Why Ina Garten Owes All Her Barefoot Contessa Success to Paris

Michael Logan
Ina Garten, tastemakers, the food network, paris part deux
The Food Network

Who doesn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day in Paris with the Barefoot Contessa? Superchef and bestselling author Ina Garten takes us to the City of Light in her Food Network special Barefoot Contessa in Paris Part Deux, but she won’t be reveling in French cuisine. This is a salute to the Americans in Paris—the ones who are cooking up a storm over there.

The French can get rather testy. Are they going to be OK with an homage to American cooking?
We in the U.S. have a very old-fashioned notion of the French. They used to be quite annoyed with us, like if we didn’t speak French perfectly, but now I never encounter attitude. In fact, they’re warm and welcoming and absolutely obsessed with food by American chefs. They call it “tres Brooklyn.” My God, it’s a huge craze over there! So are American cocktails.

RELATED: Inside the Life of a TV Show's Culinary Supervisor

Does American food actually taste better if you cook it in France?
In the special, I make lobster rolls with [chef] Gregory Marchand and I’m thinking, Really? I live on Long Island. Why did I go all the way to Paris for this? But here’s why: We use Brittany lobster and fantastic brioche. It is all about the ingredients. Same dish, vastly different results.

This is your second Paris special, you had massive success with your cookbook Barefoot in Paris and you have a second home there. The romance never fades?
Never! On our first trip decades ago, my husband [Yale dean emeritus Jeffrey Garten] and I had so little money we had to camp in sleeping bags on the outskirts of town. I was years away from the food business. [Laughs] In fact, all I could do was warm things up. But that trip focused me and changed my life. I owe it all to Paris!

Barefoot Contessa in Paris Part Deux, Sunday, Feb. 14, 1/noon c, Food Network