Ina Garten has revealed that she spent years turning the Food Network down.
When they offered her a show after her first successful cookbook, Garten told them “lose my number.”
But Garten eventually gave it a chance, and “Barefoot Contessa” has been on the air for 19 years.
“Barefoot Contessa” has been on the Food Network for 19 years, solidifying Ina Garten’s reputation as one of the most beloved celebrity chefs in America.
But when the network first approached Garten about doing a cooking show, she had three words for them: “Lose my number.”
“For years I said no, and they kept coming back with a better offer,” Garten told MSNBC host Willie Geist during a virtual author luncheon benefiting Shelter Island Public Library on September 29.
“I said, ‘I’m not negotiating, I just don’t think I can do this,”‘ Garten said.
Executives at the network were shocked by her initial refusal, Garten added.
“They said, ‘People send us hams to even get an appointment to try and get a show,'” Garten told Geist with a laugh.
But Garten said it’s been incredible to look back on her nearly two decades in television.
“Twenty years, it’s amazing,” she added. “I’m really delighted, I just can’t understand it.”
Food Network came knocking after Ina Garten’s first cookbook in 1999
And while she’s written 11 successful cookbooks since “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook,” Garten still believes it was “a total fluke.”
The future Food Network star decided to try writing her own cookbook after running the specialty food store Barefoot Contessa in the Hamptons for 20 years.
“I was like, ‘I really want to do something challenging now,'” she told Geist. “I took a year off, built myself an office over the store, and went there every day trying to figure out what to do.”‘
Ultimately, it was her husband Jeffrey who inspired Garten to think about the food business “in a different way.”
Garten wrote up a cookbook proposal with recipes from her store. It was accepted three days after she sent it.
“I was like, ‘Oh shit, now I have to write a book,”‘ she recalled with a laugh.
Garten realized that she loved testing recipes and making them foolproof.
“I have to start with a flavor, a texture, exactly what I want the thing to look like or smell like,” she told Geist. “Once I get it done, I give the recipe to an assistant and watch them make it, because I want to see what concept problems they have using the recipe.”
“Now I actually have three people testing – a new cook, an experienced cook, and one is in between,” she added. “I want any level of cook to be able to use the recipe.”
It’s been 22 years since that first cookbook, and Garten said she’s still delighted that so many people get joy from her dishes.
“I love that people are learning how to cook and inviting people over for dinner,” she said. “It’s about community. I love that part of what I do now.”
Read the original article on Insider