Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, Said She Couldn’t Keep Up With One Of Jeffrey’s Sweet Habits

Ina Garten and her husband, Jeffrey, have, by far one of the sweetest, albeit quiet, love stories in Hollywood. Garten, a Food Network chef, and Jeffrey, Dean Emeritus at the Yale School of Management, met when they were just teenagers and have been married for more than 50 years. Before their marriage, Garten and Jeffrey’s relationship survived the long distance. Jeffrey had a sweet habit that Garten has said was difficult to keep up during their early romance.  

Ina Garten and Jeffrey met when he first spied her walking on a college campus 

Garten was just 15 when Jeffrey first saw her walking across the campus of Dartmouth. She was on a trip to visit her brother, who was a student at the time. Garten had heard nothing of Jeffrey at that time, but he knew that he wanted to meet her. That meeting didn’t happen during her first trip to the prestigious school, though. Instead, Jeffrey attempted to woo his future wife with a series of letters. 

Ina Garten and Jeffrey Garten attend Disney's 'Mary Poppins Returns'
Ina Garten and Jeffrey Garten | Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney

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Eventually, the pair did manage to meet up and go on a first date, although both admit it didn’t start well. After the first date, the couple knew that they wanted to be together. Jeffrey was still at Dartmouth, and Garten was set to enter Syracuse University, pushing the pair into a long-distance romance. They both knew they wanted to continue the relationship, though. 

Garten went off to Syracuse University, but their relationship survived the distance 

Garten has been open about her sweet romance, but the early days weren’t exactly traditional. She was off to Syracuse University, which dragged her more than six hours away, by bus, from her love at Dartmouth. The pair made it work, and Garten visited Jeffrey almost weekly and sent care packages in between. 

In an interview with Food Network Magazine, Jeffrey explained that, at the time, many of his friends were pursuing different types of girls but regularly stepped into his room to see what Garten had sent him from afar. Sometimes it was brownies. Other times, it was a sweater that she had knit herself. She became a part of the group quickly. 

Jeffrey had a habit of writing Garten letters every day

So, how did Jeffrey keep his romance alive and his interest known while the couple were so far away from each other? He went back to basics and continue to write love letters. In fact, he wrote a letter nearly every day, according to Garten. She said he wrote her so many letters that she found it difficult even to keep up. His strategy worked, though. Garten and Jeffrey were married in Connecticut. She was a 20-year-old bride, and he, a recent graduate, had enlisted in the military as an officer. 

Jeffrey Garten and Ina Garten attend the "Barefoot Under the Stars" event at the Wolffer Estate Vineyard
Jeffrey Garten and Ina Garten | Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images

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Even now, Jeffrey has cute habits that help to show his wife that he loves her. In the same interview with Food Network Magazine, Jeffrey admitted he has a bit of a “shrine” to his wife in his Southport, Connecticut home, the house he occupies while teaching at Yale. Jeffrey has taken magazine clipping and newspaper articles about Garten and placed them on the walls. The shrine helps him feel close to his wife, whom he is exceptionally proud of. Garten, however, suggests it looks like he’s trying to solve a crime.