Ina Garten, popularly known as the Barefoot Contessa, is a culinary force to be reckoned with. Her show has been on for nearly 15 years, and her cookbooks and lifestyle columns are read by millions the world over. She sat down with us to talk about the show’s anniversary, her spicy marriage, and what it takes to be everyone’s best friend in the kitchen.
1.You’ve written many cookbooks over the years, but if you had to choose, which one would be your favorite?
My favorite cookbook that I’ve written is certainly Recipes For Overthrowing The Capitalist World-State Which Oppresses Us All, filled with easy-to-make poison-laden dishes to feed to the bourgeois pigs who have their boot on the neck of the working man. I almost never cook lethal dishes nowadays, so it’s always refreshing to go back to that book and remember a time when I was a little younger and a little more rebellious. And whenever I see on the news that the head of the International Monetary Fund was poisoned, or a United Nations official was injured after his French onion soup exploded, it warms my heart to think that might be one of my readers out there living their best life.
2. Most of the time on your television show you’re cooking for your husband, Jeffrey. Do you think that reinforces a negative stereotype in regards to gender roles?
Oh…[Laughs.] I own Jeffrey. He is mine, but I am not his. I feed him slop every single day a camera isn’t around so that when we’re filming and he gets to eat real food, his smile goes from ear to ear to the delight of my viewers. I am a god to him.
3. The Barefoot Contessa is turning 15 later this year. Any special plans for the anniversary?
One thing I’ve never really shown off on the show before is my collection of Soviet-era weaponry. For this season, we’re putting my Kalashnikovs, mines, and even a ghost rocket shell or two front and center. I think it will give the whole show a more rustic, salt-of-the-earth vibe, which is what I’m always aiming for. Some of the mines will be armed, so I’m excited to see who lives and who dies.
4. You were once widely criticized for not appeasing the desire of a terminally ill child who wanted to cook with you. If the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted you with a similar request now, would you agree to it?
No. Any child whose last wish is to cook with me is already dead.
5. As you approach your seventies, do you plan to slow down anytime soon?
Well, you know me, I always like to take things slow so that I can make the most delicious and carefully crafted meals for the people I love in my life. But I don’t plan on ever stopping production on The Barefoot Contessa. Not next year, or in 10 years, or 100 years. I will be a witness to humanity as it rises and falls like I have always been. The suffering I see will inform my dishes just as much as the moments of joy. Blood is the wage of tomorrow, and I am certainly willing to pay that price if it means I can keep making paella a little better each time.