Friday, November 16, 2012

A Barefoot Contessa Week

Ina Garten was in town this week to promote her newest cookbook Foolproof.  The title could actually be applied to all of her cookbooks (there are now a total of eight) because her recipes are always foolproof and this is probably the distinctive feature that makes her books so popular.  The recipes work so well!  After attending a fabulous event last night here in Los Angeles -- she was interviewed by KCRW's Evan Kleiman at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre -- I can think of two other adjectives that define Ina Garten's success:  elegant and earthy.  She mentioned those two words herself when she explained why she decided to keep the title Barefoot Contessa (she actually inherited it from the previous owner of the East Hampton specialty food store where her culinary career began) as her trademark name.  As she told an audience of about 1,000 enthusiastic fans, "To me it is all about elegance and earthiness."

And that is the perfect way to describe her personality as we saw it onstage last night at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. Ina Garten is bright, elegant, funny, sophisticated, and down to earth.  The key to her success is that she is the kind of person that everyone can relate to.  She is also the opposite of a fussy cook.  She is just like most of us who are not professional chefs and get a little nervous about entertaining: she makes a cooking schedule when she entertains to alleviate unnecessary stress, doesn't ever try a new recipe on her guests before cooking it first, doesn't like to buy fancy equipment, and prefers recipes whose ingredients can all be purchased at the supermarket.  These are ideas that resonate with home cooks.

"Barefoot Contessa Foolproof" is Ina Garten's eighth cookbook

She came to Los Angeles on Thursday to sign her new cookbook.  Here she is at Williams-Sonoma in Santa Monica. 

The night before the book signing, the store held a cooking class which I attended.  The demonstration class included three recipes from Ina's new cookbook:

Balsamic roasted beet salad

Chicken with wild mushrooms

Salted caramel brownies

They were all delicious and easy dishes you will definitely want to make!


At last night's event at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Evan Kleiman asked Ina questions that members of the audience had submitted.  We all laughed when Evan told Ina that there was an abundance of  questions about Jeffrey, Ina's husband.  Ina said that if she was hit by a bus, there would be millions of women across the country lining up to bring him roast chicken.  She told us stories about her culinary beginnings and how her love of cooking grew into eight cookbooks and a very popular television show.  These stories are already known to many of us through her cookbooks.  But we learned a few new facts last night:

Her favorite soundtrack to play during her dinner parties is a series of CDs called Hotel Costes
Her favorite skin cream is Roc
She never cooks just for herself; she believes cooking is all about sharing
She got the design ideas for her cookbooks from her travels
The new season of her television show will be premiering in January, 2013 and will feature episodes filmed in Napa and San Francisco

Image via here

We all left the event excited to try the recipes in Ina's newest cookbook and inspired to keep our cooking simple, earthy, elegant, and straight forward.  Just like Ina!


  1. Sunday,

    My goodness you were busy! You should have called the post "A Week with Ina." I am a huge fan of Ina, I love her books and have them all and use them frequently.

    I cannot wait to see what you whip up using them. How did you like the beet salad, would you recommend it?

    Also, I wrote about a favorite cookbook of mine, maybe you have it. Eat, Feed, Autumn Winter by anne Bramley. It is beautiful, filled with fabulous recipes and wonderful food facts. I think if you do not have it that you would enjoy it and I think you can get it on Amazon for 5.00.

    Have a beautiful weekend, Elizabeth

  2. I am so excited that the latest Barefoot Contessa book is out! I knew it would be, somehow forgot, and now I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl. I love Ina, her show, her books and she never disappoints me.

    I had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing for The Barefoot Contessa at Home. She is every bit as elegant and earthy as you imply, Sunday.

    Thanks for making me evening bright!

  3. Love Ina! Great post, thanks for sharing :D

  4. I love Ina and have a few of her cookbooks. No recipe I made has ever let me down! I also love to watch her show on TV as I live on Long Island and have been to many of the stores and markets that she visits on her show!

  5. I love Ina, she's fabulous and would love to have been at the Ebell. Thanks for sharing your glimpse into her world. I immediately went on line and ordered a Hotel Costes CD and her new book will be on Santa's Christmas list.

  6. What fun! Lucky you for being able to enjoy Ina and the cooking class. I'll bet you're quite inspired! I love her cookbooks and will also be adding this new one to my Christmas list. My family knows a cookbook is a great gift to give me, as they reap the benefits of my enthusiasm. Have a wonderful weekend!

  7. Love her.
    Her recipes always, always work.
    But... she never cooks for herself????
    What a shame.

  8. Oh what fun!
    I love her cookbooks and used to watch her on the TV all the time.
    She has a very infectious laugh...
    I'd very much enjoy seeing her cook in person.

  9. Interesting. I work in WS in our area, and we cooked that same meal Wednesday night. Have been thinking of venturing to Cleveland in March just to hear her speak and have one of her books signed. What do you think? Worth an eight hour drive? She's my favorite cook; I've liked her for so long I feel like I discovered her.

    1. Oh my, that is a difficult question to answer. Not sure about driving 8 hours...I would just buy the cookbook and enjoy the recipes. Her new TV show is starting soon and it should be good!

  10. I've passed on the Sunshine Award to you pop over and visit my blog for the details!

    1. Thank you so much! I look forward to reading about it. Hope you had a great weekend.
      xo Sunday

  11. I love Ina - she is the cook I'd most love to meet because of the qualities you described. How lucky to be able to see her in person! I will definitely be watching the new episodes of her show.

  12. What a fun event! Like you and most everyone else, I love and own I think all of Ina's books. It's amazing to think there are still more of her easy and appealing recipes to come!!

  13. sunday, I thought you'd be interested - on today's barefoot contessa, she made a dessert with a pastry chef called Laura Donnelly. The name sounded familiar to me, esp. when they mentioned her connection to the Hamptons. Indeed she is the granddaughter of Sara and Gerald Murphy. Seeing a living, breathing descendant of this couple Ive read so much about talk toffee was thrilling! Upon more research it looks as she participates in fundraisers and shares treasures from The Dunes, etc. How interesting it would be to attend one of her events.

    1. Hi Monique! I did know that she is the granddaughter of the Murphys. Isn't that exciting! I was flipping through one of Ina's cookbooks and came upon the recipe for a cocktail, Juice of a few flowers. Ina writes that Laura's grandfather Gerald Murphy used to make it with great flourish every night when they had guests for cocktails. Of course I was amazed because I knew all about the cocktail and the Murphys' parties from "Everyone Was so Young" the book about Gerald and Sara. Yes, I would love to hear her speak at one of her fundraisers.
      xx Sunday