PaperCity Magazine

November 2018- Houston

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Gardner performed one of the most sultry dances ever to grace the silver screen. Did Garten consider changing the name? "I thought I'd keep the name for now and change it later," she replies. But later never came. Barefoot Contessa was meant to last. "It's elegant and earthy," she explains, with a natural instinct for the passionate shoppers, then readers, then viewers, waiting out there for her to find them. "I ran the whole thing myself — business, everything," she says. In the store from 6 am to 8 pm, she soon extended her working day to midnight, sometimes catering six or eight parties in a single evening. It was too much — or rather, too little. She had mastered Barefoot Contessa. The thrill was gone. "I like working scared," she confides. "There was no longer challenge in the store." So she sold it to her employees and spent a wretched year trying to figure out the next chapter of her life. That's what you have to do, a therapist friend told her, if you're ever going to find your way to something new. "I studied the stock market," she says. "I studied Warren Buffett and real estate." Finding no answers, and needing to fill her time, she submitted a cookbook proposal to Clarkson Potter. To her astonishment, it was accepted. Then the Food Network came calling, over and over. Finally she gave them a tentative yes. And a star, as they say, was born. Now a production company comes over from London twice a year to shoot eight shows a season, mostly in the barn she built next door to her house in East Hampton. Equipped with a kitchen (superbly professional, of course), that barn is also the place where she meets her staff every morning to navigate the day. Above all, she and her assistants test and retest her recipes. Garten, the consummate businesswoman as well as incomparable artist with food, is smart enough to know that she is only as good as her latest cookbook. Burgeoning cooks follow her fanatically because she helps them become artists too, in her elegant and earthy oeuvre, which is where it all began. Clockwise from top left: Ina Garten's East Hampton gardens. Garten's husband, Jeffrey Garten. From Garten's new cookbook: crispy mustard chicken and frisée; cauliflower toasts; fig and ricotta cake. The interior of Garten's East Hampton barn. 45

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