‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Revealed the 1 Thing People Do Wrong When Hosting a Party: ‘It Makes Me Crazy’

Ina Garten has been the star of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa since 2003. Garten’s cooking career started when she opened a specialty foods store in East Hampton in 1978. Since then, she’s made a living sharing her easy recipe with millions of fans.

Garten has a love for entertaining, too — and people often do one thing wrong when hosting that drives her “crazy.”

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten in 2018
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten in 2018 | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ina Garten’s specialty store has helped her not only to cook but also to be a better host

When Garten purchased her specialty foods store, she wasn’t sure what to expect. The Brooklyn native had never even been to the Hamptons before the purchase. However, once she bought the shop, which was called Barefoot Contessa, she immediately fell more in love with food.

Garten has credited Julia Child’s cookbooks for teaching her how to cook. And through the time spent at her store, which she sold in 1996, Garten learned quite a bit about entertaining and catering. She often discusses these tips on her show, such as how to set up a buffet (place dishes on upside-down bowls to create elevation) and how to create the perfect outdoor dining setup.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker

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Ina Garten says one hosting mistake makes her ‘crazy’

Garten doesn’t shy away from entertaining, and she has a few easy tricks for those looking to throw the perfect party. The Food Network star loves whipping up a massive salad as a side dish. It’s easy and nice to look at, which makes it perfect for any gathering. Garten puts as much effort into presentation as she does flavor. The best way to serve a filet of steak? Carve only half, then leave the other half not carved on the dish to make it picture perfect.

Garten has been to plenty of parties in her lifetime, and there is always one thing that drives her crazy: Cocktails don’t need to be individually made. Garten loves time-saving techniques, and watching someone create countless cocktails when they could serve a pitcher of one drink doesn’t make sense to her. “Most cocktails are made one cocktail at a time — it makes me crazy,” Garten said during a Barefoot Contessa episode. “I like a big pitcher for a party.” Garten has turned almost every cocktail into a pitcher — bloody Marys, Cosmopolitans, mojitos, and more.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ina Garten has continued hosting friends during the pandemic

Despite the pandemic, Garten has found a way to safely entertain. She’s continued hosting gatherings, but entirely outdoors, distanced, and only members from one household at a time.

Garten came up with a few tips for those looking to do the same. First, she keeps the table decorated with plants, candles, etc. to make the situation feel homier. Then, since it’s still chilly at night, Garten provides outdoor heaters and blankets to keep guests comfortable. And finally, she goes light on the dinner menu, only making the easiest dishes. Garten adds that pizza and a salad is the perfect type of meal for pandemic entertaining.