I watch the Food Network more than any other channel on television, and I have my DVR set to catch every new episode of Barefoot Contessa. If Ina is on, though, I’ll watch her no matter how many times I’ve seen the episode. She is my absolute favorite cook on the channel.
The warmth her blue or black collared shirts and short brown bob exude calm my nerves and relax me no matter what is going on. Her kitchen is amazing, and she absolutely lives what must be a worry-free life. She lives in East Hampton, talks regularly about her elaborate trips to Paris, and is married to Jeffrey, who is a business professor at Yale. And while her life might seem a bit too elaborate, she’s got a story that got her where she is. Mind you, it isn’t a rags to riches tale–she grew up in Stamford, CT.
While I would love to sing her praises and elongate her life story, I’ll spare you. I’ll share just my favorite pieces. She met Jeffrey while she was in high school, and they got married when she was 20; such a modern day fairy tale. She worked as a budget analyst writing the nuclear budget after getting her MBA from George Washington University. The best part? When she was 30, and finding her job didn’t fit her, she bought the little specialty food store in Westhampton Beach that was her first claim to fame.
The Barefoot Contessa was born.
She has no specialty training, and she is all self-taught.
She slowly grew the business from 400 square feet in the seasonal location of Westhampton to 3,000 square feet in the residential East Hampton. It eventually closed, but it launched her into writing magazine columns, writing her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and of course signing with the Food Network to star in Barefoot Contessa.
Ina has the specialty food product line, Barefoot Contessa Pantry, but she has been approached with and turned down the idea of having her own cookware, furniture, and magazine.
I love so many of the things she says, but some of my favorites are, “how easy is that?” and “make sure you use really good vanilla.” Her hors d’oeuvres trays, dessert platters, and picnic lunches are pristine, and she is so fancy in such a simple way. And of course, it couldn’t go unstated that her recipes are divine. I only pull out one of my Ina books when I’m feeling like over-indulging, but she never lets me down.
I love the story of her success, and my favorite is that she took a sizable risk to buy the specialty food shop to ensure that she lived a life with which she was happy.
Do you love Ina? Do you love the food network or HGTV (my other fave)? Who is your favorite cook or what is your favorite show?