The Super-talented Barefoot Contessa

April 03, 2019


I have been watching domestic goddess, Ina Garten, create mouth-watering delicacies on her cooking show forever. Now, it seems, we are in a new era where shows such as, “The World’s Worst Cook” or “How to Beat So-and-So in X-Minutes” reign supreme. Obviously this type of scheduling is geared to an audience that has no interest in watching a cook in the kitchen who whips up several superb dishes for a memorable lunch or dinner. I only catch The Barefoot Contessa now by accident: early mornings on days I can never remember.

The Barefoot Contessa with Taylor Swift who is a big fan – photo courtesy of Elle magazine

But I’m still fascinated by this very talented lady so I was immediately intrigued when I spotted an article in Elle magazine, October 2018 with the headline, “I Love Ina” (the word love is in the shape of a heart) by Carrie Battan who spent time with Ina at her lovely home, with its spectacular garden, in East Hampton, located 105 miles from Manhattan on Long Island.


This was a new one for me! Garten was in the White House Office of Management during the Carter administration. But, at the age of 25, she wanted to have her own projects. So she bought houses and flipped them for cash. This allowed her to buy the Barefoot Contessa (don’t you love that name) a gourmet food shop located in East Hampton. She owned this for 18 years before writing her best-selling debut cookbook. Garten has now published a total of 10 books, each selling better than the last, and filmed 16 years of her Daytime Emmy-winning TV cooking show.  


Garten is constantly turning down offers to license her name for food items, fertilizers and clothing lines. In short: she’s not Gwyneth Paltrow or Martha Stewart. (She never met Anthony Bourdain, who once described Garten as “one of the few people on the Food Network who can actually cook.”) She used to do all her filming and cooking in the house but then began to fear that “Jeffrey would divorce me,” she says, breaking into a fit of laughter.

She did a Food Network special with Michelle Obama in 2016 – her barn has framed pictures of them together – but for the most part, she avoids discussing current events.

I checked Garten’s website and the very first thing I came across was “Triple Chocolate Loaf Cakes” that are described as “so chocolatey – with cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips.”  The second one (from the cookbook Cook Like a Pro) has a recipe for “Mustard-Crusted Chicken With Fingerling Potatoes and a Frisée Salad” that sounds so good I wanted to stop writing at once and start cooking.

The Barefoot Contessa looking very happy in her kitchen

Cookbook available at Barnes & Noble

Instead, I did the next best thing: I printed out the recipe. It printed out very fast and came to five pages, all very readable with easy-to-see type and perfect instructions. Note: there are many recipes on the Web that leave a lot to be desired. But this is the Barefoot Contessa who has built her career on being unchanging: using the same simple, high-quality ingredients for her simple, flavorful dishes. Of course her recipe would print out perfectly!


Ina, I want you to know: I fully intend to try this recipe as soon as possible.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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