italian?
Giada: I've been really into Thai ingredients lately. I just went to Thailand in December for Giada in Paradise. I'm fascinated with Japanese food, the intricacy, the detail and the color. Asian food and culture to me is just fascinating. It's not something I grew up with, so I have a real appreciation for it.