Roast chicken – among other butter-bathed foods – came up frequently during Alex Witchel’s interview with Ina Garten (aka: The Barefoot Contessa) during the New York Times Arts&Leisure Weekend. The Saturday evening event, tantalizingly, was likely the series’s most hunger-inducing session.
In addition to showing torturous clips from her latest Food Network show, "How Easy Is That?," Garten discussed the process behind her many mouth-watering recipes.
“I’m not a great cook but Iknow what people want to eat,” she explained.
She usually has “a flavor in my head and a texture” and will test recipes anywhere from 3-25 times until she gets that “little ping that says: that’s it!”
Garten admitted that, despite the title of her new show and eponymous book, cooking isn’t easy. Her motto may be “keep it simple,” but, she confessed: “if you think it’s easy to make things simple, it’s not.” She even daintily dropped the S-bomb a couple times when explaining how she has been known to mess up in the kitchen.
The route Garten took to becoming a famous cook wasn’t exactly simple either.
“I never even expected to work,” Garten said. “What do you grow up to be if you’ve never thought about it?” she asked.
She spent four years as a budget analyst in the Ford White House but soon got frustrated.
“I saw that nothing happens,” she said. “You’d work on a $20 billion budget and nothing happened.”
So when Garten saw an ad announcing that the Barefoot Contessa, a Hamptons specialty food store, was for sale, she jumped on it. Thirty-some years later, she is a best-selling author of seven cookbooks and a Food Network star. She even sanctioned Tina Fey’s request that she make a hilarious cameo of sorts on 30 Rock earlier this season.
Witchel asked Garten about how she got interested in food in the first place:
“Many people choose professions to work out certain issues,” Garten said. Discussing her nutritionist mother, she quoted Julia Child: “I never knew a nutritionist who enjoys good food.” Garten’s mother “saw food as medicine: eat this, because it’s good for you. It never occurred to her that it could taste good…there were no potatoes, no sugar, no bread, no dessert.”
“I think I was probably hungry when I was a kid,” Garten admitted. “But I’ve made up for it. I’m having a ball.”
[Image via The East Hampton Star]