This edition of “For Your Consideration” goes into new territory: cooking shows. For the past 15 years, Ina Garten has been enchanting viewers of her Food Network show, Barefoot Contessa, with tantalizing dishes and peeks into her luxurious life in East Hampton. Originally a White House employee in the Office of Management and Budget in the 1970s, Ina reinvigorated and completely changed her career path by purchasing a specialty food store, The Barefoot Contessa. After nearly 20 years of running the shop, she decided to sell the store and explore other ventures, which turned into writing 10 wildly successful cookbooks and her Food Network show.
Barefoot Contessa doesn’t follow the traditional cooking show format. Instead of standing in a cookie cutter studio kitchen cooking food that only the crew may peck at, Ina invites viewers into her East Hampton home, her daily routine, and her social circle. Each episode features Ina entertaining for friends or her beloved husband, Jeffrey. Ina takes sophisticated and elegant dishes like like beef bourguignon and turns them into accessible and easy recipes that viewers can realistically make for company.
Why You Should Watch
Cooking shows aren’t given enough credit. While some might seem formulated and scripted, Ina Garten takes this traditional format and elevates it to an entertaining and engaging half-hour block. Barefoot Contessa is a lavish escape from mail order meal kits and Pinterest recipes. Even if her calming demeanor and ease in the kitchen don’t give you the motivation to try the recipes for yourself, it’s still so much fun to watch her make so many extraordinary dishes. I can personally share that I’ve impressed many friends with Ina’s cranberry orange scones.
Ina’s charm doesn’t go unnoticed by Hollywood, either. In recent years, Ina has formed a friendship with Taylor Swift, and appeared on an episode of 30 Rock. Not only has she featured Mariska Hargitay and Alec Baldwin on her show, but she’s cooked a meal with Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka. And, she’s inadvertently created countless photo and gif-worthy moments, perfect for any group chat or reaction tweet.
While some may view her life and show as unobtainable and too fancy, it’s real. It’s authentic. It’s so refreshing to see a form of reality television that doesn’t involve housewives backstabbing each other. I personally may never drive around the Hamptons in my Lexus collecting decadent ingredients for the perfect truffled macaroni and cheese, but it sure is fun to watch.
Barefoot Contessa airs weekly on Food Network.