Ina Garten's More Than Just A 'Celebrity Chef'

Many people who are serious about food look at celebrity chefs with a little disdain. They think Giada de Laurentiis, for example, has her own TV show and line of products not because she's an innovative or imaginative chef,...

Many people who are serious about food look at celebrity chefs with a little disdain. They think Giada de Laurentiis, for example, has her own TV show and line of products not because she's an innovative or imaginative chef, but because she's photogenic.

Ina Garten is different, though.

Garten isn't famous because she looks like Nigella Lawson or Rachael Ray. Her backstory: Her shop in The Hamptons, The Barefoot Contessa, had such a devoted following that Martha Stewart featured her on her show, and that led to a show of Garten's own, as well as a line of cookbooks. People like Garten for what she can do in the kitchen, not how she looks on their TV screens.

Ina Garten Cookbooks
Ina Garten Cookbooks - Images from www.barefootcontessa.com

Here's what I like about Garten:

  • Her recipes are generally pretty simple. They may call for hard-to-find or expensive ingredients once in awhile, but she generally sticks to having just a few components; you're not going to find a recipe that calls for 20 ingredients.
  • I wouldn't say Garten creates "fusion" food, because that's too trendy a term, but I like that she borrows elements from disparate cuisines. A salmon recipe might have a Japanese-style Ginger glaze, but she'll recommend serving it with a Warm French Lentil salad.
  • Garten is fancy, but not fussy. She encourages her readers to use high-quality ingredients and then aim for a low-stress, pleasant meal .Most of her cookbooks also feature sections on entertaining, too, so you can see how she pulls off casual-yet-refined dinner parties.

My favorite Ina Garten cookbooks are "Foolproof," "The Barefoot Contessa at Home" and "Barefoot in Paris."

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