How Running A Store Helped Ina Garten Write Successful Cookbooks

Hers may not seem like the most obvious career path in history, but celebrity chef Ina Garten certainly has an interesting story to tell. In fact, before her robust culinary gifts were realized, Garten's beginnings were actually quite bland. Having previously started a career working on nuclear energy policy for the White House, Garten decided to shift gears and focus on her love of the culinary arts in 1987 (via Food Network). 

She has since built a name for herself after sharing easy, delicious recipes on her website, perfect for serving a crowd at your next party. She has even released a line of baking mixes and sauces, derived from her own recipes, so you can mimic her meals with ease. As a result of her broad base of kitchen-based knowledge, Garten's tips often vary in scope rather dramatically. One day, she will share information about what she does before doubling a recipe, and the next, Garten will explain a prep tip for perfect cookie dough

When she's not thinking up new recipes or filming episodes of Food Network's "Barefoot Contessa," Garten can often be found writing cookbooks. Garten's first office, built in 1996, where she wrote her first cookbook, was above a specialty food store in Long Island — the same store that she previously owned (via Barefoot Contessa).

Interestingly, Garten's experience working in that food store proved to be a vital piece of her cookbook-writing skill.

Garten got to know her audience

Ina Garten's success as a cookbook writer should be obvious to even the most kitchen-averse people on the planet. According to 60 Minutes, nine of Garten's 13 cookbooks have landed on the New York Times list of bestsellers. As is common for many writers, Garten's own experiences have founded the basis of much of her own writing.

She says she used lessons she learned while running her food shop to help her write successful books. According to the Barefoot Contessa website, Garten purchased a Long Island specialty food store in 1978. She ran the store with her husband, Jeffrey, for 18 years before deciding to sell it to employees in order to pursue a career in cookbook writing. Her first book, "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook," was released in 1999, and quickly became a surprise bestseller.

Garten told 60 Minutes that by running the store, she was able to familiarize herself with the most popular kinds of foods that people wanted to eat at home — roast chicken, chocolate cake, roasted carrots, and coconut cupcakes were popular choices when people were shopping. Rather than trying to share the recipes she liked best in her books, Garten instead placed the focus on foods she knew readers would enjoy making the most.