‘Barefoot Contessa’ Star Ina Garten Says Her Happy Marriage to Jeffrey Is ‘Really Not Complicated’

What’s the secret to Ina Garten and Jeffrey Garten’s happy marriage? The Barefoot Contessa star said it’s “really not complicated” when it comes to their relationship.

Ina Garten and Jeffrey Garten smile as they pose for a photograph at the  Ailey American Dance Theater Opening Night Gala in 2012
Ina Garten and Jeffrey Garten | Jim Spellman/WireImage

How did Ina and Jeffrey Garten meet?

The Barefoot Contessa star met Jeffrey Garten when he was in college and she was visiting her brother at Dartmouth University in 1966.

“I met Jeffrey when I was 15, and I have to say, I just knew he was the one,” Ina shared with Today Food in 2018. “He’s kind, he’s smart, he’s funny, and he takes very good care of me. It’s wonderful.”

An article in Food Network Magazine told the Gartens’ love story. According to the article, Jeffrey saw Ina from the library window at college and said to his roommate, “Look at that girl, isn’t she beautiful?”

Jeffrey could tell Ina was a caring person. “She looked really smart and she looked nurturing,” he said. “She looked like she would take care of me.”

The couple went on their first date months later, with Ina calling it “a disaster” because they initially went to a bar. “I had never been to a bar in my life! The guy at the door says, ‘Where’s your ID?’ and I thought, ‘What ID?’” she recalled.

They went to a coffee shop instead and Jeffrey began sending her letters. “He wrote to me, like, every day. I couldn’t keep up with it!,” Ina shared.

Jeffrey and Ina had a long-distance relationship while she attended Syracuse University, with her taking a bus six hours each way to visit him on weekends. They got married in 1968.

Ina Garten reveals their relationship is ‘really not complicated’

During an appearance on the Cooking Up a Storm with Al Roker podcast, Garten gave a peek at her relationship with Jeffrey.

Roker noted, “It’s no secret, the two of you are — you guys are what, I think, all of us try to aspire to. That’s not to say that you guys have the perfect marriage. You’re human.”

Garten shared that her marriage might just be perfect. “It’s pretty great,” she said. “It’s actually great.”

Roker said, “You have a great marriage! When people look at that and ask you about it, what do you tell them? I’m sure people ask you, ‘What’s the secret?”

Garten answered with a chuckle, “Nora Efron used to say, when people asked her about her marriage, she’d say … it’s three words. She’d say, ‘Marry an Italian.’”

The Food Network host continued, “And would say it’s two words — marry Jeffrey.”

“I mean, he’s just a sweetheart … he’s just kind, funny, smart, generous. He just wants me to be happy and I want the same thing for him,” she noted. “It’s really not complicated.”

Ina Garten said her husband is ‘the worst barometer’ of her cooking

Roker noted how Jeffrey is a “taster” for all of the Barefoot Contessa star’s recipes. “Is Jeffrey, in a sense, your barometer for what’s gonna be good?” he asked.

Jeffrey’s the worst barometer,” she said. “The worst. I’ve never made something for him that he didn’t say ‘This is the best thing you’ve ever made.’”

She added, “He’s just terrible.”

“But then I think he also thinks that if he ever says ‘this isn’t quite as good as everything else,’ I’ll stop cooking for him. So, he’s a smart guy, right?”

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