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Ina Garten’s Most Fabulous Moments on ‘Barefoot Contessa’

Eater logo Eater 2/2/2018 James Park

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: Author Ina Garten attends Ina Garten in Conversation with Danny Meyer at 92nd Street Y on January 31, 2017 in New York City. © Noam Galai/WireImage NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: Author Ina Garten attends Ina Garten in Conversation with Danny Meyer at 92nd Street Y on January 31, 2017 in New York City.

A guide for fans of the show and Ina newbies alike. 

Over the last two decades, Ina Garten published 10 best-selling cookbooks and filmed 13 seasons (plus a few specials) of her Emmy Award-winning show, Barefoot Contessa. Her ridiculously fancy life has inspired numerous internet memes, and some people view her marriage with husband Jeffrey Garten as the ultimate example of #relationshipgoals — couples have even been known to dress up as Ina and Jeffrey for Halloween.

Now that a few seasons of Barefoot Contessahave been added to the Hulu catalog and the rest are available to stream on Amazon Video, it’s easier then ever to find out why Ina is such a truly fascinating person. Whether you’re an Ina newbie or a Garten diehard, here are the episodes to consider when planning a Barefoot Contessa marathon.

Ina with her FFF: Fabulous Famous Friends

One reason why Barefoot Contessa is so entertaining is because Ina invites her famous (and famously fabulous) friends over to her kitchen. Here are a few moments when her friends stole the show.

Episode name: “Friends of Friends”

Season: Season 10, Episode 7

Special guest: Michael the Florist, who runs a flower shop in the Hamptons and charms Ina’s fans with a personality that’s as colorful as his sweater. Ina usually calls him over to her house to set the table or bring a floral centerpiece for her party.

The gist: Ina and Michael are throwing a party together, and Ina is meeting some of Michael’s girlfriends, who are big fans of the Barefoot Contessa. She’s making the food and Michael is arranging the table.

What Ina cooks: For the main course, roasted striped sea bass with shrimp and mussels, plus couscous and pine nuts on the side. For dessert, crisp meringue shells filled with stewed berries and whipped cream.

Best moments: Michael the Florist steals the show with his elaborate floral arrangements. For this party, he decides to use a mass of green grapes as the centerpiece — so that if his girls get hungry, they can just steal some fruit — and tucks some vines from the garden around them. Michael also puts the girls’ favorite flowers in front of their placemats to serve as an icebreaker, since they’re meeting for the first time. He lays down Ina’s all-time favorite flower, orange tulips, for “you-know-who” — while winking at the camera.

Honorable Mentions:

  • T.R. Pescod: Ina has a serious network of fabulous gay friends in the Hamptons, and T.R. — a professional model — is one of her favorites. He checks all the boxes: fabulous, funny, and fashionable. Watch“Friend in Need” (Season 2, Episode 13) to see how charming T.R. is.
  • Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka: Ina’s gay network goes beyond the Hamptons. She invites the Hollywood power couple over for lunch, and they can’t stop laughing. Watch “Barefoot in Los Angeles” to see Ina embark on a food adventure while also meeting Hollywood stars like Wolfgang Puck, Jennifer Garner, and Wendy and Carnie Wilson.
  • Michelle Obama: Ina and Michelle have a lot in common: They are both inspirational female icons who are passionate about food and have husbands that everyone loves. Watch “Barefoot in Washington” to see two iconic women share their admiration for each other.

Only Ina would do that

One of the secrets to Ina’s success is that she always shows her viewers what it means to live the good life. Even30 Rock’s Liz Lemon envies Ina. From her stunning barn in the Hamptons, Ina always reminds viewers to use good olive oil, good vanilla, and even good mayonnaise. Sometimes her ideas may seem a bit odd, but Ina definitely knows how to pull a party together, even during the most unlikely circumstances.

Episode name: “Elegant and Easy”

Season: Season 1, Episode 3

Special guests: Her friends from the Hamptons, who are expecting take-out pizza at the weeknight dinner party.

The gist: Ina surprises her friends by making an elegant dinner, because she looks for excuses to throw parties every day.

What Ina cooks: Filet of beef with gorgonzola sauce, baked potato wedges, and caviar dip.

Best moment: The star of this episode is neither Ina’s food nor her friends — it’s her bare feet! Many viewers, including Ayesha Curry, have wondered what the Barefoot Contessa’s actual feet look like, and in this episode, she gives the people what they want. After Ina prepares her food, she takes a relaxing bath and proudly shows off her perfectly manicured feet, twirling them around in the bubbles.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Bill, one of Ina’s fans, asks her about the conversion between fresh herbs and dried ground herbs in recipes. She responds, “I don’t use dried herbs that much,” then, instead of answering his question, talks about how much she loves using fresh herbs from her garden. Watch a clip of Ask Ina to get inspired by her spice collection.
  • Ina throws a beach birthday party for her friends’ dog Theo, but none of the food is designed with the mutt in mind. Watch “Pooch Party”(Season 7, Episode 7) to see a dog’s birthday party where humans have the most fun.
  • “Everyone has their obsession,” Ina says in “Homecoming”(Season 1, Episode 7). “For some women, it’s diamonds. For me, it’s saving chicken carcasses.” Watchto see how to truss a chicken without making it look like it’s in bondage. Her magical roast chicken may have sealed the deal on Prince Harry’s royal engagement.

Ina and Jeffrey forever and ever

After being together for 53 years (and married for 49 years), Ina and Jeffrey have a unique bond that’s stronger than ever. Ina dedicates a lot of episodes to her one true love, and even wrote a book full of Jeffrey-approved recipes called Cooking for Jeffrey. Here are some iconic moments that show that Ina, after all those years, is still deeply in love with the J-man.

Episode name: “Cooking for Jeffrey: Pizza Pronto”

Season: Season 12, Episode 3

The gist: Jeffrey takes a pizza-making class in a food truck.

What Ina cooks for Jeffrey: White pizza with zucchini, charred red onions, and garlic ricotta; arugula with prosciutto and burrata; a limoncello-ricotta cheesecake.

Best moments: If one episode proves how much Ina loves Jeffrey, it’s this one. Almost 10 minutes of its running time are dedicated to Ina laughing joyfully as Jeffrey tries his best to make pizza. When she comments on his pizza-making skills, he gives her a “don’t-make-fun-of-me” look in return. When Jeffrey pulls out the pizza, Ina says, “That’s gorgeous, Jeffrey Garten!" and he twirls around, showing off his muscles. Later, he says, “I was born to do this!”

Honorable Mentions:

  • In “Romantic Breakfast” (Season 1, Episode 10), Ina lights at least 20 candles in the living room for a romantic dinner with Jeffrey and decorates the table with her orange tulips, saying, “I think this is going to be a very sexy setting.”
  • “Friday Night Dinner” (Season 5, Episode 2) begins with Jeffrey coming home at the start of the weekend. Usually, Ina makes her signature, Jeffrey-favorite roast chicken on Fridays, but she wants to surprise him with a Jewish-inspired meal. This special dinner comes with a price: Ina asks Jeffrey to buy spinach. It’s a simple request, but he’s afraid that he’ll screw it up — he once bought a honeydew melon when Ina asked him for a cantaloupe. Watch this episode to see whether Jeffrey successfully identifies the correct greens.
  • Ina and Jeffrey have so many food memories together, from the time she sent him a shoebox filled with brownies to the night she made an eggplant gratin on a camping trip in France. Watch “Memory Lane” (Season 9, Episode 4)to see young, charming, and handsome Jeffrey at Dartmouth and hear about the very first food Ina ever cooked for him (it’s not roast chicken).

Related gallery: 18 Foolproof Ina Garten Recipes (provided by Popsugar)


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