The Unknown Life Of Chef Superstar Giada De Laurentiis

A few years ago, the tabloids went wild over rumors surrounding Giada De Laurentiis and her split from fashion designer Todd Thompson. People came up with their own malicious theories on the split, without having a clue what was going on behind closed doors.

Giada handled the scandal with dignity, grace and a healthy amount of her favorite comfort food – spagetti and chocolate! Above all though, the star kept on smiling. Behind that dazzling smile, however, lies all sorts of secrets.

Read on to find out about the private life of chef superstar Giada De Laurentiis, the turbulent path that lead her to where she is now, and her reaction to the recent rumors about her.

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A Family of Film Stars

Giada was born in Rome to the Italian actress Veronica De Laurentiis. Her father was the actor and producer Alex De Benedetti.

Given that both her parents had successful careers in the foreign film industry, it was expected that she would follow in their footsteps. The family tradition of working in film went back even further. Her grandfather was Dino De Laurentiis, the producer who helped popularize Italian cinema internationally. It seemed natural for Giada to have a young passion for acting. But she did not.

A Family of Film Stars

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Teenage Dreams

Unlike most high school students, Giada De Laurentiis did not crave fame. Instead, she dreamed of being a chef. Her aim was definitely not to become a TV personality.

Her parents advised that she take some time to think about what she wants to do rather than jumping straight into the family business. They told her: “You can’t possibly know what you want to do so why don’t you buy yourself some time?”

Giada took her parent’s advice on board and enrolled at UCLA, where she graduated with a degree in Social Anthropology in 1996. By the time she finished though, she was even more clueless about her future.

Teenage Dreams

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Kids Can Be Cruel

In the 1970s, Giada moved to Southern California following her parents’ divorce. The change was a big one and she, along with her siblings, had to leave all their friends behind in Italy.

When she arrived to America, Giada did not speak any English and the other children were quick to pick up on this. They called her names and nicknamed her “Jabba the Hutt”, a cruel play on her name “Giada”.

Giada found sanctuary at her grandfather’s restaurant, DDL Foodshow. Her grandfather helped her to overcome the bullies that surrounded her.

Kids Can Be Cruel

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Social Anthropology

It was at her grandfather’s restaurant that Giada discovered her passion for cooking. She developed a deep love of food though she was unsure whether it was a hobby or a career prospect.

This uncertainty is why her family encouraged her to go to college before making any decisions. Admirably, Giada paid her own way through school. When she graduated though, she was unsure whether social anthropology was the right fit for her. Perhaps it was time to dip her toes into the family business?

Social Anthropology

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Meeting Todd Thompson

Social Anthropology may have been the wrong career choice for Giada, but her decision to study at UCLA would still be a significant part of her journey.

It was here that she met her future husband Todd Thompson, when Giada was just 19-years-old. Todd would also go on to become a TV personality but at the time, he had no interest in cooking or fame. In fact, Giada pretty much taught him everything he knows about cooking.

She once said: “My husband was used to opening cans — Chef Boyardee, frozen food, whatever. He didn’t know much about cooking, bless his soul.”

Being with Giada for 20 years, he managed to pick up a few tips. But more on that later.

Meeting Todd Thompson

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Le Cordon Bleu

After weighing up her options, Giada decided to allow her passion for food to guide her career. She applied to a highly competitive culinary school and her parents both agreed that she was on the right path.

To her amazement, Giada was accepted into the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu. Once again, the recent graduate prepared to up and leave life as she knew it and moved to Paris. She could not have anticipated what lay in store for her there.

Le Cordon Bleu

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Stressful Times

Giada arrived in Paris and was excited to start her studies at Le Cordon Bleu. When school started, however, she began to doubt whether she had made the right decision. She recalled: “I don’t know what I was thinking. The whole time. What was I thinking in this life because I am not that person.”

Giada became very stressed and lost 10 pounds as a result. She was once again living in a country where she could not speak the language and she found herself craving home. The only thing that kept her going was the profound love of cooking she carried.

Stressful Times

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Gaining a Reputation

By the time Giada completed her culinary studies, she was ready to move back to Los Angeles. She was ready to prove to herself and her doubters that she had made the right decision by going to Paris.

Giada found work in a couple of restaurants and began to build a reputation as a talented worker. Eventually, she was hired as a chef at Spago, which is owned by the world-famous celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. It was here that Giada truly proved herself to be a capable chef.

Nonetheless, Giada still had her own doubts that she was on the right path.

Gaining a Reputation

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Spotted By Food Network

Giada craved a change of scene and transitioned from her work as a chef to working as a food stylist for food magazines. Eventually, she landed a job working for Food & Wine Magazine.

She was happy enough here but her career was far from settled. In 2002, a Food Network executive spotted Giada and insisted she tape an on-camera demo. The demo impressed and shortly after, a series called Everyday Italian was launched by the network. And it starred Giada.

Giada recalled her anxiety at the time: “I think I just wasn’t open enough; I wasn’t secure enough.”

Spotted By Food Network

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Proving Them Wrong

Once the series launched, people’s comments started flooding in. Critics teased that the network had brought in a model or actress rather than a real qualified chef. This was Giada’s chance to prove them wrong.

As the series progressed, Giada became one of the top chefs in the culinary world. Everyday Italian was a big hit for the network and in 2005, a ghostwriter helped her release a cookbook. The book was a hit and quickly reached the top of the best seller lists.

Proving Them Wrong

Screenshot from ” Everyday Italian”

Everything is Wonderful

Not only was Giada becoming an instant hit, things were blossoming in her personal life as well. By this point, her and Todd had already been together for nearly a decade. It was about time they tied the knot.

When Todd eventually proposed, Giada said yes and in 2003, the couple were finally married. During their relationship, Giada admitted she used food to show him how much she cared. She often made him home-cooked meals as a way of saying “I love you.”

Everything is Wonderful

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Friction With Flay

This was a pretty good time for everyone’s favorite Italian TV star. Giada’s career on the network blossomed and Everyday Italian rose to the top of everyone’s radar. She made several appearances on other food shows including Behind the Bash, Pixie Hollow Bake Off and competed on Iron Chef America alongside fellow network chef Bobby Flay.

Giada and Flay were close friends and co-hosted on Food Network Star. During their time on Iron Chef America, however, friction started to develop.

Being a passionate chef, Giada was disappointed in their loss while Flay “thought it was funny.” The friction led them to take an eight month hiatus from their friendship before they eventually made up.

Friction With Flay

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Too Much Attention

Most celebrities will learn at one point or another that being famous is not all fun and games. There is a downside to reaching celebrity status. As a result, both Todd and Giada preferred to keep their relationship out of the lime light but unfortunately had little success.

Giada found herself harassed by fans who felt like they knew her. They would rush up to her and gush which might be fine for some, but Giada does not like attention. She once said: “I wish I could say no touchy-touchy.”

Nevertheless, Giada puts on a smile, although behind her friendly grin lies a secret.

Too Much Attention

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Whatever Happens… Smile

Giada’s bright beam is one of her trademarks. Surprisingly, it doesn’t actually come naturally for her and she started out feeling very uneasy in front of the camera.

Giada recalled: “In the beginning it was very intimidating.”

Her producer Irene Wong insisted that she smile through everything, even if she didn’t want to. If she lifts something heavy – she smiles. If she accidentally burns herself – she smiles. Whatever happens, Giada has to smile and so the star got pretty good at hiding her real feelings.

Whatever Happens... Smile

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Resourceful Beauty Queen

There is another secret behind Giada’s award-winning smile – tooth whitener. She stores it in her fridge and uses it to keep her smile looking perfect at all times.

In addition to tooth whitener, Giada keeps a homemade face mask in her kitchen. She mixes baking soda and olive oil to moisturize her skin and fight blemishes. In fact, most of her concoxions are made out of ordinary food that can be found in any kitchen. Talk about being resourceful.

Resourceful Beauty Queen

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A Celebrity Chef Diet

Giada may be an excellent chef but she watches what she eats. She takes care to avoid fattening foods and has made fitness a big part of her life.

This is why Giada is able to stay in excellent shape despite working on cooking shows. She once confessed that she keeps dark chocolate in her fridge and her handbags so that she can easily cure her cravings for something sweet. On set, she tucks into a salad and she very rarely eats the type of food she is seen cooking on her show.

A Celebrity Chef Diet

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The Designated Dump Bucket

According to a spokesperson for the Food Network star, Giada “Never eats. Never… They have a dump bucket that is brought out the second they cut.”

The spokesperson went on to explain that this is because Giada is making multiple meals throughout the day. There is no way that she could eat all those meals, even if she wasn’t watching what she ate. Reportedly, the shots of the star taking a bite are actually sneaky editing so she doesn’t have to actually eat.

The Designated Dump Bucket

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Substitute Tasters

Pasta is OK to eat in moderation but too much of anything can become problematic. Being an Italian chef, Giada cooks a lot of pasta but she cannot realistically indulge in all those taste tests while sticking to her health and fitness goals.

Consequently, Giada has staff that stand in when a taste test is due. What an awesome job, right? These shots are always done as close ups so no one watching can tell that a different woman is eating the pasta. Other times though, it goes straight in the dump bucket.

Substitute Tasters

Screenshot from “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”

Absolutely Mortified

Back in the early days of her career, Giada was invited to cook for Al Roker on the Today Show. Given that she was once a food stylist, Giada knows how to make a dish look good on camera. This time round, making the dish look good meant keeping the chicken a little raw. Unfortunately, no one warned Al Roker that this was the plan.

When Al Rocker went in to take a bite, Giada recalls: “I just froze, my entire body and mind froze. It’s those terrifying moments that end up being the things that can chance your career.”

Fortunately for her, Al was understanding and Giada had the chance to redeem herself.

Absolutely Mortified

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Fit For Royalty

After years in the business, Giada learned that she had no reason to be nervous on camera. In 2008, she won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lifestyle Host. This is an admirable win but for Giada, there is another moment which stands out as a career highlight.

When Prince William and Kate Middleton came to California, the celebrity chef had the honor of cooking for them. She heard that the prince had once tried to make lasagna for his wife and had failed dismally. This inspired Giada to make the dish for the couple and it went down a treat.

Fit For Royalty

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Giada and Jade

After five years of marriage, Todd and Giada had their first and only daughter together, who they named “Jade”. The name “Giada” means “jade” in Italian and this is where the inspiration came from.

Giada cherishes the time she spends with her daughter and feels happy having just one child. Being a mom is hard work and having Jade means she has to schedule her work and travels carefully so that she can still spend time with her daughter.

No matter what troubles lay ahead for her and Todd, she would always be grateful to him for giving her a beautiful daughter.

Giada and Jade

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Decision to Separate

Six years after welcoming Jade into the world, the couple decided that they would be better apart. They kept their decision to separate to themselves but eventually announced the split on Facebook in 2014.

Giada stated that the separation would be amicable and that her focus would be on keeping her family happy. She explained that their decision came from “the overwhelming desire for their family’s happiness has given them the strength to move forward on separate, yet always connected paths.”

Decision to Separate

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Todd Needed a New Job

Between 2008 and 2014, Todd had appeared in 62 episodes of Giada’s TV show, Giada at Home. He had also designed the chef coasts at her restaurant in Las Vegas.

When they separated, Todd was subsequently in need of a new job. He has always had a passion for fashion and so he pursued his career in the fashion industry. Now, he works for Anthropologie

and other big fashion brands.

With his new job and high-profile separation, he has an estimated net worth of $8 million.

Todd Needed a New Job

Image by Todd Thompson/ Twitter

Never Say Never

Once the couple’s separation became public knowledge, rumors that Giada had an affair started to circulate. Giada adamantly and firmly denied these lies.

At the time, one of her producers, Shane Farley, was going through a divorce as well. They were able to support one another and soon their friendship blossomed into something more.

Giada struggled with her separation but she did not give up on love. She told sources that she is open to the idea of love and repeated the phrase: “I’m never going to say never”.

Never Say Never

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Did Giada Date Matt Lauer?

It was also rumored that Giada was dating former Today host Matt Lauer in 2011. They were evidently spotted on Barbados together — and many suspected this meant they were more than friends. Giada denied all of these rumors. While she Lauer were friends, she assured her fans that they were only hanging out and no further speculation was necessary.

Lauer denied those rumors as well.

Did Giada Date Matt Lauer?

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Giada’s Explanation

While Todd has been notoriously quiet about the couple’s separation, Giada has claimed that part of the relationship’s demise was a result of her not being able to give him the attention she once showered him with.

In 2011, she told Redbock: “I think it can be hard for any man to sometimes be upstaged by his wife. So when I’m home, I work very hard to be Todd’s wife and Jade’s mother.

“I try to be Giada, the young girl that he met 20 years ago and fell in love with. All men want to be treated like kings in a relationship, and I think if women don’t indulge that sometimes, their men are likely to stray and look for someone who can give that to them.”

Giada's Explanation

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Family First

Ultimately though, the experience reminded Giada that nothing is more important than family. She has always been passionate about cooking and her career but Giada is more focused than ever on her daughter and her happiness.

She claims: “I still work a lot, but I’m a lot pickier than I used to be. And simply because I want to be with Jade.”

Jade appreciates the time she spends with her mother and who knows? Perhaps Jade too will follow in her mother, grandmother and great-grandfather’s footsteps.

Family First

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Handling Criticism

One thing Jade and her mother have in common is a love of food. Jade spends her free time in Giada’s new restaurant, just as Giada had spent her teen days in her grandfather’s food joint.

As the first woman to open a restaurant on the strip in Las Vegas, Giada is a true role model for aspiring female chefs. Even more inspiringly, Giada has learned to take criticism in her stride.

When criticism sparked following the opening of her eponymous restaurant, Giada admitted: “I spent two days bawling my eyes out.” Following the initial disappointment though, her strength and experience enabled her to overcome the negativity of those around her.

Handling Criticism

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Inspiring Attitude

Giada reminds her fans that it is important to be confident in one’s own abilities. She said: “We open ourselves up to those critics. I feel like I have my iconic dishes, my restaurant does really well, I do my best to deliver great service and great food and that is the job that I have.”

As a result of her attitude, Giada found herself able to rise above criticism. Being a TV personality, it is something you have to get used to. She also wants anyone who made fun of her accent to know that she is pronouncing those Italian words right. It’s us that’s pronouncing them wrong.

Inspiring Attitude

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Doing Something Right

People often mocked Giada for the way she pronounces the word “spaghetti”. She “over-prounches” the middle syllable so it sounds like “spi-GHE-tee”. As it turns out, it’s everyone else that is saying it wrong and Giada is fed up of people making fun of her for pronouncing it properly.

If ever Giada does find herself filled with self-doubt, all she needs to do is glance over her culinary successes. In 2012, she was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame and you can’t really get more reassurance than that that you are doing something right!

Doing Something Right

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A Surprising Favorite

Giada may take pride in her appearance and look after her body but she doesn’t deny herself altogether. She has a soft spot for one of her favorite childhood dishes and she occasionally likes to indulge in the comfort food.

Although the star is renowned for cooking many remarkable dishes, her favorite food is actually spaghetti with melted chocolate! She confesses: “Once in a blue moon, I’ll still have it.”

And before you turn your nose up at this bizarre dish, just remember that Giada is an award-winning chef and if it is good enough for her, it is good enough for us.

A Surprising Favorite

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An Ingredient She Hates

There is one food trend that Giada is sick of and you will certainly not find it in her restaurant.

She told Bravo’s The Feast: “Truffles in everything: truffle oil, truffle butter. Truffles are something that should only be used when in-season. They are a specific flavor, and they should be used delicately. I don’t think they should be added to everything under the sun. It doesn’t make you more of a gourmet cook to use truffle in everything.”

An Ingredient She Hates

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Top Pizza Toppings

Pizza is an Italian trademark and although Giada’s cooking talents extend far beyond this traditional dish, she still has a favorite topping.

Of course, she is still a world-famous chef and so you can be sure that she is not a major fan of ham and pineapple. In fact, her favorite toppings are pancetta, prosciutto, and arugula. The way that Giada pronounces these toppings is a million times better than how we say it. After all, she is Italian.

Top Pizza Toppings

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Travel and Snacks

Another fun fact about Giada is that she always travels with snacks. When asked for her best travel tip, she told Forbes: “I travel with snacks, always. I don’t eat on planes. Trail mix. Walnuts, almonds, Marcona almonds, chocolate chips, cranberries. I take little bags of that with me. It really helps.”

Giada also brings a photograph of her daughter when she is traveling along with a pillow which once belonged to her grandmother, Silvana Mangano. Yes, that’s the Silvana Mangano.

Travel and Snacks

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She Really Does Love Her Snacks

Giada is known for her petite frame and adopts a healthy lifestyle. Part of this is indulging in snacks when she gets a bit peckish.

She warns dieters not to skip snacks because this only makes you hungrier in the long run.

“Don’t forget the snacks!” she says. “Managing hunger is so important to making good food choices; go too long between meals and all of a sudden you’re ready to eat a loaf of bread with a pound of pasta for dinner! Popcorn is a fantastic low-calorie snack option – it even adds some much-needed fiber – and can be dressed up with so many delicious flavors.”

She Really Does Love Her Snacks

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Her Favourite Vacation Destination

When asked by Forbes about her favorite holiday destination, Giada answered with Capri. She also says that she loves to visit her mother in Rome and that she rents a house in the Hamptons with her daughter every summer.

When in Capri, Giada buys sandals, a tradition that began when she was a kid. She claims that over the years, she must have acquired at least 15-20 pairs! Her last pair was a pair of gold and white slip-ons and she bought a matching pair for her daughter too.

Her Favourite Vacation Destination

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Cleansing

A few times a year, Giada will do a cleanse. This doesn’t mean sticking to an all liquid diet, but consuming only what she described to be “healthy, whole foods”. This usually includes fish, wholegrains and lots and lots of veggies.

She says: “After just a few days on a cleanse, I feel and look lighter and find I have more energy during the day. But I don’t believe it should feel like punishment, or come with a lot of impossible-to-stick-to rules.”

Cleansing

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Tragedy Strikes

In 2003, Giada received tragic news. Her brother, Dino, died of skin cancer at the young age of 31. The death came as a huge shock and tore her world apart.

She told ET: “He was the person I turned to for everything. When something great happened in my life, when something bad happened — I would talk to him 2-3 times per day.”

The tragedy inspired her to encourage others to get their skin checked regularly by a dermatologist. She says that had they caught it earlier, “he would still be alive today.”

Tragedy Strikes

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Handy Mandy

Did you know that Giada De Laurentiis was once in a popular kid’s TV show? In 2009, she voiced a character called Paulette in Handy Manny. She was just a guest-star but the experience was her first time acting off-camera. Without that dazzling smile, she had to rely on her voice alone.

Fortunately, everyone loved her appearance, including her daughter, Jade. This isn’t the only time she has gotten involved with children’s entertainment though.

Handy Mandy

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Children’s Literature

In addition to releasing her own cookbooks, Giada also wrote a series of books for children. These were called Recipe for Adventure and were set in cities around the world. They told the story of a young girl called Zia who has adventures in different foodie locations. These cities include: Philadelphia, Miami, and New Orleans to Naples, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janeiro. There are eight books in the series in total. They’re a lot of fun and have lovely illustrations as well.

Children’s Literature

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Giada’s Side of the Story

When many people hear the name “Giada De Laurentiis”, their minds flash to the scandalous tabloids several years ago. In 2010, the star was accused of having an affair with John Mayer. Many people still believe this despite her denial of the events. So here is her side of the story.

“I have never ever been romantically involved with John Mayer,” she explained. “I met him twice at least 5 or 6 years ago at public events along with hundreds of other people. The small amount of face time with John was in rooms filled with other attendees at these events. I have not seen or even heard from him since. The allegation of an affair was a fabrication back in 2010 and remains so today.”

Giada’s Side of the Story

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Net Worth

Given that she is a talented TV chef, writer and entrepreneur, it is no surprise that Giada has a significant amount of money to her name. In addition to the cook books and TV appearances, she also has a range of cooking products available through Target.

As a result, her net worth is believed to be somewhere between $15 to $20 million. Her divorce definitely cost her a pretty penny along with $9000 a month in child support, but she is doing pretty well for herself nonetheless.

Net Worth

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Restraining Order

Giada once had to file for a restraining order after she was harassed by a fan. She began receiving emails from a mysterious “AA” who claimed to be the father of her child. He sent her messages saying: “It would mean a lot to me to see her again and I think she feels the same way. So if you want to make G happy—let us see each other and talk…”

After he confronted her, Giada admitted to being terrified. She recalled: “His statements placed me in fear for myself and my family and caused me to suffer substantial emotional distress.”

This led her to file a restraining order against him.

Restraining Order

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Someone On Her Side

Giada may have been looking over her shoulder since her stalker made contact, but now she has Shane Farley on her side.

The couple have been dating for three years although they met back in 2013 when they worked together on a talk show with Food Network chef Bobby Flay.

“I just thought she was really smart and funny and I thought, ‘God, she would be a great host for a show,’” Shane once said about Giada. The show never actually happened but after spending half a year alone, Giada and Shane connected in a way she never expected to again.

Someone On Her Side

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A Bright Future Ahead

As it stands, Giada is doing a wonderful job bringing up her daughter and seems to have recovered from her divorce with Todd. Her relationship with Shane Farley seems to be going well and the future ahead looks bright.

In interviews, the new couple seem totally smitten with one another and Shane described Giada as “warm and absolutely beautiful”. Todd and Giada have managed to remain amicable so Jade has the support of her both her loving parents.

And as for remarriage? Giada said: “I’m never going to say never.” So we will see!

A Bright Future Ahead

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