7 Surprising Facts We Didn't Know About Ina Garten

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Today marks the release of Ina Garten's 11th cookbook, yet even after devouring every recipe intro and story included in her last 10 books, we're somehow still learning new things about the Barefoot Contessa. In interviews leading up to the release of Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks, Garten has shared a number of revealing facts about herself and her career.

1. Why Ina Garten started cooking

Garten has become famous for her recipes, but surprisingly, she wasn't encouraged to cook when she was growing up. In a recent interview with Katie Couric for the Skimm, the Food Network star explained, "I wasn't allowed to cook at home." Instead of household tasks, her mother put an emphasis on studying, but Ina eventually rebelled against that. Laughing, Garten added, "Maybe that's why I do it. Just like, I can do whatever I want now."
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2. The Barefoot Contessa theme music

The upbeat tinkling tune that kicks off each episode of Ina Garten’s Food Network series Barefoot Contessa was inspired by music Garten loved to listen to herself. In an interview with the Huffington Post published yesterday, the cookbook author explained, "I sent the person who was writing the theme song some music that I like and it came from that. At the time — and even now — I was listening to a series of mixes put out by a hotel in Paris called Hôtel Costes. The music is Moroccan, it’s American, it’s French — it's all kinds of different music, and the writer took the feeling of that music and wrote the theme song."

3. Ina Garten's most important business lessons

According to Garten, when it comes to running a business, your employees' personalities are more important than their knowledge. She told Couric that after running a specialty food store for over 20 years, the most important business lesson she's learned is to hire happy people. "You can't teach somebody how to be happy, but what you can do is teach them about cheese." That philosophy is demonstrated by Garten's beloved assistance Lidey. In a recent video shared on her Instagram account, the Barefoot Contessa explained, "When she first came, she loved to cook but didn't know the right way to do things." That didn't matter to Garten, however, because she knew she could teach her.

A post shared by Ina Garten (@inagarten) on

4. The one recipe Ina Garten hasn't gotten right

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Ina Garten revealed to the Huffington Post that she often makes a recipes 10 or 20 different times in a variety of settings and situations before putting it in one of her cookbooks. This is how she ensures all her recipes will come out "perfectly every time." Garten admitted that there is one recipe that has never quite made it through her rigorous cookbook test, and it’s surprising. "There’s one that I've been working on for six years and it hasn’t made it into a book yet: Boston cream pie. It's a really traditional recipe, but I want to give it more flavor...There are so many different things that have to go right for it to be good, and I’m close but I'm not there yet."

5. Ina Garten's all-time favorite recipe

After having written 11 cookbooks, it's, of course, very difficult to choose one favorite recipe, but when pressed, Garten was able to. She really loves her fresh fig and ricotta cake, which is pretty surprising since many serious chefs tend to turn their noses up at dessert. This recipe's versatility makes it very appealing, however. "This is actually a great base cake because you can do it with plums on top, or peaches, or any kind of really flavorful fruit will go on top," she explains in the Skimm video with Couric.

6. Ina Garten’s signature look

Fans have probably noticed by now that Garten seems to always wear a similar outfit, the key component of which is a button-down shirt. She told the Huffington Post that the outfit has a utilitarian purpose. "I don't like wearing an apron when I’m working, so I find a denim shirt or a corduroy shirt and I buy 25 of them. It's like a uniform and I don’t have to worry about it. They can all just go into the washing machine." Pretty smart.

7. What kind of cook Ina Garten is

Garten's soothing presence on a TV screen and tone in her cookbooks is enough to convince almost anyone they handle any recipe. It turns out, though, that coolness is an act. She revealed to Couric that she's actually "the most nervous cook you ever met." Apparently, the Barefoot Contessa is constantly "terrified" her dishes aren't going to come out right. She sure fooled us. Garten's soothing presence on a TV screen and tone in her cookbooks is enough to convince almost anyone they handle any recipe. It turns out, though, that coolness is an act. She revealed to Couric that she's actually "the most nervous cook you ever met." Apparently, the Barefoot Contessa is constantly "terrified" her dishes aren't going to come out right. She sure fooled us.
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