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Pint-sized celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis should never be underestimated. She can pack a punch, albeit delivered in a silken glove. She can smile seductively and charm birds out of a tree, but simultaneously there’s a feisty style that dares you to mess with her, and you’ll wind up on the losing end. (Even in good fun, I speak from experience!)
Is it because she’s got the tantalizing temperament of an independent Italian? Is it because she walks in the fabulous footsteps of her grandfather, Italian filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis? Or is it because she’s the first female star chef in the Caesars Entertainment empire of male culinary kings?
I think it’s because Giada wants the best, and she doesn’t dare let there be the tiniest drop of marinara stain her legendary family name. It also is because in opening her first-ever restaurant — overlooking the Strip inside its first boutique resort, the Cromwell, next month — she’s determined that the property’s sole dining venue, Giada, will be a huge success.
Giada knows exactly what she wants, and she’s determined to have it her way. After months of planning and construction, she’s ready to start four weeks of around-the-clock preparation with food and staff in the restaurant. She says, “In no way does that make me a b-i-t-c-h.” Her impeccable TV, cookbook and kitchen credentials to date ensure that she’s going to win in taking on the Strip. Giada is 2014’s most highly anticipated restaurant opening.
At a mini-tasting luncheon last Thursday, Caesars Entertainment President of Operations Tom Jenkins, Regional VP of Food and Beverage Jeffrey Frederick and Giada unveiled final renderings of the space and menus for lunch and dinner.
Giada is the first restaurant overlooking the Strip with a fireplace; seven massive hydraulic retractable windows wrapped around the Strip’s busiest intersection; a custom antipasto bar; separate pizza and bread ovens; and a station to roll homemade pastas.
The 5’2” 43-year-old powerhouse beauty, like me a Virgo, has been involved in every design selection made for the restaurant right down to testing every chair, selecting all the tiles and bringing in artwork, movie posters and framed family portraits from the famous family’s collection. Order the Barbarella cocktail inspired by the Jane Fonda classic her grandfather produced. ...
I bounce a lot of things off Bobby and Mario Batali. I’ve actually gone to go see Mario a couple of times since we’ve spoken. It’s like going back to talk to The Godfather when talking to Mario. I tell them the feelings that I’m having and the worries that I’m having and the steps that are happening now, are these right? Is this the way it really does work? Or how can I make it different or how can I make it better? Am I asking too much? Am I on the right path? Those are the types of things I’m asking at this point. Bobby’s been here 14 years, with Caesars, so he really has a stronghold of how this all works.Mario has just had so many restaurants and he’s at a different hotel, so he can tell me how they do it differently over there. I feel like I’m getting the best of both, plus Mario, knowing Italian food so well, he can tell me, Giada, what you’re doing is good. It’s different. But when you do something different, it means it’s going to be a tougher battle, a tougher road. And, to be honest, Robin, I am a woman in a man’s world. Step into my shoes for one minute and know that it is a battle. It is a battle to be heard. It is a battle to say I didn’t get this far because people ran me over. Unfortunately, sometimes, for that devotion, I get called a b-i-t-c-h. Sometimes I have to be to get what I need and to be heard. I believe in running it my way, not the old way ...