Ina Garten Follows 2 Big Rules for Cooking and Entertaining That Sum up the Barefoot Contessa Philosophy Perfectly

Ina Garten lives by some rules when it comes to cooking, entertaining, and designing her kitchen and they echo the Barefoot Contessa star’s philosophy perfectly. Garten isn’t fussy and loves simplicity — and that translates to every recipe and every dinner party.

Ina Garten and Seth Meyers on Late Night With Seth Meyers
Ina Garten and Seth Meyers | Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Ina Garten shared the rules she follows

During a 2009 interview with House Beautiful magazine, Garten shared some of the ways she designed her kitchen space to suit her needs while still looking elegant and maintaining simplicity.

The interviewer asked Garten how her fans can “take away a little Contessa style of their own” and Garten shared her philosophy. “Well I think there are sort of a few rules that I play by and I think that’s: keep it really simple and keep it true to what’s fun.”

“Anything that gets in the way of that is really counterintuitive,” she noted.

Garten explained why she doesn’t make things overly complicated when entertaining

The Barefoot Contessa star shared how the menu doesn’t have to be over-the-top when entertaining. “I just think when people come, they’re expecting something fabulous,” Garten continued. “And when they end up having a simple meal in the kitchen — if it’s turkey meatloaf and parmesan smashed potatoes — they feel comfortable, they feel relaxed, and that’s when people really connect with each other.”

“And that for me is the goal,” she added. “I think the takeaway is: keep the kitchen simple, keep the food simple, and you’ll have a really good time.”

The interviewer noted that if the host is having a good time, it trickles down to the guests and Garten agreed. “And if you’re exhausted because you’ve made this incredibly complicated thing with like, anchovy foam, or you’ve started with a recipe you’ve never made before, you’re going to be exhausted and your guests will be exhausted too,” she explained.

“Just get past it, make it really simple. It takes a lot of confidence to do that but I think people will find the simpler you keep the kitchen, the simpler you keep the food, the more fun people will have,” she added. “And that’s really what it’s all about.”

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Ina Garten said the best part of cooking for friends isn’t the food

Garten loves to entertain her friends and said she really enjoys the community aspect of cooking more than the actual food.

In a video promoting her cookbook Cooking for Jeffrey in 2016, Garten shared why she enjoys the process so much.

“The thing I like most about cooking is actually that when you cook, everybody shows up,” Garten explained. “It’s not really the cooking part, it’s the community part.”

“One of the things I think people get really worked up about is doing a meal that impresses everybody,” she continued. “What I try and do is something where you can buy really simple ingredients, cook something really simple and everybody loves it.”

“I love to take an idea of something I love, like lemon chicken, and just make it as simple as it can possibly be and as delicious,” Garten added.