These Are the Impractical Things Ina Garten Does on Every Episode of ‘Barefoot Contessa’

Even if you love watching Ina Garten cook, you have to admit that she doesn’t take an entirely practical approach in the kitchen. She insists that you should make many ingredients — ones readily available at the grocery store — from scratch instead. When Garten does go grocery shopping, she seems to patronize only high-end stores where even a gallon of milk would probably be out of our price range. Plus, on each episode of Barefoot Contessa, she spends all day cooking a meal that gets devoured in under an hour.

If you love Ina Garten in spite of it all, read on to check out the most impractical things that she does on each episode of Barefoot Contessa.

1. Ina Garten throws a dinner party on almost every episode

Ina Garten dinner party
Every day is worthy of a dinner party for Ina. | Food Network

Let’s start with the obvious. Ina Garten seems to throw a party on every single episode of Barefoot Contessa. And not just for birthdays or anniversaries or retirements. She seems to take any occasion as an excuse to entertain. If you love cooking, then you’ve probably thrown a dinner party or two of your own. But you almost certainly don’t throw them as often as Ina Garten. For us mere mortals, it can be a challenge just to get a cohesive meal on the table for our families. But on just about every episode of Barefoot Contessa, Garten decides to throw a party for her friends.

Next: She always uses this kind of ingredient.

2. She uses ingredients she grew at home

Ina Garten and Taylor Swift cook together
She will always cook with the things she grows at home. | Food Network

Many of us love gardening. And plenty of Americans have established gardens to grow their own vegetables or herbs. But not many of us have such an expansive or well-tended plot as Ina Garten. In almost every episode of Barefoot Contessa, she cooks with at least one ingredient that she grew at home. That’s fine if you already have the requisite plants growing in your backyard. But most people aren’t going to go to the garden store for seeds instead of heading to the grocery store for herbs or vegetables.

Next: She always advises looking for this at the grocery store.

3. Ina Garten stresses the importance of using ‘good’ ingredients

Ina Garten serves a meal outdoors
That ‘good vanilla’ is pricey. | Food Network

When Ina Garten does need to buy something at the store, you’ll always hear her offer the same caveat. You can buy it at the store, but you have to choose a “good” version of the ingredient at hand. Most of the time, that probably means “expensive.” Spoon University notes that Garten’s obsession with high-quality ingredients shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows about her background  as a “purveyor of gourmet foods.” But it’s frustrating that not only are Garten’s recommendations very expensive — like vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract — but also that she usually doesn’t take the time to explain what you should look for when shopping. She often says to buy “good” olive oil. But she never specifies exactly what she means.

Next: She shops at this very impractical kind of store.

4. She shops only at boutique stores

Ina Garten buying cheese
She doesn’t shop at a regular grocery store. | Food Network

You’ll never see Ina Garten go to a chain grocery store to pick up what she needs to prepare a meal. Instead, she only seems to shop at local and boutique stores. (The kind of stores that seem spectacularly impractical for anyone with a real budget.) Of course, Ina Garten doesn’t actually seem to know how regular people shop. As Eater reports, she once shadowed a friend at the grocery store just to see people shop. And she always has an assistant try out a recipe to see where home cooks will go wrong or need reassurance. At least she tries to understand what life is like for mere mortals!

Next: She never wears one of these.

5. Ina Garten never wears an apron, no matter how messy the dish

Ina Garten prepares dinner
She manages to never make a mess. | Food Network

Anybody who’s watched even a couple episodes of Barefoot Contessa knows that Ina Garten usually wears a black or blue button-down shirt. Her shirts are probably quite expensive. Nonetheless, she never bothers to wear an apron when she’s cooking on the show. Most of us can’t afford to ruin perfectly nice clothes if something splatters or spills. But Garten seems willing to take the risk, even when she cooks a dish that’s bound to get messy.

Next: She uses so much of this ingredient.

6. Many of her recipes call for lots of butter

Three sticks of butter in a mixer
She could give Paula Deen a run for her money. | Food Network

On almost every episode of Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten prepares a dish that uses a huge quantity of butter. That may taste great. But it’s impractical for several reasons. First of all, butter has gotten pretty expensive, even at the chain grocery stores where most Americans shop. And secondly, butter doesn’t exactly constitute a healthy addition to your diet. Too many of Ina Garten’s recipes involves multiple sticks of butter. That may be fine for an occasional indulgence. But you certainly can’t eat like that at every single meal.

Next: She never seems to do this.

7. She doesn’t measure her ingredients

Ina Garten prepares a meal
Those are pretty impressive skills though. | Food Network

On many cooking shows, ingredients like spices and herbs get pre-measured and portioned out into tiny ramekins or bowls. Then, the host adds them to the dish without having to deal with measuring spoons. But not on Barefoot Contessa. Instead, you’ll often hear Ina Garten telling you exactly how much of an ingredient to use. Then, she opens the jar and instead of measuring precisely, she just eyeballs it. Impressive — but hardly practical for most home cooks.

Next: She overuses this descriptor.

8. Ina Garten says that everything is ‘easy’

Ina Garten and Tyler Florence melt chocolate
It’s definitely her idea of easy, maybe not anyone else’s. | Food Network

Think about it: Just telling somebody that a task is easy doesn’t actually make it any easier to accomplish. But Ina Garten hasn’t seemed to figure that out. She punctuates her narration of how to put together each dish with phrases like, “How easy was that?” We wouldn’t object much if she just said it in reference to tasks that are objectively easy. But when she utters the phrase in reference to a technique or a dish that looks very, very complicated? Then it seems more than a little bit impractical.

Next: She can’t help herself from saying this, either.

9. She also says that everything is ‘simple’

Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis
Yeah, simple to a professional chef maybe. | Food Network

Similarly, Ina Garten seems to think that all of her recipes are “simple” to prepare. Many of her fans, however adoring, would beg to differ. She once told PBS that “my recipes are really simple, because I want to be able to do them.” But tasks like roasting a chicken are notoriously simple in theory, but complicated in practice. We’re still major Barefoot Contessa fans. But we wish that, instead of assuring viewers that a recipe is “simple,” Ina Garten would just use that time to offer a little bit of extra explanation or instruction.

Next: She does all of this at the same time.

10. At each party, she somehow prepares both food and drinks

Ina Garten in her kitchen
She manages to whip up just about everything. | Food Network

Every time we watch her show, we wonder how Ina Garten always manages to make perfect cocktails. We also can’t help but marvel at how she mixes up those drinks in addition to preparing a huge amount of beautiful food. She sometimes even seems to drink a cocktail herself. But she always manages to stay sober enough to expertly put the finishing touches on whatever complex meal she’s prepared. It seems impractical to do everything yourself, especially when your house is full of people who’d probably be happy to mix up your signature cocktail. (Ina Garten seems to count the whiskey sour as hers.)

Next: She makes this choice when entertaining.

11. Ina Garten often hosts parties outside

Ina Garten outdoor dinner party
Outdoor dinners can get complicated fast. | Food Network

Any time you entertain, you probably deliberate over where you want to set the table and host your guests. How about the living room? Maybe the family room? What about the porch? Or maybe the garden? You’ll have several factors to consider. Yet the most practical option is almost always inside. There, a sudden wind can’t carry away your napkins. And the chance of a thunderstorm can’t foil your plans. But on many episodes of Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten decides to host her party outside. Impractical, yes. But still envy-inducing.

Next: She also chooses this party location.

12. She even hosts parties at the beach

Ina Garten Beach picnic
She buys ‘inexpensive’ pillows and blankets just for the beach. | Food Network

Want to take the entertaining impracticality a step farther? Ina Garten not only hosts parties outside on her manicured property, but also frequently throws parties at the beach. Setting aside the fact that she lives (and parties) in the Hamptons, can you imagine just how impractical it would be to throw a party at whatever beach is closest to you? There’s sand, wind, and saltwater to contend with. And there’s basically nowhere to take cover if a storm sneaks up on you. Plus you have to carry everything out onto the beach with you.

Next: She seems to love orchestrating surprises.

13. Ina Garten is always trying to ‘surprise’ Jeffrey

Ina Garten and husband Jeffrey
Their relationship is still pretty adorable though. | Food Network

Another impractical choice that Ina Garten makes on many episodes of Barefoot Contessa? She always wants to “surprise” Jeffrey with a specific dish, a dinner, or even a party. But have you ever tried to surprise somebody in your household with any of those things? Getting to and from the grocery store in secret, not to mention planning an entire party without your significant other knowing about it, definitely gets impractical. Not everything has to be a surprise for somebody to appreciate it.

Next: She delegates this task to somebody else.

14. She gets somebody else to set the table

A set dinner table for a party at Ina Garten's
She often has her friends set the table for her. | Ina Garten via Facebook

It would be great if the person who cooks a meal doesn’t have to the set the table or do the dishes. But we all know that it doesn’t always work out that way. However, Ina Garten always seems to have help — not only behind the scenes, but also right in front of the camera. She often has somebody else set the table. Sometimes, she even enlists the help of a friend who comes over specifically to take care of that chore for her. Completely impractical! But we can’t fault her for not wanting to arrange the silverware and match the napkins to the placemats herself.

Next: She neglects to complete this task.

15. Ina Garten never introduces people properly

Ina Garten entertains friends
People just randomly appear. | Food Network

On every episode of Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten seems polite and pleasant. But she always makes one very impractical faux pas when she gets her friends together for dinner or a party. As Eater points out, she never seems to introduce people properly. Of course, there’s no telling what goes on behind the scenes. But she fails to provide her viewers, at least, with any context on her friends. “In the early years in particular of Barefoot Contessa, many perfectly normal encounters are rendered incredibly awkward by the fact that these are real people suddenly thrust before a camera,” Eater notes. “Personages in general tend to appear on the show with extraneous introductions or no introductions at all.” We’d venture to guess that Emily Post would not approve.

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