Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis is on a mission to bring the spirit of Italy to the United States. The TV chef is launching a new online store at Giadzy.com that sells over 200 Italian specialties, from pasta and olive oil to sauces and honey.

Recently, I caught up with her at an event for LA Tech Week and we talked about food, tech and how not to overeat when faced with a table full of antipasto.

We started with everyone’s favorite topic: the pandemic. De Laurentiis said she saw a renewed interest in all things food during the past few years.

“So many people didn’t have anywhere to go and stayed home and I think that people just rediscovered food in a way that maybe they hadn’t thought about it in the past,” said De Laurentiis.

This led to her making more social media videos, especially TikTok. She admitted this is somewhat of a challenge coming from 30-minute TV shows.

“I started doing a lot of TikTok’s… and as different as it is… to doing 30 seconds, a one-minute post and trying to get the same amount of information out there was tricky, especially for someone who is a little bit older and has been doing a certain version of information a certain way,” said De Laurentiis.

She describes social media as a form of inspiration for people looking at food, recipes and places to visit.

“The way that reading magazines and traveling and watching other shows used to be. Experiencing the world right at our home is something we weren’t able to do years ago,” said De Laurentiis.

Giada’s website, Giadzy, isn’t new, but there is a new section dedicated to selling over 200 hand-curated Italian specialty products.

“My whole point with Giadzy.com is to highlight these small family farms, these small businesses in Italy that are producing some of the highest quality ingredients and products and bringing them to people in their homes,” said De Laurentiis.

Many of the products are minimally processed and use clean ingredients.

“Although these products tend to be a little bit more expensive, they’re a great way to entertain your family and friends and make you feel like you’ve got that vibrancy and that romance and the great flavors that you know, if you’ve been to Italy,” said De Laurentiis.

There are pastas and sauces, olive oil, cookies, candies, chocolates, and antipasto including honey, jam, and crackers.

Giada’s advice when you’re faced with a tableful of amazing appetizers?

“A little bit of everything and not a lot of anything,” she said. Instead of grazing, start with a small place so you’re mindful of how much you’re eating.

“With the Italian culture, we don’t eat a lot of anything. We eat a little bit of it, so I grew up that way. And same with alcohol, all of it. We eat many meals a day, but not a lot.”

Of course, I had to ask about her growing social media empire, which stands at more than five million combined followers.

“I love that connection to the fans. To hear in real time what they think – and I know they’re not always great comments and I’m aware of that – but there’s a real fun aspect for me to be able to chit chat right away with fans and to get their feedback and I don’t think I would have ever started Giadzy if I hadn’t had that.”

Finally, Giada told me that her favorite tech is her phone.

“I’ll tell you that I only like to use my phone. I do not like to use my computer or an iPad or anything else. I think that in this day and age we should be able to do everything from our phones.”