Barefoot Contessa

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Cooking is a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine. I love looking for new recipes, updating old ones with new spins, and watching cooking shows. I’m sure we all have our favorites, Racheal Ray, Guy Fieri, and Martha Stewart; that list can go on for sure, however, my absolute favorite is the ” herself, Ina Garten. I like Ina Garten because her recipes are simple yet elegant; they offer a homestyle taste with ingredients that can be found relatively easily. “Store bought is just fine” is a famous quote of hers and that can resonate with almost anyone.

Ina Rosenberg Garten was born in New York City on February 2nd, 1948. Her father Charles H. Rosenberg was a surgeon specializing in otolaryngology, and his wife, Florence, a dietitian. From a young age, Ina was motivated by her parents to excel in educational pursuits and had a robust love of sciences, which later in life she would utilize to perfect her recipes. Initially, her family didn’t want her to cook, education was at the forefront of the goals they wanted Ina to pursue. Garten’s upbringing highlights while our family can want certain things for us in life, for success sometimes life takes you down unexpected roads.

Speaking of unexpected things, Garten worked under two Presidents; Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. She helped write the nuclear energy budgets and policy papers on nuclear centrifuge plants. Ina then went from working in The White House to opening up her own specialty food store “Barefoot Contessa.” Garten says: “my job in Washington was intellectually exciting and stimulating but it wasn’t me at all.” Barefoot Contessa stayed open for two decades until Ina Garten herself desired a change of pace. So, she closed down her shop and decided to take a year sabbatical to figure out what she wanted to do next. After considering certain ventures, she then decided to write a cookbook called: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Ina’s cookbook flew off the shelves selling over 100,000 copies and required her publisher to run 2nd and 3rd prints. As someone who has her cookbooks, one thing I love is the full photo spreads of cooking items, so you just don’t see ingredients you see what you should be working towards as you follow her recipes.

Finally, we arrive at Ina Garten’s show on the Food Network, “Barefoot Contessa”, which most likely is where most people would know Garten the best. On the show, we often can see her preparing things for a fun party in the Hamptons or just cooking for her husband, Jeffery. Even though Ina lives lavishly there’s something so warm and inviting about her food. Some of the favorites that I made are her lemon chicken, buttermilk biscuits, smashed hamburgers, and limoncello ricotta cheesecake bars.

Ina Garten going from drafting nuclear policy to home-cook is quite the journey. Perhaps Garten’s change of career reminds you of your own path to finding the best career for yourself. Do you like cooking, readers? I’d love to hear some of your recipes. Until next time, take care of yourself.


Ziggy is a Certified Peer Specialist in PA and currently resides in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Let’s Act committee, a group of peers devoted to raising awareness about mental health care. In his downtime, he enjoys reading novels and watching nature documentaries.

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