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In 1978, Ina Garten found herself working in the White House on nuclear energy policy and thinking, "There's got to be more to life than this!" She saw an ad for a small food store for sale in a place she'd never been: the Hamptons at the end of Long Island. She and her husband drove up to investigate and made the owner an offer on the spot. Two months later she found herself the owner of Barefoot Contessa, a 400-sq. ft. specialty food store. Twenty years later, Barefoot Contessa grew to a 3,000-square-foot food emporium where twenty cooks and bakers prepared the food. Twenty-five more employees worked in the store helping thousands of customers to choose breads, salads, dinners and baked goods to take home.
In 1996, Ina sold the store to her employees. In 2003, the new owners of Barefoot Contessa decided to close their doors and go on to new adventures. In 1999, Ina wrote her first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, which was one of the best-selling cookbooks of the year. The book invites readers into her specialty food store and shares the recipes that made it such a success. In 2001, Ina followed with best-selling Barefoot Contessa Parties! in which she invites readers into her home and shares her ideas and recipes for having parties that are fun for all - including the host. Her follow-up cookbooks, Barefoot Contessa Family Style (2002), Barefoot in Paris (2004), Barefoot Contessa at Home (2006), and Barefoot Contessa – Back to Basics (2008) all continue her style of cooking with easy, delicious, and foolproof recipes that you can make at home.
In 2006, Ina and her business partner Frank Newbold started a successful line of Barefoot Contessa Pantry products, comprised of baking mixes and sauces developed from recipes in her cookbooks. Ina has been a columnist for Martha Stewart Living magazine and O, the Oprah magazine.
Ina lives in East Hampton, New York, and Southport, Connenicut, with her husband Jeffrey, who is a professor at the Yale School of Management.