Ina Garten

Ina Garten Headshot

Restaurateur • Host • Personality

Birth Name: Ina Rosenberg

Birth Date: February 2, 1948

Age: 76 years old

Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York

Whether she is making a delectable coconut cake for a ladies' luncheon or a simple meal of roast chicken and salad for her husband, Ina Garten has always been the perfect hostess. The former policy analyst-turned-restaurateur became a household name as host of the Food Network's popular series "Barefoot Contessa" (2002- ), which featured Garten in her Hamptons kitchen whipping up easy yet refined dishes and scrumptious baked goods. Throughout the years, Garten became one of the network's most emulated cooks. Aside from her hosting duties, she also wrote several best-selling cookbooks such as The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (1999) and Barefoot Contessa Parties! (2001), and launched her own food line, all successful ventures that expanded her brand and solidified her status as one of the most loved and recognized personalities in the culinary world.

Ina Rosenberg was born on Feb. 2, 1948 in Brooklyn, NY and was raised in Stamford, CT. She studied fashion design at Syracuse University in New York City, and then later changed her major to economics. At 20, she married Jeffrey Garten, whom she met and started dating when she was just 15. The couple moved to Fort Bragg, NC where her husband served in the military. After his stint in the military, the couple went on a camping trip in Paris, France. Thanks to the city's open-air markets and produce stands, Garten's culinary passion - particularly in regards to French cuisine - blossomed and she began cooking with fresh ingredients. When they returned to the States and relocated to Washington D.C., Garten worked as a budget analyst in charge of nuclear energy at the White House. Tired of her job's slow pace, she turned to cooking as a creative outlet. In 1978, she saw a newspaper ad for a small food store in the Hamptons. Garten made the owner an offer on the spot and two months later, she opened up the food store, Barefoot Contessa, after the 1954 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner.

Initially, Garten knew very little about running a business. Yet, her brownies, cupcakes and roast chicken drew in the crowds; within a month of opening, the Barefoot Contessa became a hit in the Hamptons. Having found her niche, Garten began offering delicacies such as imported cheeses, lobster Cobb salad, artisan breads, and caviar. Over the years, Garten's clients grew to include some of the area's high-profile personalities like media mogul Martha Stewart, who reportedly first visited the store in the late 1980s, and who later invited Garten to write for her magazine and appear on her television show "Martha Stewart Living" (syndicated, 1991-2004). But by 1996, the success of the store reportedly overwhelmed Garten, prompting her to sell it that year to two employees. She turned her attention to writing and in 1999, she released The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, featuring recipes that made her store a success. Thanks to the book's easy recipes, candid narrative, and beautiful photographs, the cookbook sold more than five million copies. Since her initial literary effort, Garten released several cookbooks, including Barefoot Contessa Parties! (2001) and Barefoot Contessa Family Style (2002), that also drew high sales.

In 2002, Garten tried yet another medium to share her cooking tips. As the bright-eyed and charming host of "Barefoot Contessa," Garten took viewers into her own kitchen where she prepared easy yet elegant recipes that were perfect for entertaining. She often featured her husband and personal friends on the show to sample her culinary creations. "Barefoot Contessa" attracted millions of viewers a week, and became one of the network's most popular shows, placing Garten in the same league as other celebrity cooks like Paula Deen and Rachael Ray. In 2010, Garten made a cameo on the hit show "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-13) as the woman whom Tina Fey's character idolizes. In 2011, Garten received her first negative press when she turned down a six-year-old boy's request for a private cooking session. Enzo Pereda, who had leukemia, reportedly made a request through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to meet Garten for the first time in 2010, but she declined due to a book tour. In March 2011, Garten declined Pereda's wish to meet her a second time. In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Garten said that the TV host, who over the years had contributed to many charitable causes, could not grant the boy's request because of numerous other commitments. After much criticism, she invited Pereda to the set of her show, but Pereda reportedly changed his wish to swimming with dolphins. The headlines were less than kind to Garten, but she continued running her growing culinary empire.

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