When De Laurentiis is not working, she spends time with her husband, Todd (they have been married eight years and together almost 21), and 3-year-old daughter, Jade. She particularly enjoys paddle surfing, as they live by the beach in Los Angeles. “Paddle surfing is the most serene and quiet time for me and it’s also a great workout,” she notes. “Todd is very active and it’s a sport we can do together since I don’t mountain bike or kite surf.”

While her demanding schedule often translates into a seven-day workweek, De Laurentiis and Todd do find time for travel. She loves the idyllic isle of Capri and often stays at the Grand Hotel Quisisana. She finds Santorini in Greece the ultimate paradise, as it is “one of the most serene places on earth — I have never experienced a quiet like this before.” And when she’s not cooking, she favors Capo restaurant near the beach in Santa Monica for Italian food, Hamasaku in Los Angeles for sushi, and Gjelina in Venice, California, where “they have the best cheese and truffle pizza.” Casual dining is a favorite as well, and she notes, “I am big on eating at the bar these days.”

The nation’s hardest-working cook also finds time to give back. De Laurentiis dedicates her time to the international relief organization Oxfam America, which highlights the plight of hunger and poverty worldwide. Named ambassador in 2008, she explains, “To a billion people around the world who try surviving on just a dollar a day, the question ‘What are we going to eat tonight?’ becomes more about life and death than about recipes.”

Do the television shows, cookbooks, retail collections, and branding the Giada De Laurentiis name with licensed products mean the tireless star with the trademark smile will follow in Martha Stewart’s footsteps and become a veritable icon? Possible plans for the future include cooking classes in public schools and recreating the DDL Foodshow (when she finds the best location). She has also toyed with the idea of starting her own magazine. Or perhaps she will collaborate with husband Todd, who designs and manufactures clothing for the retail chain Anthropologie. “Someday we will work together,” she says. “It’s the perfect combination: I feed him and he clothes me!”

While De Laurentiis did not reach her status as a celebrity overnight, she says, “I don’t know 10 steps ahead, but hope for the best. Sometimes in life you just can’t plan — it’s the luck of the draw and being in the right place at the right time and things just work out. I may not be the best chef or teacher but the combination worked out!”