Ina Garten Admits She Was ‘Absolutely Terrified’ on First ‘Barefoot Contessa’ Episode and Still Feels That Fear 20 Years Later

Ina Garten has been on TV for 20 years but she said she still has “fear” when it comes to making her Barefoot Contessa show. Garten confessed that she was “terrified” on the first episode, but that fearful energy has worked out for the show’s success.

Ina Garten wears a bright blue shirt and cooks with Stephen Colbert who is seen drizzling oil
Ina Garten | Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

Ina Garten said her perspective on go-to meals changed during the pandemic

Garten stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Oct. 24 to talk about her new cookbook, Go-To Dinners.

She discussed how the pandemic changed her idea of what a “go-to dinner” is, explaining, “We were cooking all the time. It wasn’t like you could go out to dinner or anything.”

Garten continued, “So I was working on a cookbook, I was doing recipes for Instagram so people could figure out what to do with what’s in their pantry … and so I was doing a recipe for Instagram and then I realized I had to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I was like, oh my god, this is nuts!”

The Food Network host decided to shift gears and make less involved meals that didn’t sacrifice delicious flavors. “If I could make one thing, it was really great,” she said, mentioning an easy dish of poached eggs and tomato sauce. “It was just delicious and it was really satisfying but it was one thing.”

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Garten admitted that after 20 years on TV, it’s still terrifying for her

Colbert played a clip of Garten on the very first Barefoot Contessa episode, 20 years ago. Though she appeared cool and relaxed in that episode, Garten said it was challenging for her.

“What have you learned over 20 years?” Colbert asked. “How have you changed?”

Garten confessed, “I was absolutely terrified when I did that, just terrified.” The Barefoot Contessa star said she told the director she would improve over time as she got more comfortable but was told to hold on to some of that fearful energy.

“She said, ‘That energy, of like that fear, really keeps you alive. You show up,'” Garten recalled.

The nerves never went away, she said. “I’m still beside myself with fear. I don’t know why,” Garten said. “I just can’t get over it. But it seems to work so I’m not going to change it.”

Ina Garten celebrated 20 years of the ‘Barefoot Contessa’ show

On Sept. 1, Garten took to Instagram to celebrate her show’s anniversary. “It’s been 20 years since I filmed the first show of Barefoot Contessa for @foodnetwork,” she shared in the caption. “This is a clip from that original show! It was a Mediterranean feast and I made fresh lemonade. Was I talking fast enough?? LOL!!”

The Food Network host made fresh lemonade in the episode. “Not that stuff your mother used to bring home from the grocery store, but the real thing, made with freshly squeezed lemons,” Garten said. After juicing lemons, she mixed the juce with sugar, ice, and water. Garten said, for the first time, “How easy is that?”