Cookbooks were a natural progression for the talented cook. Her first book, Everyday Italian, debuted in 2005 and was followed by Giada’s Family Dinners (2006) and Everyday Pasta (2007), which hit the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list. Giada’s Kitchen (2008) and Giada at Home (2010) are the latest editions.

She added products to her burgeoning empire with the Giada De Laurentiis for Target collection. Inspired by Aunt Raffy, who suggested nonstick pots with glass lids in a bold color, the line also includes sauces, dips, utensils, and gadgets.

So what does this Emmy Award-winning personality deem the perfect dream dinner? Guest-wise, the dinner already happened when De Laurentiis and husband Todd went to a party at West Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont and dined with Nathan Followill, the drummer from the band Kings of Leon (she is a huge fan). “I looked at my husband Todd and said, ‘This is one of the coolest things about my job,’” she says. Menu-wise her dream dinner “would naturally be Italian style as it’s important for people to see my tradition,” she explains. “I would begin with a Neapolitan pizza appetizer followed by a trio of pastas including a handmade gnocchi with red vodka sauce and a stuffed pasta like ravioli. This would be very colorful, as I am into texture.”

The main dish would be lamb chops or beef tenderloin served with a curry mayonnaise as she “likes to cook outside the box and surprise people.” Broccoli rabe with red pepper flakes and garlic and a salad of grilled asparagus, melon, and mozzarella would also complement the menu. “And of course it would end in chocolate!” the self-professed chocoholic proclaims. Sugar was once a problem, as De Laurentiis was known to pour six heaping spoonfuls in her coffee a day. “I grew up when eating sugar was not a big deal. I would have a croissant with jam for breakfast. I love and became addicted to sugar, and now I use agave as it is easier to process in the body,” she explains.

While sugar may not appear in her well-stocked pantry, De Laurentiis makes sure that fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, assorted dry pastas in a variety of shapes, dried oregano, rosemary, thyme, vinegars, onions, and capers are on hand. Other items she recommends are cannellini beans, canned Italian tunas packed in olive oil, marinara sauce, and — last but never least — extra virgin olive oil.