Ina Garten says that when having a party she always greets her guests with “a delicious drink, a big hug and great music.” Well, she literally hugged her audience Wednesday night at the Peabody Opera House, that brimmed with adoring fans of the Barefoot Contessa.
For her first visit to St. Louis, Garten touted her new cookbook—her 10th—an ode, of sorts, to her hubby Jeffrey. The couple has been married nearly 50 years and living in DC or East Hampton, NY, much of that time. So how did she become a kitchen maven and cookbook writer?
Ina confessed to never cooking when she was growing up. But in 1978, after getting weary of crunching numbers at the White House Office of Management and Budget, she took a gamble on buying a gourmet catering, cheese and wine shop in the Hamptons called the Barefoot Contessa.
A Success Story
Over the next 18 years, she grew the 400-square-foot business to a space seven times that size. Looking for a new challenge, she sold the business to a couple of her employees and moved on to writing about food and filming her own show on the Food Network. The Barefoot Contessa show has been airing since 2002.
During the course of her evening in St. Louis, Garten answered questions from Feast magazine’s Catherine Neville and the audience. She revealed that following a 4-month camping trip in France as a young housewife, she became enthralled by the complexities of French cuisine. She has since come to realize the appeal of simpler fare.
Fans learned, too, that she has a special distaste for cilantro, finding it overpowering in most recipes. When asked how she was able to spend such long hours cooking and writing, she replied, “If you’re doing what you love, it’s not exhausting.”
It was apparent that Ina is still doing what she loves and enjoying ever minute of it.