Ina Garten may be forthcoming with her recipes, but don’t expect her to divulge the intimate details of what sounds like a challenging childhood.
Becoming a household name for her televised cooking show, “Barefoot Contessa,” part of Garten’s appeal, aside from her class and charm, is the adorable relationship she shares with her husband, Jeffrey. Married for 55 years, the couple chose not to have children. When asked in a recent interview if children would have hindered her career, Garten agreed it would have been “much harder.”
“I don’t think that’s why I made the decision,” she told BBC News’ Katty Kay. “I’m actually writing a memoir now, and I’m kind of looking back at my childhood. It was nothing I wanted to recreate.”
INA GARTEN REVEALS REASON SHE DOESN’T DRINK WHILE COOKING
“I’m always looking forward. To look back and realize a lot of my decisions were based on my childhood, I think that was really the motivating factor, and Jeffrey and I were just so happy together,” she said of their decision not to have kids. The couple married young, having met when Garten was 15. She was 20 when they exchanged vows.
As a child, Garten said she was restricted from the kitchen.
“When I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to cook,” she told Al Roker in 2021 on his “Cooking Up a Storm” podcast.
“I think my mother just wanted me in my room and she wanted the kitchen to herself. And so she said, ‘It’s your job to study, it’s my job to cook, and just get out of the kitchen.’ So, I kind of always wanted to do it,” she said of cooking. “And I got married when I was 20, and I think that’s when I started to think I love cooking.”
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Garten said she is not a chef; she actually trained herself how to do everything with some help from Julia Child. Garten was previously an employee of the White House, working for the Office of Management and Budget. Jeffrey also previously worked in government.
“I think what I was craving as a child is connecting with people, and I felt that if you feed them, they always show up and you have a good time together. And that was the connection I loved. So, I kept doing it over and over again,” she told Roker of turning cooking into a career.
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In a separate interview with Katie Couric on her podcast, Garten provided a little more context to her relationship with food as a child.
“My mother was obsessive about food. So, we weren’t allowed any carbs, we weren’t allowed any butter. We had margarine. … She just kind of got dinner on the table. … And her idea of a great dessert was an apple,” she said in 2017.
“It’s the ultimate rebellion,” she joked of becoming a cook. “I’m still working out issues from my parents.”
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