The Unexpected Food Ina Garten Makes For Extra Special Dinner Guests

As a cookbook author, celebrity chef, and host of "Barefoot Contessa," Ina Garten knows a thing or two about entertaining. So her go-to cuisine for extra special guests may take many by surprise. 

While Garten has been a household name for decades, it's worth noting that when she entered the food business, she was a complete novice. As revealed during her book launch for the 2020 "Modern Comfort Food," she had worked in the White House before opening the Barefoot Contessa store (via Insider). And no, she wasn't a member of the catering team. Far from it, as noted by Katie Couric Media, her role back in the early 1980s was as a nuclear budget analyst. 

Ultimately, Garten did pursue her passion for food, and today is beloved around the world for her penchant for simplicity. She was forced to learn early on that most people were more partial to no-fuss foods. "I would put out chickens with fresh herbs, and it didn't work. I ... put the chicken in little red cups ... and it sold like crazy. I really learned that people want simple food," she recounted to Insider. 

Knowing this, it is hardly a shock that Garten often opts for a laid-back approach, and this attitude is extended even to her more esteemed guests. 

Ina Garten stays on-brand, no matter who she's entertaining

Ina Garten doesn't mind treating her guests to low-key, simple feasts, VIPs included. 

In a 2019 episode of "Barefoot Contessa," Garten revealed that whenever she was expecting an esteemed guest for dinner, she would strip things back as far as possible and serve up something casual. "That's just the time that I make something that's really good comfort food," she smiled. What's more, she added that she would opt for a no-frills dining set-up, too. "I serve it in the kitchen," she revealed. Why? Because she says, "it's relaxed, and everybody has a good time." In this episode, Garten prepares a turkey meatloaf for her book editor — so "relaxed" wasn't just chef-speak for something way fancier. 

Garten also told Food Network that entertaining in the kitchen is a great way to nix any anxiety. "I think everybody feels more relaxed," she mused at the time. In light of that, it only makes sense that when the stakes are high, she's staying right inside her happy place. So, the next time you're feeling pre-dinner jitters, take a leaf out of the Barefoot Contessa's book. After all, sharing food should be fun!