The First Thing Ina Garten Learned After Entering The Food Business

When you're setting yourself up to run a specialty food store, some things on your checklist might include developing good cold salads for the prepared foods section, building the right relationships with vendors to carry high quality products, or even hiring a cheesemonger, but Food Network sensation and Barefoot Contessa owner Ina Garten had a few niche things to learn before opening her doors.

According to Cheatsheet, Garten bought the store with no knowledge of the town (Westhampton, New York), and no experience in food. In fact, Garten had just started cooking. Prior to Barefoot Contessa, she was working in the White House writing nuclear energy codes (via Insider). When the need for a change sparked, she set off on this culinary endeavor – little did she know it would lead to insane success. With her only cooking experience being in her kitchen at home, her knowledge grew as fast as her business did.

The key to cutting smoked salmon

One of the first things Garten learned, according to her clip on how to make cured salmon with dill and pernod, is how to cut smoked salmon properly. The store sold fresh bread, meats, and cheeses, with lox on a bagel being a common order. The tedious task didn't come so naturally at first, requiring an extremely sharp knife in order to cut paper-thin slices from a somewhat-slimy filet of fish. In fact, there's a specific knife made for cutting salmon in order to get the most precision. Garten compares using a chef's knife to cut salmon to performing surgery with a screwdriver – it's best to invest in a good, flexible, thin, super sharp salmon knife.

When slicing, it's best to cut at an extreme angle instead of straight down (via Lochfyneoysters). At an angle, you'll get larger, thin slices that will cover more surface area on a sandwich, while also including some of the seasoning that's on the fish. Practice makes perfect. Another great tip is to have a towel nearby to clean your hands, as the oils from the fish can cause your knife to slip. After 20 years, Garten says it's like riding a bicycle. "Once you've mastered it, you never forget how to do it." How easy is that?