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Three of Food Network's longest-standing chefs, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, are no strangers to the demands of stardom, now having years of experience multitasking in front of the camera and cooking. But before they were industry professionals, Alton, Bobby and Giada, too, once had to learn the ins and outs of what this job entails, much like Star finalists will in the early weeks on set. As Star Talk gets ready to kick off an all-new ninth season of Food Network Star, we'll be taking a look back at each judge-mentor's earliest days on the network, revisiting their earliest shows and exploring how they turned their passion for food into a full-time job.
Although she grew up with a passion for cooking in a food-minded family (her grandfather Dino De Laurentiis owned a specialty foods shop), Giada De Laurentiis never intended to enter the culinary industry and even pursued a career outside of the world of television by earning a degree in anthropology. Despite her best intentions, however, Giada, of course, succumbed to her love of all things culinary and enrolled in Paris' Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. It was only after founding her own catering company in Los Angeles that Giada began work at Food Network, not on some of her now-most-popular series, like Food Network Star and Giada at Home, but on Everyday Italian, her premiere in-the-kitchen show.
Effortlessly fusing California-cool cuisine with the authentic Italian meals of her childhood, Giada offered audiences a family-friendly approach to Italian cooking, one that focused on classic recipes, as well as creative twists on original favorites. Everyday Italian premiered in 2005, and for nearly three years, she introduced viewers to Italian food beyond spaghetti and meatballs (though there is surely a time and a place for that) and gave them the confidence to make her recipes at home. It didn't take long for fans to crave her comforting meals, always made with rustic simplicity, if not by Giada then by her close-knit family members she frequently welcomed to her show.
If you didn't catch Giada in the kitchen, you likely saw her in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Miami, Fla., London or Bermuda on Weekend Getaways. She escaped for weekend-long adventures in cities around the world, exploring little-known neighborhoods, sampling local eats and drinks, and taking in some of the most-famous attractions — all in front of the camera. Soon, viewers felt that they were jet-setting alongside her, experiencing the sights and tastes just as she did.