In this era of wall-to-wall branding, a number of high-profile chefs and food TV personalities have chosen to keep their names part of the cultural conversation by opening their own stores. These chefs are curating a selection of goods — from books to balsamic vinegar — that are extensions of their carefully built brands, giving them an opportunity to worm their way into your pantry, not just your living room.
The progenitor of this trend is, inarguably, Rachael Ray. After rising to fame as the host of 30-Minute Meals on the Food Network, Ray grew into a bonafide mogul, building a vast empire of branded products that includes housewares, home furnishings, cooking utensils, and dog food. And of course there’s lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, though her empire has always encompassed much more than food. Now, though, these celebrity chefs aren’t just teaming up with Williams-Sonoma for a line of housewares, they’re curating their own selection of goods intended to help their fans cook — and live life — just like they do.
In Shelf Obssesed, Eater will take a closer look at these shops in an attempt to answer one burning question: What, exactly, are these chefs trying to sell us?
The celebrity: Giada De Laurentiis
Now a legitimate food-world star, Giada De Laurentiis first rose to popularity in 2003, when her cooking series, Everyday Italian, debuted on the Food Network. In the intervening years, De Laurentiis set out to build an empire of her own, with multiple cooking shows on Food Network, two Las Vegas restaurants, and a 2008 Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Lifestyle Host.
De Laurentiis’s star rose so high, in fact, that she earned the coveted one-name status enjoyed only by the most famous of celebrities, like Beyonce and Cher. Giada, as she’s now known, made her first foray into the universe of branded products in 2008, when she teamed up with pastamaker Barilla for a line of Italian-inspired jarred sauces. In 2010, she launched a line of kitchen utensils, cookware, and more pasta sauces at Target. But in 2017 she launched Giadzy, a shop that’s all Giada, all the time.
The shop: Giadzy
Giadzy is a one-stop-shop for Giada’s recipes, travel tips, and of course, plenty of Italian pantry essentials. The online-only market is deeply rooted in the Rome-born chef’s enthusiasm for all things Italian, especially high-end pantry staples imported from small, artisanal producers. There are $11 jars of tomato passata, $17 pouches of dried pasta, and tiny jars of spherified black truffle juice that cost $120.
But with beautifully decorated, picture-perfect containers of bluefin tuna and organically grown tomatoes, Giadzy is selling cosmopolitan chic more than it is selling mere groceries. Each product aims to capture the breezy, rich, travels-to-Europe-a-lot vibe that De Laurentiis projects on television as she prepares Sunday supper Bolognese and tiramisu, always pronouncing those Italian words with a whole lot of panache. These are the kinds of ingredients that you’d be proud to accidentally-on-purpose leave out on the counter as you put the finishing touches on an appropriately trendy dinner influenced by the cuisines of the Italian coast. (There is, in fact, an Amalfi-themed cooking kit available on Giadzy.)
Most importantly, though, Giadzy wants to be a place where you can feel okay about splurging on a little everyday indulgence — assuming you’ve got the cash. The items are expensive, yes, but these foods are imbued with a hint of “everyday” utility, especially paired with the site’s accompanying recipes. Here, Giada argues that the biggest luxury in life is to incorporate the good olive oil or the fancy jam into every meal, even the toast you eat over the sink for breakfast every morning. Plus, the site seems to say, the cost is justifiable — that $60 jar of tuna did travel all the way from Italy after being painstakingly crafted by an expert artisan, after all.
If this is the vibe you’re dying to cultivate, these five products perfectly encapsulate the highly curated, deeply Italian aesthetic of Giada De Laurentiis. Here’s what you’ll need to cook like her, or at least make it seem like you know a lot about Italian food.
For when you want to feel as rich as Giada, but you’re gluten-free: carnaroli rice flour, $15.50
For those times when you need your fried foods to come with a touch of elegance, Giadzy is there for you with a $15.50 jar of carnaroli rice flour from Riso Buono. There are only 5.6 ounces of flour in this glass jar, less than a third of what you’ll find inside a box of $5 Koda Farms mochiko, but there’s no denying that it will bring some sophistication to your messy, overstuffed pantry. And it’s produced in Piedmont, a fact you can impart to your dinner guests as they tuck into their crispy fiori di zucca fritti (fried zucchini flowers) or a slice of Giada’s famed gluten-free banana bread.
For an Eat Pray Love moment in the privacy of your own home: painstakingly made Italian giardiniera ($30)
It will set you back $30, but there’s probably no giardiniera on earth that’s fancier than the brand on offer at Giadzy, and this one comes with a story. Made in Italy by former restaurateur Morgan Pasqual and his wife Luciana Silvestri, the artisanal giardiniera is so popular that it prompted the duo to close their restaurant and focus entirely on making pickles in 2012. Unlike basic Italian pickles, this giardiniera made with fennel and peppers boasts a thoroughly Italian pedigree: The vegetables are grown in Veneto, brined in Italian white wine vinegar, and preserved with sea salt from the “ancient salt flats of Cervia.”
For a new ingredient that you can smugly educate your dinner party guests on: caper fruits
When you are making Giada’s pasta puttanesca or salmon piccata, those cheap-ass capers on your grocery store’s shelves simply won’t do. This 5.3 ounce jar of salt-preserved capers hails from the island of Pantelleria, a place known to produce the “most flavorful and largest” capers in Italy. Packing them in salt helps intensify that flavor, and Giada recommends serving them on a salumi board thanks to their hulking size.
For a trip to the Italian coast that’s cheaper than a plane ticket: a freakin’ $60 jar of tuna
This fish is certainly no StarKist — it’s sustainably caught by fourth-generation fishers off the coast of Cetara. But does that make it worth literally 10 times as much as the fancy $6 tuna I buy occasionally as a splurge at the regular supermarket? Probably! Especially if I’m planning a White Lotus-themed dinner party at which I feed my guests really a really glamorous dinner — perhaps vitello tonnato — before one of them is mysteriously murdered.
For absolute luxury in a bottle: only the best balsamic vinegar
Crafted in Modena, where the producers adhered to strict organic and biodynamic cultivation practices before it was aged for 12 years, this single bottle of balsamic vinegar costs $108. But no matter, you deserve a condiment this fancy. Its stylish bottle is practically begging to be displayed on your kitchen shelf alongside a carefully curated selection of cookbooks and chic dishware. And when you finally do manifest your own beautiful villa in Sicily, it won’t look out of place on the table there, either.