‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Revealed the 3 Things She Always Keeps On Her Kitchen Counter

Ina Garten has become a Food Network sensation since her show, Barefoot Contessa, premiered back in 2003. Before that, Garten ran a specialty foods store of the same name, which is where she learned some catering skill, such as how to set up a buffet table at a party.

She now shares similar tricks with her viewers, in addition to food and cocktail recipes. But when it comes to cooking in her own home , Garten always has three things available to her on her kitchen counter.

Ina Garten at a Barefoot Contessa book signing in 2008
Ina Garten at a Barefoot Contessa book signing in 2008 | Michael Bezjian/WireImage

‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten doesn’t have any professional culinary training

Though Garten has written a dozen cookbooks and has hosted a Food Network show for 18 years, she didn’t grow up aspiring to become a celebrity chef. Garten actually built a career working for the White House under the Office of Management & Budget.

Garten credits her husband, Jeffrey Garten, with helping her take up a new career — he told her that she needed to do something she loves. She put in an offer on a small specialty foods store in East Hampton, New York, and it was almost immediately accepted. From there, she and her husband relocated, and she went to work at the store from 1978 up until 2003, when her Food Network show started filming. Garten once revealed to PBS that she taught herself to cook using Julia Child’s cookbooks, and that it has helped her create better recipes for her consumers, since she doesn’t have any professional training.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten raises a glass
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten raises a glass | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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Ina Garten always keeps these 3 things on her kitchen counter for ease

Garten might not have any professional training, but she has certainly spent years of life in the kitchen. And throughout quarantine, Garten has continued to cook despite her show’s production being suspended. In November 2020, Garten recorded a video for New York Times Cooking, where she highlighted the three most important items that she always keeps on her kitchen counter.

The first category of Garten’s countertop items are specific ingredients that she prefers to keep at room temperature. “Garlic, and oranges,” she said. “Eggs are better at room temperature on baking, and lemons are better at room temperature because they have more juice.”

Garten’s next favorite countertop item is a jar of silver spoons. “I’m always picking up something and stirring, or tasting something,” she said. “And I just buy antique silver spoons. They’re really inexpensive.”

For the last countertop item, Garten loves butcher blocks. “They’re really important; I have lots of them,” she said. Butcher blocks are essentially thick pieces of wood used for slicing, chopping, and preparing meals.

Ina Garten has continued safely entertaining despite the pandemic

Garten has been able to get plenty of use out of her kitchen despite the pandemic. While she’s had to limit the people at her gatherings, Garten has continued safely hosting dinner parties. She revealed on her blog that she’s only been entertaining members of one household at a time, and she purposely sets the table so that guests can be six feet apart. Garten also explained that she’s only hosting dinners outside, even in the cold weather, so she adds outdoor heaters and sets up a fire, plus provides blankets, to keep guests warm.