‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Once Revealed That She ‘Rarely’ Gets Recipe Inspiration From Eating at Restaurants

Ina Garten has been cooking for decades. The Food Network star has had her own show, Barefoot Contessa, since 2003. But she’s been developing recipes since she purchased her Barefoot Contessa specialty foods store in 1978. Over the years, Garten has created thousands of dishes. And when it comes to finding inspiration, Garten said she “rarely” gets it from dining out.

Ina Garten raising a glass and smiling
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten sometimes spends years making the perfect recipe

Ina Garten’s recipes don’t often develop overnight. The Barefoot Contessa star actually spends quite a bit of time developing a recipe to perfection. To Garten, there’s no sense in publishing a recipe (or filming it for her show) if it’s not the absolute best it can be.

Garten has said in the past that it could take her as many as 10 tries to get a recipe just right. While some dishes are easier and are done in, say, two tries, the more complex ones take longer. Garten’s assistant helps her through the process, even testing the final recipe to make sure it would make sense to a reader.

Some of Garten’s dishes have even taken years to perfect. Her Boston cream pie was six years in the making and finally ended up in her most recent cookbook, “Modern Comfort Food,” which was released in 2020.

Ina Garten is well-known for her perfected roast chicken recipe.

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Ina Garten once said she ‘rarely’ gets recipe inspiration from restaurants

Garten takes recipe inspiration from almost anywhere. Though it most often comes from the dishes she ate as a child, she’s also been to dinner parties and has been inspired to recreate dishes others have made.

“[My inspiration comes from] everywhere,” Garten once told Epicurious. “It comes from a remembered flavor — something that I had as a child. It comes from a friend … It comes from something I ate in Milan … I think you get ideas by getting out there.”

However, there was one place that Garten revealed she “rarely” finds inspiration: A typical restaurant.

“It rarely comes from restaurants because restaurant food is a whole different category,” Garten said. “It usually comes from something I ate at somebody’s house or a specialty food store or something like that.”

Ina Garten holding a cookbook
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Noam Galai/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Ina Garten doesn’t let her husband try a recipe until it’s perfect

Though Jeffrey makes frequent appearances on Garten’s show to sample her food (and she loves cooking just for him), he actually isn’t often a part of the recipe development process. Rather, Garten doesn’t let Jeffrey taste one of her dishes until she’s ensured that it’s perfect. Garten doesn’t have any hard and fast rules about Jeffrey sampling her food, but he typically doesn’t come around while she’s planning a recipe.

“If he comes by he would [sample a recipe], but not generally,” Garten once told Food Network. “He doesn’t generally get to taste until it’s perfect.” Jeffrey has always been one of Garten’s biggest supporters.