No doubt accomplished cooks will come in droves to see celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis at the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show on Saturday. But young mothers might benefit most.
"Before becoming a mother, I never realized how much one child changes your life," De Laurentiis said.
Her fifth book, Giada at Home (Clarkston Potter, $35) reflects her new lifestyle since daughter Jade was born 2½ years ago. "It's more family oriented," De Laurentiis said in a phone interview from her Los Angeles home.
De Laurentiis is the star of a Food Network program by the same name, Giada at Home, which airs at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 4:30 p.m. Mondays.
The recipes that De Laurentiis will prepare at the Incredible Food Show include a trio of pastas: spaghetti with beef, which can be an entree or a side dish and can be served at room temperature; rigatoni with creamy mushroom sauce, which is nice for a dinner party; and fusilli topped with shrimp, fish, chicken or steak for a quick lunch on the go.
"I want to make it as easy as possible," she said.
De Laurentiis hopes that parents who don't do a lot of cooking will find some of her recipes easy to make for the family.
"The trickiest thing is getting kids to eat healthy. We fall back on old standbys," she said. "It takes creativity and more work in planning to feed our children wholesome food. Listen to what kids like and put as much variety as you can on the table. They won't always eat all of it, but allow them to see it."
Her toddler, Jade, is learning about food.
"I take her to the grocery store with me. Not every time, but often. We pick out produce, and she's starting to learn what everything is."
And when there's time, De Laurentiis allows Jade to help cook. She encourages other parents to do the same with their children.
"I have to say it takes longer, but let them cook. I got to cook when I was young. Loosen up and let them do it. It throws me off my schedule for sure, and I don't do it every day. I plan out times when I can, when I don't stress her out and myself."
In January, De Laurentiis partnered with Target to launch her line of products. The Giada De Laurentiis for Target collection ranges from pasta sauces and flavored coffee to kitchen essentials, including stainless steel cookware, ceramic bakeware and nylon tools, all designed with the at-home cook in mind.
Getting her food items to market has been "an amazing experience," she said.
"I'm learning so much about putting my sauces in a jar. The tomato-basil line was a long journey to get it where it is today."
Because people often ask her what knives she uses, De Laurentiis has teamed with Target to offer good knives that aren't expensive.
"Most knives are designed for men, but it's women who cook for the family. There's nothing out there made for them. The knives are light and aerodynamic for a woman to handle," she said.
Her favorite knife is the stainless steel mezzaluna.
"It's under $20 and extremely light. The blade stays sharp for a really long time. It's the knife I will have with me at the demo" in Lexington, she said.
De Laurentiis' new cookbook and line of food products, cookware and gadgets are aimed at encouraging families to spend more time together in the kitchen.
"Growing up in an Italian family, most of the conversation of the day happened around the dinner table," she said. "I looked forward to it, to share what happened. It's so important for our kids and us to stay connected. And, it's important to put nutritious food on the table.
"Giving them too much sugar and too many preservatives is doing them a disservice. If we're going to bring down the childhood obesity rate, we need to start cooking.".
Some parents say they don't have enough time to cook. De Laurentiis encourages them to set priorities.
"We find time to do other things. Make the time to cook. Think of it as an investment in our children," she said. "Take baby steps. Three nights a week, do a nice meal. I'm not telling someone to cook seven days a week. Start with one and see how it feels, and move on."