‘Barefoot Contessa’: A Rare Look at Ina Garten’s Painstaking Recipe Process

Watching Food Network star Ina Garten pull together a recipe on her Barefoot Contessa program is therapeutic for many. She just seems to throw ingredients together in a perfect harmony.

Ina Garten
Ina Garten | Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

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It’s actually not as easy as it looks and the celebrated home cook has finally revealed the rigorous work involved behind the scenes.

Speaking of recipes – Garten’s new collection is publishing this fall

The 72-year-old Hamptons, NY resident has a new collection of long-awaited recipes publishing in Oct. 2020. Garten already has eleven other highly celebrated cookbooks under her belt, including Barefoot Contessa Parties! filled with foolproof tips for throwing the perfect get-together while still enjoying your guests’ company; Cooking for Jeffrey, her love letter to her husband, Jeffrey, filled with all of his favorites; and her most current cookbook, Cook Like a Pro.

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The Food Network star announced recently that the book publication date has been moved pushed up for an earlier release.

She shared in her post, “Good news!! Because we all need it ASAP, we decided to move up the publication date of my new book Modern Comfort Food to October 6th! You can preorder it online, at bookstores everywhere, or at BarefootContessa.com. Scroll through for a sneak peek of what’s inside – everything from Creamy Tomato Bisque to Boston Cream Pie!”

The person Garten loves trying new recipes out on most

Ina Garten’s inspiration for every recipe she undertakes has to most certainly be her husband of 51 years, Jeffrey. It’s clear from the Brooklyn-born cook’s Instagram account that she delights in cooking for her husband, and that the feeling is quite mutual.

As Garten says in her love letter cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, “Cooking is more gratifying and, frankly, more fun when I’m cooking for people I love—whether for two friends or a party of twelve. And for more than forty years my most constant and appreciative audience has been my sweet husband, Jeffrey.”

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The celebrity cook explained, in the collection of recipes dedicated to the love of her life, how her husband made it possible for her to pursue cooking as a career, through his encouragement and enjoyment.

“Just as important to me, though,” she wrote, “was that Jeffrey loved everything I cooked. His enthusiasm truly fueled the fire. I was making a home for us, which made me happy, and taking care of the love of my life.”

When does Jeffrey get to try her new recipes? He “doesn’t generally get to taste until it’s perfect,” as she told Food Network in 2016.

A peek at Garten’s recipe development process

The Make It Ahead author clearly makes the creation of a recipe look incredibly easy however, according to her, it’s anything but. It’s a meticulous process that involves much effort and attention to detail. As she explained in her conversation with Food Network, some recipes could take years for her to bring about.

“Sometimes I can nail it in a day by making it twice. But sometimes it takes me 25 times, and it could take two weeks. And there are some recipes that I’ve been working on for years that I’ve never kind of got.”

Garten explained how the seed of a recipe will make itself known in her mind.

“I have to start with something in my head — a flavor, a profile, a texture that I’m looking for — and I just keep going until I get to that point, and sometime it takes four years and sometimes it takes a day. It depends on the recipe.”

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