The Reason Ina Garten's Culinary Career Was A 'Rebellious' Act

As a child, Ina Garten's exposure to anything having to do with the kitchen was limited. Her mother was adamant that her focus should be on studying — certainly not cooking. Not only was Garten not permitted to take part in meal prep, but the foods allowed in the home were stringent. Carbs and butter weren't anywhere to be found, and desserts were made out of fresh fruit, nothing like the creamy Parmesan polenta or French apple tarts Garten now lists as some of her favorite foods.

Even more surprising is Garten's journey to becoming a household name. Her career certainly didn't start in the culinary arts, yet if one wasn't familiar with the courageous history Garten took to becoming the celebrity chef and food author she is known as today, it would be easy to assume otherwise. In fact, before Garten was encouraging home chefs to prepare delicious dishes at home, she was helping American presidents write fiscal budgets.

A path of passion

Much to the surprise of her parents, Garten quit a job at the White House and purchased a small grocery store in the Hamptons. Venturing into a path in which she had zero knowledge of — and one that happened to do with food — was a kind of rebellion against all that her mother had stood for, Garten explained to Katie Couric on her podcast, "Next Question," via Insider. Garten's store Barefoot Contessa consumed her time, and she operated the market for nearly two decades before selling it to members of her team.

At the time, such foray into an industry that Garten didn't know much about seemed to be an absurd risk, especially when stepping away from a prestigious career for which she was well qualified. Though she left the White House, Garten's MBA from George Washington University provided business skills she could rely on throughout her illustrious culinary career. Had Garten remained in the White House, we certainly would have missed out on many of her helpful cooking tips.