Food Network series gets away from Giada’s usual fare

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Giada De Laurentiis fly-fishes, rides Jet Skis and dances in her new Food Network series, but she stopped short of jumping out of an airplane.

“I said I wouldn’t consider doing it,” De Laurentiis said Wednesday. “I’m just too darned scared of skydiving. The fear of that parachute not opening is overwhelming.”

The skydiving idea came up during the planning of “Giada’s Weekend Getaways” – a show, launching Friday at 9 p.m., in which De Laurentiis visits various cities to take in the nightlife, daytime activities and epicurean delights.

“When I spoke to the Food Network about it, I said I’m not interested in doing a show where all we do is show them where to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s not a weekend getaway,” she said.

“I want to be sort of a travel guide. What to see, how to get there, what activities you can do, where to eat, it’s a combination of all those things.”

For instance, in the first of two episodes airing Friday, she visits Miami Beach, where she walks on the beach, rides those Jet Skis, takes salsa lessons and visits restaurants. In an edition set in New York, to air in next month, she’s seen eating at Grimaldi’s Pizza, having drinks at the River Cafe and visiting Top of the Rock.

She does all of this without a fixed budget, unlike, say, Rachael Ray’s “$40 a Day.”

“What I tell you,” De Laurentiis said, “is how to get the most out of the place.”

Such as going to the River Cafe’s bar to watch the sunset, rather than have a full-blown dinner.

De Laurentiis is doing 13 episodes of “Weekend Getaways” in addition to her “Everyday Italian,” which is a traditional cooking show. The new series is also an effort to branch out – and get out of the kitchen, if you will.

“A lot of my fans are based on, and know me, through food,” she said. “You don’t want to lose that as a connector.”

But being out of the kitchen, she said, shows viewers more of who she is – for example, being not so glamorous while fly fishing in Jackson Hole, Wyo. She doesn’t know where this will take her career, but she rules out nothing.

“It’s a journey,” she said, “but I’ll see where that journey takes me.”

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