The Cookbooks Ina Garten Loves To Use Most (Besides Her Own)

Even the greatest chefs in the world are inspired by cookbooks. Anthony Bourdain recalled that his own mom swore by "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook," perpetually keeping a copy on top of the refrigerator for easy access. In turn, Brodie Meah, co-founder of Top Cuvée in London, has said Bourdain's "Les Halles Cookbook" changed her life.

As of today, Ina Garten has written a whopping 13 cookbooks of her own, most of which focus on entertaining at home, family-style meals, and taking the stress and exclusive gatekeeping out of making a downright good meal. It doesn't require any mental gymnastics to understand why these are the type of cookbooks that home cooks find themselves reaching for again and again — Garten herself included.

In an interview with Epicurious, the cook shared, "I use other cookbooks for inspiration. I must say I tend to cook from my own cookbooks for parties. But I like specialty food store cookbooks." It's not a surprising take, considering "Barefoot Contessa" started as the name of Garten's own Long Island specialty food store, which she opened in 1978.

But when she's reaching for a cookbook that she didn't write, Garten specifically named two titles in particular: "Nantucket Open-House Cookbook" and "Cold-Weather Cooking," both by Sarah Leah Chase. Fittingly, Chase owns a specialty grocery store on Nantucket Island called Que Sera Sarah. But that's not the only thing that makes Chase's books her pick.

Sarah Leah Chase is Garten's go-to

Ina Garten and her husband Jeffrey are based in East Hampton, New York, where it gets warm in the summer and cold in the winter, so having a tried-and-true cookbook ready for both extremes surely comes in handy. Sarah Leah Chase's "Nantucket Open-House Cookbook" is the ultimate handbook for summertime entertaining, offering recipes with a focus on fresh local seafood and in-season produce. The imaginative yet simple dishes are reminiscent of Garten's trademark fun-at-home cooking style.

On the flip side, Chase's "Cold-Weather Cooking" is designed for blustery days when the only task on your to-do list is "be cozy." Her elevated comfort foods shine a spotlight on fall and winter vegetables and lively seasonings like ginger and rosemary. This cookbook inspires a little foray into the avant-garde as well, outlining dishes for making use of the outdoor grill during wintertime. For foodies with a fireplace, Chase even provides tips for cooking over the hearth inside.

When Ina Garten wants to switch it up and try out a new recipe, she's looking to the wisdom of a like-minded cook who puts simple pleasure and togetherness above duck confit or a perfectly-executed béarnaise. As the Barefoot Contessa once said herself, "Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable."