Ina Rosenberg Garten was born on February 2, 1948. She is an American author, host of the Food Network program Barefoot Contessa, and a former staff member of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Garten's mother-in-law bought her a subscription for Time Life cookbooks series and influenced her. Later, she relied on intuition and feedback from friends and customers to refine her recipes.
She was primarily mentored by Eli Zaber (owner of Eli's Manhattan and Eli's Breads) and food connoisseur Martha Stewart. Among her dishes are curb à la crème, celery root remoulade, pear clafouti, and a simplified version of beef bourguignon. Her culinary career began with her gourmet food store, Barefoot Contessa; Garten then expanded her activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded convenience products, and a popular Food Network television show.
At 15, she met her future husband Jeffrey Garten, on a trip to visit her brother at Dartmouth College. After high school, she attended Syracuse University but postponed her educational pursuits to marry. On December 22, 1968, Jeffrey and Ina were married in Stamford and soon relocated to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She began to dabble in cooking and entertaining in an effort to occupy her time; Jeffrey served a four-year military tour during the Vietnam War.
She also acquired her pilot's certificate. After her husband had completed his military service, the couple journeyed to Paris, France, for a four-month camping vacation; the trip sparked her love for French cuisine. During this trip, she was introduced to open-air markets, produce stands, and fresh cooking ingredients. Upon returning to the U.S., she began to cultivate her culinary abilities by studying the volumes of Julia Child's influential cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. During this time, weekly dinner parties turned to tradition, and she refined her home entertaining skills when she and her husband moved to Washington, D.C. in 1972.