Her name is already synonymous with simple, fresh Italian food—along with renowned restaurants, Emmy-winning television appearances, popular cookbooks, and much more. And now, Giada De Laurentiis is setting her sights on event catering with the Feb. 6 launch of Giada Catering. A partnership with Patina Restaurant Group, the new company is focused on Italian-inspired dishes with an emphasis on the entire entertaining experience—with De Laurentiis curating not just the menus, but also the cocktails, tablescapes, and other design details.
Giada Catering offers four curated themes: Amalfi (a buffet-style experience with seafood-forward dishes), Milan (a more formal option with classic Italian fare), Rome (a reception-style experience featuring modern Roman cuisine), and California Italian (a family style catering option focused on health-conscious options). Each of the four inspirations comes paired with cocktails, along with De Laurentiis-picked decor, including hand-painted ceramic plates, organic floral arrangements, and more.
The Italy-born De Laurentiis describes the launch as a "full-circle moment," adding that her passion for the intersection of family, food, and entertaining ignited during her early career working as a private chef in Los Angeles.
BizBash caught up with the celebrity chef to discuss her new business, her favorite catering trends, the foods she thinks should never be served at events, and much more...
What inspired you to launch a catering company?
For me, my fondest memories growing up were cooking in the kitchen with my grandfather and sitting around the table with family, friends, and great food. Catering is my way of recreating those experiences for other people through great food and welcoming hospitality. At our restaurant in Las Vegas, we always say "you are dining in Giada’s home"—now I am able to take my signature experiences to people’s homes, weddings, and special events.
What do you hope comes to mind when people think of a Giada Catering menu?
Often, I feel like food can be an afterthought at events, and a lot of the time these functions are all very similar. We are going to reimagine the catering experience through innovative service and thoughtful culinary execution, and I want people to feel like my catering team enhanced their event and made it more special. We have created themed authentic Italian experiences that people can choose from—for instance, you can choose the Amalfi coast with vibrant colors, or Milan’s high fashion, or the authenticity of Rome—to bring the true Italian experience to their events, from design and decor to food and ingredients. We are creating holistic experiences for our guests.
How did the partnership with Patina Restaurant Group come about?
We had actually met to discuss another possible project and while having dinner, catering in LA came up and it really took off from there. My team and Patina spent countless hours making this come to life the right way and for the right reasons. ... I really felt like I needed a partner who could help me execute my vision with their expertise and experience in putting on amazing events. One thing I'm good at is looking and waiting for the right partner to work with, like I’ve done on TV and [with] my restaurants in Las Vegas. Good things take time to find and build, and I really believe that Patina and Delaware North are that partner.
What made you decide to launch in Southern California?
Southern California is my home, which allows me to be very hands-on with my catering business to ensure the food is always the best quality, which is important to me. Also, my brand is Italian with a California flair, so it was a natural fit to start at home.
Are you able to tease any of your expansion plans?
One step at a time! We want to perfect SoCal first and build a loyal following. But growing is definitely the long-term goal.
What types of foods do you think are trending in event catering right now?
I think people are continuing to become more conscious of what they are eating, so I think food with all-natural ingredients that are responsibly sourced will continue to grow in popularity. That’s why Giada Catering is taking the time to shop at local farmers' markets and building relationships with fishermen and local farms—not only to support other local businesses, but also to ensure our product quality.
What’s your biggest hope for the catering industry in 2023 and beyond?
I am just excited to be in the space. I hope the industry embraces us and we see continued growth.
What’s your favorite dish to serve at events?
My famous lemon spaghetti. It’s served with a lemon mascarpone sauce over handmade pasta. It's a light dish with really bold flavors that embodies my Italian-Cali brand.
Is there anything you think should never be served at an event?
I am really focusing on staying true to Italian food, meaning we are using only real, fresh ingredients and staying away from any processed foods. We want our clients to know we have their well-being in mind with every food item we serve.