Since the late 1970s, when she was the proprietor of the first Barefoot Contessa gourmet food store, Ina Garten has been revered as a leader in the culinary industry. In 1999, she published a cookbook, and by 2002, she was the star of her very own program on the Food Network. When it comes to her professional life, it is abundantly evident that the astute entrepreneur Ina has ambition and drive; yet, none of this would have been possible without her partner and cheerleader of more than half a century, her husband Jeffrey Garten.
Since she was a youngster, Ina always had an interest in science, and she also enjoyed trying out new recipes, so she naturally gravitated toward a career in the culinary arts. This passion was rekindled when she went on a vacation to Paris, France, where she became enamored with the open-air markets as well as the fresh food and products they offered. She practiced her abilities by throwing dinner parties in the United States, using the book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child as a guide.
After working for the government for a while, Ina decided to open her own grocery store in Westhampton Beach, New York, and named it Barefoot Contessa. She maintained the business’s original name, which the previous proprietors had given it as an homage to the Ava Gardner film of the same name, and she oversaw its rapid expansion throughout her tenure as manager. As the popularity of the shop increased, it became well-known for the mouthwatering specialties it offered, such as lobster Cobb salad, the majority of which Ina had created herself.
Even as the boutique started to attract famous people as customers and gain recognition, the ever-ambitious Ina was already thinking forward to the future and trying to figure out what the next step in her career would be. She just knew one thing, and that was that no matter what happened in the future for her, her husband Jeffrey would be her unwavering supporter and number one fan.
Ina finally took the next logical step in her professional life in 1999 when she made the decision to enter the publishing industry. She continued the legacy of the now-famous Barefoot Contessa by writing “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook,” which became a surprise hit and required tens of thousands of reprints to keep up with demand. Ina became a prominent figure in the publishing world as a result of the popularity of her subsequent cookbooks, of which this was the first. After that, the bestselling author of more than a dozen cookbooks turned her attention to the cameras.
After marketing her cookbooks on Martha Stewart’s program, Ina started getting offers to host her own show on the Food Network. These offers came after she made appearances on Stewart’s show. She declined these proposals in the beginning until the creators of “Nigella Bites” became involved. In 2002, Ina was able to get a contract for a series called “Barefoot Contessa,” which would go on to become a smash success and win many Daytime Emmy Awards over the course of its run. The program is centered on Ina’s passion for fresh fruit and ingredients as she whips up a storm in the kitchen for a group of close friends and family, including her husband Jeffrey, who regularly appears on the show assisting Ina or enjoying the cuisine that she has prepared. Their strong connection shines through in every encounter they have, and as a result, it is easy to believe that they just tied the knot yesterday. However, it is not even close to being the case.
As Ina and her husband prepared to celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary together, the show host went on “The Drew Barrymore Show” to reminisce about their early days together, including how young Ina was when she and her husband first met, how they got their start dating, and the endearing ways in which they would stay in touch whenever they were separated from one another. Ina and her husband are currently celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary together.
During her visit to the talk show in November 2022, Ina revealed to Drew Barrymore that she had first come into contact with Jeffrey when she was a little child and he was a student at Dartmouth College at the time. When he saw her, she was there on campus on a visit. That’s how he first saw her. He was able to gain her phone number through a common acquaintance, and he used it to give her a call and ask her out on a date. She said that their very first date was a complete bust since she had the terrible idea of taking them on a date to a club, but because she was young, they were not allowed to enter. She recalled that when she had later asked Jeffrey why he wanted to take her out again after that, he had said “I thought you needed taking care of,” which had melted the hearts of the audience and viewers everywhere. She said that she had later asked Jeffrey why he wanted to take her out again after that.
Ina also shared the following statement with People: “He spotted me on the street, and then he wrote me a letter with a picture of himself included in it.” I can still vividly recall racing into the house and yelling at my mother, “Mom, Mom, you have got to see this image of this person.” He is really adorable!’”
By 1968, the couple had tied the knot, and they continue to seem enamoured with one another even after all these years. Ina’s admiration for her husband was on full display in 2018, when she gushed over him by saying, “He’s absolutely the nicest buddy someone could possibly have.” She enthused over his lighthearted side, which she felt was a wonderful complement to the more serious aspect he exhibited.
“He plays this endearing sort of idiot who walks in and says, ‘Oh this is lovely, what’s in it?’” In point of fact, he is really bright and has some very intriguing things to say about both the globe and the economy. I’m still really in awe of him because his career has encompassed the government, academics, banking, and writing – he’s produced numerous books — and he’s accomplished so much.
Despite the fact that Jeffrey’s resourcefulness required them to spend significant time apart as he served in the military during the Vietnam War for a period of four years, their relationship remained strong.
Jeffrey said that he was going to be stationed in Thailand for a year after they were married, but that he intended to remain in constant contact with his wife. He said, “I wrote to Ina every single day,” adding, “During the whole year, I was only able to contact her once.”
This was the beginning of a lifetime of correspondence between the two people, since they would be forced to live apart for many more years due to their respective careers. While Jeffrey was stationed in Japan for work in the 1980s, Ina stayed in the United States. Jeffrey stated, “For a few of years we traveled between Tokyo and the Hamptons,” and he indicated that letters once again came into play, but with a modern spin on the concept.
Ina said, “He would write me messages all day long, and then he would fax them to me at night so that when I woke up in the morning, I would already have them.”
Even when he moved back to the United States, Ina said that her husband Jeffrey spent decades commuting to Connecticut during the week to teach at Yale while she worked from their home in East Hampton, New York. They were only able to spend the weekday evenings and weekends together.
Ina said that the routine of her husband leaving on Monday and returning on Friday had been in place for the last four decades. However, with the advancement of technology, it became much simpler for Jeffrey to communicate with his wife, regardless of where she was located.
“When we’re not together, I’ll send her five or six SMS each day,” Jeffrey said with adoration. “I love her so much.” “I find it really interesting to look at her schedule. It doesn’t seem like we’re apart at all since I can picture where she is and what she’s doing in my head. My ideal situation would be to be able to spend seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day with her.