Ina Garten Says This Is the ‘Most Frightening Thing’ She’s Done in Her Career

Ina Garten has tackled challenges that have been outside of her comfort zone during her life, but there’s one aspect of her career that she describes as “sheer terror” and “the most frightening thing” she’s done. You’d never know if from watching her on the Barefoot Contessa cooking show, however.

Hoda Kotb, Ina Garten, and Jenna Bush Hager on Today show
Hoda Kotb, Ina Garten, and Jenna Bush Hager | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Ina Garten bought a specialty foods store on a whim

Garten got her start in cooking by buying a specialty foods store and she quickly wondered if she would regret it. She had been working as a government official when she saw a specialty food store called Barefoot Contessa was for sale. The purchase changed her life.

Given that she had no experience with owning and running a store, Garten found herself in the deep end and wondered if she had made the wrong decision. Her husband Jeffrey offered some exceptional advice that kept her moving forward, however.

During an interview for Munchies: The Podcast, Garten shared how the store’s former owner was generous with her time and expertise to help her learn the ropes.

The first weekend proved to be overwhelming for Garten. “At the end of the weekend, I just said to Jeffrey, ‘This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. This is going to be the worst summer of my life and I’ll never learn this business,’” she remembered telling him.

He had just the right thing to say. “He said to me, which was really smart, he said, ‘If you learn the business in a week, you’ll be bored in two weeks,’” she recalled. “And he was right.”

“From then on it was like this big sandbox. There was always something really interesting to do there,” Garten added.

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Garten was reluctant about doing a cooking show

Food Network really wanted Garten to host a cooking show but she was definitely not interested in their repeated offers.

During a 2017 interview with PBS NewsHour, correspondent William Brangham asked her, “I understand you were reluctant at first to do television?”

Garten shared how she just couldn’t imagine herself on TV. “Reluctant is the understatement,” she explained. “I just said ‘no’ over and over and over again. I just didn’t think I’d be good on TV. I just couldn’t imagine why anybody would watch it.”

“Food Network, fortunately, kept coming back again and again and they said, ‘just try it’ and I thought, ‘well I’ll just do 13 shows and then they’ll leave me alone.’ And happily, that was 15 years later … I’m still doing it,” she added.

She said that filming the show is still terrifying

In an interview with Food Network, Garten was asked if she watches her show, Barefoot Contessa. Not only does she avoid watching it, but she also said she still hasn’t gotten used to filming it.

“I couldn’t possibly,” she said about watching herself. “If I watched a show, I don’t think I’d ever do it again.”

She continued, “Filming is still the most frightening thing I’ve done. It’s just sheer terror. I haven’t gotten used to it yet.”