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Barefoot Contessa

Ina Garten-N Y Times 3/18/07

Business section story today...Chowhound mention...

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  1. Just finished the NY Times article about Ms. Garten. I have known Ms. Garten, as an acquaintance, NOT AS A PERSONAL FRIEND, since she opened her place in West Hampton Beach. We patronized her store in East Hampton from the day she opened. Yes, we have a place in East Hampton, a modest 2 bedroom home and we, like most of the local people out here are not elitist as the article suggests. It so happens that East Hampton is simply one of the most beautiful places in the US.

    We have seen Ina and her husband strolling the streets holding hands, smooching at a local restaurant on Newtown Lane and dining at Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton, which is the furthest thing from fancy dining that one can find out here.

    Ina Garten is "real people" and she is to be congratulated for her well earned success.

    1 Reply
    1. re: banaker

      the article was complimentary to mrs. garten. i think you're being overly-defensive. the "elitist" comment was actually a quote from HERE.

      obviously she's tremendously successful. but why people would pay $10.95 for a box of friggin' brownie mix is beyond my comprehension.

    2. I actually am ambiguous about Ina Garten, both her show and her personality. But I found it interesting to see Chowhound mentioned prominently.

      Once when Jane Goldman, editor in chief of Chowhound.com, was quoted:
      “It’s been interesting to watch the Food Network’s evolution from cooking shows with accomplished chefs to cooking and other shows with less-accomplished hosts, Programmers have discovered that — no surprise — personality and charisma on television are important.”

      Second when the article mentioned Chowhound's obsequious ban on attacks on Foofd Network personalities specifically.

      I guess we all know where Chowhound stands on Food Network and the kind of programming the editorial staff approves of and disapproves of.

      1. Read the article today as well. Interesting that the Chowhound editor made the comment she did, from what I gather people like Garten's show *in spite* of her personality. I'm sure she's a wonderful person in real life but the camera portrays her as too reserved and even cold as if she feels forced to be on television. Having said that, her food is excellent.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Roland Parker

          Wow, I so disagree! She seems much more relaxed and natural than most TV hosts - and she's relatable for (tending towards introverted) me. I find her much more soothing and warm than cold. But your perspective is equally valid and interesting to me - this is obviously a totally subjective matter. It says something about me - in real life I tend to find gregarious people exhausting, I couldn't spend 5 minutes around someone like Kelly Rippa for example.

          1. re: julesrules

            I'm with you. Ina comes across on-camera as relaxed, friendly and confident.

        2. It's too bad they focused on that one thread with the negative comments, which I think was actually an all-encompassing Food Network host thread. If they would have quoted this thread, it would have been much more relevant: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/33125...

          3 Replies
          1. re: Katie Nell

            I agree. And, as far as I know, Jane Goldman is the EIC of Chow.com - not chowhound - don't think CH has editors.

            1. re: Katie Nell

              I find the whole idea of reporting on CH threads to be very odd - it's such "old news" by the time it makes the paper - and it doesn't really reflect the interactive, combative/debate nature of message boards where the people quoted might not even stand behind what they said two days later. I read papers to get a thoughtful perspective - not just some fairly random pithy quotes. Anyway I think this has been discussed in other threads so I'll stop now.

              1. re: julesrules

                I agree... It's just too bad that it could have been left as a nasty comment on a message board, but now it's in an article that she will probably see. (Not that she probably hasn't heard it all before, but the original comment was unnecessary and irrelevant.)

            2. I'm one who thinks that her food is actually pretty solid, but I can't watch the show. I don't think she's a bad person, simply has a personality that doesn't click with mine. I also think that her dishes tend toward the heavily laden with fats, calories, etc and that there isn't even a nod to the fact that were you to eat from her recipes on a meal to meal basis, you probably wouldn't be consuming the healthiest of diets. Now, there's no requirement that a cook book author or food show host make the world a healthy place, but I think I'd probably feel a bit more comfortable with her if there was at least some recognition of the fact that some "lighter" dishes mixed in wouldn't hurt anything.

              15 Replies
              1. re: ccbweb

                I have heard a lot of people complaining about cookbook authors and food show hosts being so very ignorant of the fat contents of their recipes etc. And I am just kind of scratching my head about this. If Paula Deen was advertising her recipes and books as the paragon of healthy eating, I would definitely see your point, but these authors and hosts don't ever advertise that their recipes are health foods. Ina Garten's cuisine is based on French cuisine, where butter is a major part of the foundation. If you think you are getting healthy cuisine tips, you are sorely mistaken.

                No one is putting a gun to anyone's head to make every single recipe in these books as the basis of daily meal planning. They are presenting the recipes as possibilities, in the end, it is still the cook's best judgement to make or not make the recipe or to make the recipes as is or altered a little as a compromise for one's health.

                I think a little common sense goes a long way in this non-debate.

                1. re: Phaedrus

                  I agree that common sense is important. But I'm thinking of Julia Child who cooked French cuisine with plenty of butter, cream, etc...but also advocated moderation and eating smaller portions. As I said, no requirement to make the world healthy, but recognition of the realities of something of the appropriate places for Garten's style of food would make me feel better about her.

                  1. re: ccbweb

                    Like I said, I have no horse in this race, but why should any author or cooking show host be CC (Calorically Correct) if there is already an existing and militant paradigm of healthy eating pervading the conscisousness of the vast majority of the people that are the audience for these shows? If I want to live vicariously through Paula, Ina, Emeril, Mario, etc. I should be able to without having to listen to a half hearted public service announcement about fats. By the same token, if I don't want to see all that butterfat, I I can watch Chiarello, Robin Miller etc.

                    Why do people want both? Is it because they feel guilty about one paradigm and not all that excited about the other?

                    1. re: ccbweb

                      I'm playing shrink here, but subconsciously, could all that cooking with butter and cream be off putting to you be because of Ina's appeaance? A larger woman daring to cook and enjoy food with butter and cream is so un-PC, especially with the obesity crisis going on....how dare she!!!

                      I do have problems with Paula Deen because of this reason. A heavy woman just bragging about how much butter she is using, I find it a little disturbing. I don't have problems with somebody like Giada DiLaurentis eyes lighting up when she says to use "lots of butter".

                      As a person that will be watching their weight the rest of their life (lost 115 lbs and kept it off for 5 years), I tend to over-analyze these things. I'm not trying to accuse anybody of anything, but I still feel on occasion that I get stared at accusingly when I enjoy a full-fat dessert or meal.

                      1. re: MrsT

                        I'm with you, Mrs. T, and I applaud you for the massive weight loss. Well done! You must feel liberated, indeed.

                        1. re: uptown jimmy

                          Thank you, but I don't exactly feel liberated. I have other issues instead and this isn't a therapy board :)

                          For what it's worth though, Ina Garten (and Paula Deen for that matter) both have successful careers in TV without conforming to the standard of beauty that is the norm in the media. I do respect her for that (and her recipes are pretty good too)

                          1. re: MrsT

                            I think you make a really good point, Mrs. T. But aside from all the butter and cream Ina uses, there is also the salt. I watched Ina shake a blizzard of salt over some parsnips yesterday and felt my heart constrict. She even said: "Use A LOT of salt!" In fact, I don't find the butter or cream she uses to be off-putting, just the salt.

                            1. re: Petitpois

                              They are not cooking food that is healthy - thay are only cooking for taste, and salt improves taste. If I were to eat parsnips (which I don't like) I would have to eat tons of salt on them. Shows like Ellie Krieger will watch the salt.

                              1. re: kprange

                                I think once you get used to eating lots of salt, it gets harder to taste salt. I LOVE salt and realy have to be careful.

                                Ina was a caterer by trade - she cooks to please people. I'm sure if they wanted something "healthier" they would tell her. But, if I was going to the Barefoot Contessa - I would say, Bring It On! :)

                                1. re: stellamystar

                                  Her use of salt doesn't bother me as I can eat as much salt as I want...it's great! :-)

                                    1. re: kprange

                                      Wow, another one of us! Yeah salt!

                    2. re: Phaedrus

                      Garten's cooking based on French cuisine? I've seen her mess up too many classic recipes. There's a difference between having lived in France, and cooked while you lived there, and mastering French cuisine. I don't watch her often because her cooking techniques bother me. This morning she used pre-ground nutmeg in a recipe. The flavor difference between grinding your own and long-stored store bought is well worth the effort. I expect pros with their own TV shows to know that.

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        Ina Garten lived and cooked in France for six months, when she and Jeffrey were first married. They lived in a tent, and she cooked on a small petro grill, and she went to French markets every day. She also went to Patricia Wells school, and spent many hours cooking there. They now own an apartment in Paris, and go many times a year for vacations. With stores like Penzey's or others, I'll bet her pre-ground nutmeg was just as fresh as your whole one was.

                        And, I have cooked so many of her recipes, and have been overjoyed. She spares no expense, and uses quality ingredients. Ah, but that is JMO.

                        1. re: mcel215

                          Thank you, thank you, thank you. I just don't like the nitpicking - you are very correct. Ina always talks about using the best ingredients and that is exactly what I do now and my food tastes different for it. I am sure the nutmeg she used is top of the line. Her recipes are tops. I have cooked quite a few and had raves every time.

                  2. I love Ina. Her recipes work and I find her on screen demeanor very relaxing and friendly. Plus it's so cute how she tries to make Jeffrey happy with the dishes that she makes. I have Barefoot Contessa Parties! and Barefoot Contessa Everyday and both books feature great tasting and most of all, easy to follow recipes.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: clim212

                      Jeffrey is her Teddy Bear of a secret weapon, I love watching him enjoy her food and company.

                      1. re: ChinoWayne

                        I too love Ina and think both clim's and chino's comments are right on. I have cooked from her "Barefoot....at Home" book and find all of her recipes to be easy to follow and delicious and have yet to be disappointed. Her show is one of my favorites and I'll continue to be a fan. I haven't seen the article in question but will go about tracking it down.

                    2. It was a good article. I respect the way she balances her business, her personal life and her independence. She's smart and not burning herself out chasing fame.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Chicklet

                        Ina Garten is lovely. Her recipes are sensational (got that from Jeffrey), she's fun, loving, and knows how to cook & entertain. I love the French influence in her style. From what I can tell, she should be highly respected for her contribution to the wide world of culinary endeavors. Go Ina !!!

                        1. re: ChefGirl412

                          I wish I had a Jeffrey of a Husband who happily gobbles up whatever I decide to make. Three cheers for Jeffrey!

                        2. re: Chicklet

                          I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I want to be Ina in my next life!

                          1. re: kkak97

                            I agree! How I love that woman! I always look forward to watching her shows. She always smiles while she cooks and I love that the way she speaks really draws you in. Also - she cooks just like me - she levels teaspoons of flour with her finger and doesn't mind a temporarily messy countertop! And I LOVED the Mel Brooks "secret guest" episode! He yelled out, "I'm paying for this meal!" How cute was that?! :o)