You may know her as the host of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa, but even if you’re a daily viewer (that Jeffrey is very well fed!), we bet that there are some things you didn’t know about this domestic diva.
Ina Garten (née Rosenberg) was born in Brooklyn in 1948, and was raised in Stamford, Connecticut. In 1978, she spotted an ad in The New York Times for a specialty food store that was for sale in Westhampton, New York, and, dreaming of a life in the country, she decided to pull the trigger and make the investment. The name of the store? The Barefoot Contessa.
It was a simple two-person operation, with one person working in the front of the store and another preparing food in the kitchen. While living in Washington, D.C., she had made some extra money by buying, fixing up, and re-selling row houses (also called flipping), so she used those funds to buy the shop. It became a huge success, eventually putting her in the same orbit as the Hamptons’ high society. In a new 3,000-square-foot space in the year-round community of East Hampton, she attracted a wealthy clientele — including Steven Spielberg and Lauren Bacall — and sold upscale foods like lobster Cobb salad, caviar, fine cheeses, and local produce.
After selling the shop, Garten began to work on a cookbook, which was based on recipes from her shop and made use of local, seasonal ingredients. The book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, was published in 1999. It featured simple, elegant recipes that anyone could make, and gorgeous photographs and illustrations made it easy to follow along. It was an astonishing success, and set Garten on the path to television (and many more cookbooks).
It seems as if everything Garten touched has turned to gold, but it wasn’t without a lot of hard work. Click here for 10 things you didn’t know about Ina Garten.