Ina Garten Still Knows How to Do the ‘First Thing’ She ‘Had to Learn’ at Her Barefoot Contessa Store: ‘Like Riding a Bicycle’

TL; DR: 

  • Ina Garten owned a specialty food store, called Barefoot Contessa, for 18 years.
  • She once revealed slicing salmon was the first thing she learned how to do at the store.
  • Ina Garten demonstrated how to slice salmon on Barefoot Contessa

Ina Garten sold her Barefoot Contessa store in the 1990s but she still remembers what she learned there. On her Food Network show of the same name, she demonstrated how to slice salmon, revealing it was the first thing she “had to learn” how to do at the store. 

Ina Garten owned Barefoot Contessa from 1978 to 1996

Garten left a job at the White House to pursue a career in food. In 1978, she bought Barefoot Contessa after seeing it in a newspaper ad. She drove to Westhampton, New York, made a low offer, and became the store’s new owner. 

What started out as a 300-square-foot specialty good store grew to become something of a staple in the Hamptons. After nearly 20 years of running Barefoot Contessa, Garten was ready to begin a new chapter of her life. 

So, in 1996, she sold the store to two of her employees. Barefoot Contessa remained open as Garten began writing a cookbook.

Later, in 2003, the store permanently closed its doors, a year after Garten made her Food Network debut. In the years since Garten’s shared she has no plans to ever reopen Barefoot Contessa.

Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa store, where she learned to slice salmon
The Barefoot Contessa store | Matthew Peyton/Getty Images

Ina Garten learned how to slice salmon at her Barefoot Contessa store

Garten’s Barefoot Contessa store may be closed but the cookbook author still remembers — and shares — what she learned there. On Food Network‘s Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro she thought back to learning how to slice salmon at the store.

“When I first bought my specialty food store, Barefoot Contessa, the first thing I had to learn was how to slice salmon,” she said. Garten went on, recalling she’d felt “really nervous because it’s not so easy.” 

From there she demonstrated how to do it. “You have a very thin knife and it’s very flexible,” she said before adding, “you just go right along the top.” 

“When I first learned, the woman who taught me actually said, ‘slice on one side and then the other side until you get really comfortable,’ which is really good advice,” she explained. 

“It takes a little practice but you can get it,” she added. “You don’t want it thicker in some places and thinner in others. You want it sort of paper-thin all the way through.”

Ina Garten suggested using a smoked salmon knife

Garten has a short list of kitchen necessities. But when it comes to slicing salmon she recommends a smoked salmon knife, which she used to slice the fish on Barefoot Contessa

“This is actually called a smoked salmon knife so if you really want to treat yourself it’s not a bad idea because you really can’t do this with a chef’s knife,” she said. “It would be impossible, like trying to do surgery with a screwdriver.” 

“You just always need the right utensils for the right job,” she added. 

“Turns out, after 20 years I still remember how to do this,” Garten concluded, comparing it to riding a bicycle. “Once you’ve mastered it you never forget how to do it.” 

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