‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten Says She Hires ‘Happy People’

If you’ve ever dreamed of working for Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten, you’ll need to make sure you have the right attitude. The Food Network cook says she makes sure to hire “happy people.” Here’s what Garten once said about how she chooses the people who work with her.

Ina Garten likes to entertain in the kitchen

Ina Garten
Ina Garten | Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker

During her interview with Katie Couric, Garten says she enjoys entertaining in the kitchen. This way, she can still be part of the action and interact with her guests. She doesn’t want to feel like she’s cut off from the people she’s spending time with.

“I like to entertain in the kitchen,” says Garten. “Because if I have to go slice the meat or get the desert ready, I’m still part of the party.”

Ina Garten has the best work commute

When Couric asks Garten how she gets to work, she jokes, “It’s a long journey, but I can manage it.” Garten’s trip to work is just across the lawn. She films her show and does most of her work at her office in a barn right across from her house.

In a separate interview, she told PBS her commute basically consists of her walking across her lawn to meet the two people who work with her, Barbara Libath and Lidey Heuck. She says the walk is about 100 yards. “It’s pretty amazing,” Garten says of her commute.

Ina Garten hires ‘happy’ people

Ina Garten with Seth Meyers
Ina Garten with Seth Meyers | Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

When asked what she learned about running a business, Garten says she learned how important it is to hire “happy” people. According to her, happy people are teachable.

“It took me a while to figure out I wanted to hire happy people,” says Garten. “You can’t teach somebody how to be happy, but what you can do is teach them about cheese.”

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ loves her job

Part of the reason Garten enjoys her job is because she gets to cook whenever she wants. She told Couric she wasn’t allowed to cook at home when she was younger.

“I wasn’t allowed to cook at home,” says Garten. “My mother used to say, ‘You study; I’m doing the cooking. I don’t know, maybe that’s why [I cook]. I can do whatever I want now!” Garten agrees with Couric when she says it was her “ultimate rebellion.”

The Food Network cook also agrees that she was a “late bloomer” when it came to turning cooking into a career. Garten says she owes her success to Jeffrey because he encouraged her to go out and make a career for herself.

 Garten got the idea to write a cookbook after she sold her specialty foods shop, called Barefoot Contessa. She says after a year she realized she had to do something with her time, so she decided to write a cookbook. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, which was released in 1999, became a huge hit and helped launch her Food Network career.

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