Our two favorite subjects— beauty and food!— collided when we sat down with celebrity chef and cookbook writer Giada De Laurentiis at a Manhattan hotel last week. Here's what the new spokeswoman for Clairol Natural Instincts (and yes, she's just as stunning, down-to-earth and sweet in person as she is on TV! Her shade? #12 Toasted Almond) had to say about...
Working with Clairol "Being a chef and a cook, a long time ago I was told that beauty deals don’t really come for people like myself. I always try to bring glamour and beauty and sensuality into the kitchen and into Italian food, so I thought it wouldn’t be that crazy of an idea, but it's very competitive. I was so honored when they actually to a leap of faith and picked me. We have the same philosophy: I believe in a balanced lifestyle, and Natural Instincts makes you feel good about your hair. It makes it shiny, silky and smooth. And I'm a working mom, so I don't have three hours to spend in a salon: This masks and blends in grays and brings out the golden hues in 10 to 15 minutes, which is what every woman wants."
The best thing about boxed color "I had never used their boxed color before, and I fell madly in love with the included conditioner. That conditioner rocks. I use it once a week on the last two to three inches of my hair, where it gets dry because of all the blow-drying. It gives that extra bounce, as if I just got a trim."
Her biggest hair color mishap "I lived in Paris when I was younger at cooking school and I was inspired by the Parisian women who have jet black hair and white, white skin. So, I decided to dye my hair jet black—a big, fat mistake. And it took me a long time to get that color out."
The product that never leaves her bag "CoverGirl LashBlast Mascara. I carry a little mascara, some sunscreen with a tint, a little bit of blush and just balm. I use that Rosebud Salve in Strawberry because my daughter is four and she’ll kiss my lips even more because she loves that flavor and it just smells good. That and I can just go with my regular life—to go to school, go to the grocery store, run errands, whatever.
The secret to her amazing hair "I get a blowout once a week and make it last the full week. I have curly, dry hair, and if I washed it more than that, it would break. And my blow-dry looks better as it sits— the second, third, fourth day. The dirtier it gets, the better! In the morning, I don't brush my hair: I just flip it over, back up and go. I don't pull out a curling iron or any of that—I don't have the time nor the patience.
And skin (hint: It's in your pantry) "I don't go to bed with makeup on, and I exfoliate every single night with a mix of olive oil and baking soda. The olive oil gives moisture and baking soda takes out any other stuff on my skin. I don't leave it on—I just scrub and rinse. It gives my face this wonderful glow, and I don't have to wear as much makeup during the day."
Five things always in her kitchen "Olive oil, different shapes of pasta made from different flours like brown rice, lentil, etc., jarred tomato sauce (disclosure: I sell my own pastas and tomato sauces at Target), frozen peas, jarred artichokes and frozen shrimp. You can whip up a meal with that."
Advice for novice cooks "You don't need to cook, you can just assemble. Let's say you want to bring something to someone's house: You can make a beautiful caprese salad that's colorful, especially now in summertime. Take lots of different colored tomatoes, heirloom, vine-ripened, whatever, then slice with fresh mozzarella and layer with basil on a platter. Top it with a little extra virgin olive oil and some smoked salt, which enhances all of the flavors and tingles your tastebuds. And you're done—you haven't "cooked" a thing. Number two: Have a great knife. A sharp, really nice knife that feels good in your hand will help build your confidence in the kitchen."
One food she'd never give up "Chocolate. When I was shooting Everyday Italian, I would keep paper cups of Ghirardelli chocolate chips in the freezer for a little chocolate fix in the afternoon. When they're cold, they take longer to melt in your mouth, so a little bit goes a longer way. Right now, I love my iced Americanos with agave—that's my treat."
Her hubby's favorite dish "Penne with spicy sausage, mushrooms and peas. It's a sauce-less pasta: I sauté them all together with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. That's it, my friends, that's it! It can be very, very easy. Another one of my favorites is lemon spaghetti, which is just lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper, tossed with spaghetti. That's a staple—you can add any protein to it."
How she stays so slim "I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. I taste a lot, but I don't really eat full plates of food, ever. I do yoga four days a week, usually at 5:30AM before work. And I paddle board with my husband. It's great core exercise and very Zen because you get away from land for a bit, which is quiet and peaceful."
Staying fresh-faced on the go "When I'm shooting, it gets hot. So I use Evian water mist on my face constantly to rehydrate, rather than sticking on more and more powder. My skin just soaks it up. And I always wear sunscreen—day or night, rain or shine. When I paddle surf, I wear a full wetsuit and a hat. I look like the biggest loser on the planet, but I don't care. My husband's always like, 'I can't see you! Where are you? Where's your face?'"
Her guilty pleasure "Lately it's been croutons. I love making them. I'm talking good ones with cheese and lots of olive oil. Earlier this year, I'd carry little baggies of croutons to snack on when I got sick of almonds!"
She doesn't mind splurging on "Travel—we just went to Rome. But, I'm not going to lie, I love shoes and jewelry. But a splurge doesn't necessarily have to have an expensive price tag. It's just taking a little extra time and doing something that makes you feel good about yourself."