When Food Network stars decide to make an appearance here in Naperville, it’s a good bet there is going to be a crowd.
Monday night had a certain star and celebrity feel to it as author, chef, and television personality Giada De Laurentiis appeared on the North Central College campus at Pfeiffer Hall to promote her new children’s series of books entitled “Recipe for Adventure.”
The event was sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshop.
De Laurentiis spoke to a crowd of more than 400 people, followed by a book signing.
Her new series of books is based on the adventures of a brother and sister and an aunt who comes to live with them and hopes to teach her niece and nephew about the joys of making food at home as well as learning about the places where the dishes originate.
De Laurentiis’ first “destination’ books are set in Naples, Italy and Paris, France. The former was the first written in the series and reflects one of her food passions.
“Naples makes the best pizza in the world,” De Laurentiis said. “I heard many adventure stories when I was young, and I want children to be able to enjoy them and the food connected with them as well.”
Fans began gathering more than 45 minutes before De Laurentiis appeared and virtually all of them gushed about the celebrity chef’s easy-to-prepare meals as well as her personality, which Julia Olschanski of Oswego said “was the same as someone you already know like a neighbor.”
“My daughter and I love her cooking shows, and since my daughter injured her back, we’re trying to help her through rehab by getting her interested in cooking and travel, which is just what these books are about,” Olschanski said. “I think Gaida has a wonderful personality, and she’s just someone you can easily relate to.”
Sarah Olschanski, 13, said she likes eating healthy which is why she enjoys De Laurentiis’ recipes. She added that she and her friends cook simple things sometimes.
“We make brownies and things like that, but I think eating healthy is a good way to begin to think about things,” she said.
John Schmidt and his daughter Madalynn drove more than 100 miles from Bridgeman, Mich., to see De Laurentiis because both of them “love her cooking.”
“Giada is my favorite chef and I think the recipes are easy to understand,” Madalynn said. “My dad and I have made her chicken quesadilla wraps and some of her snacks.”
“She gets to spend some quality time with Dad making food,” Schmidt added. “These days, that’s something pretty precious.”
Mary Watts of Naperville said she planned to read one of Laurentiis’ new books to her grandson. She added that for her, De Laurentiis is a go-to source for recipes.
“I use her books all the time, and watch her on television,” Watts said. “I think this new series of books will appeal to kids and get them more into cooking.”
Perhaps the most special guest Monday night was Jennifer Murray of Downers Grove, who brought her 6-year-old daughter who she named Giada after De Laurentiis herself.
“I took my daughter to see Giada when she was here a while back, and after my daughter met Giada — she’s been asking about her ever since,” Murray said. “We both watch her on TV, and my daughter really likes the meat loaf Giada makes. I like her personal style and enjoy everything about her.”