A night out with Ina Garten

Pssst, don’t tell anyone. I snuck out of the office party early.

When I heard that Ina Garten, AKA the Emmy Award-winning host of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa, was going to be speaking in town the same night as Ingredient’s big fall party, I didn’t think twice. Sorry, not sorry. After all, as one of my coworkers said recently, “She’s the Bible.”

I am a total Ina Garten fangirl. I mean, what’s not to love about Ina? She cooks for a living, she’s been married for 48 years and she’s friends with Martha Stewart. Not only do I love her recipes and her laid-back cooking style, but Barefoot Contessa was also one of my go-to TV shows when I was on maternity leave with my daughter eight years ago. Just hearing the opening chords of the theme song puts me in my happy place.

I slipped out of the office party after about an hour with a few girlfriends and headed downtown for a night on the town with Ina. For an hour and a half, she talked about her love of food, her career and, of course, her husband, Jeffrey. Fun facts: she worked as a budget analyst in the White House during the Ford and Carter administrations and was responsible for writing the nuclear energy budget; also, her guilty pleasure is bar food and she was looking forward to a room service burger and Champagne after the show! She was funny, sweet and absolutely charming – it’s a night I won’t soon forget. I left with an autographed cookbook and her words echoing in my head:

“When you cook, everyone shows up. That’s what cooking is all about. It’s not about impressing your friends. It’s about making them feel good.”

How fabulous is that?