Ina Rosenberg Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa, was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stamford Connecticut. At the age of fifteen, she met her future husband, Jeffrey Garten on a trip to visit her brother at Dartmouth. They continued to date through high school and during the years that Ina spent at Syracuse University. Ina originally majored in fashion design, but changed to economics before deciding to postpone her education and marry Jeffrey Garten.
In 1968, she and her husband moved to North Carolina. Soon after, Jeffrey had to go to Vietnam to serve his four years in the military. In the meantime, Ina cooked and entertained to keep herself busy. When Jeffrey returned, they took a four month vacation to Paris, where Ina was inspired by Julia Child’s cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cuisine”. In 1972, Ina and Jeffrey moved to Washington, DC where Ina put her cooking skills to the test.
Ina worked in the White House in the Office of Management and Budget where she worked as the budget analyst. While doing so, Ina took graduate-level business classes at GWU, and eventually earned her MBA.
She left her job in 1978 and purchased a specialty food store in Westhampton Beach, New York called “Barefoot Contessa”, which relocated to East Hampton in 1985. In 1999, Ina Garten wrote “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook”, and then later published “Barefoot Contessa Parties!” Since her books were so successful, the Food Network offered her an opportunity to host her own cooking show, which can still be seen on Saturdays at 1 pm.