Why Ina Garten Doesn't Miss Her Job At The White House

Did you know Ina Garten used to work at the White House? The celebrity chef and queen of the coastal grandmother aesthetic worked in the Office of Management and Budget during the Ford and Carter administrations. This predated her illustrious career in the food industry, of course, which began in 1978 after she bought a specialty food store in the Hamptons, a place she had never previously been to. The rest, as they say, is history, as Garten is now the iconic cookbook author and "Barefoot Contessa" show host who has given us tips for making flavorful shrimp salad, vibrant sauteed brussels sprouts, the smoothest chocolate buttercream frosting, and more.

After almost four years at the White House, Garten left her job, bought the Hamptons food store on the spot, and never looked back. But why was she so quick to escape such a prestigious career? In a 2022 interview on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Garten explained why working in politics is a chapter of her life she doesn't miss.

Ina Garten wanted a career with more day-to-day action

Between 1974 and 1978, Garten worked on writing policies for the nuclear energy budget in the White House. At first, she loved the job. The work she was doing was close to the president, and the projects she was involved with amounted to $20 billion in value. However, Garten eventually realized she needed more in life to feel satisfied. In an interview on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Garten said of working at the White House, "It was interesting. It was really fun, but it was in the 70s and nothing happened. It drove me crazy for four years." She explained that while there were major issues at the time that needed action, bills would end up going back and forth between the Hill and the White House, and it was difficult to move the needle.

Garten also realized that she worked better when receiving quick feedback, which didn't happen in the White House — but did when she opened her store. When Garten found an ad for the Hamptons food store in the New York Times, she pounced on it. As she told Indie Bound, "I needed to run something I owned and that I could make my own decisions with." 

It's clear now that Garten is thriving in a career she wholeheartedly enjoys — but does she miss her time in the White House? The answer, as she told Colbert, is a resounding no.