Controversial Things Everyone Just Ignores About Ina Garten

Ina Garten — known as the Barefoot Contessa, and host of the show of the same name – is a well-known figure in the world of cooking shows and celebrity chefs, and there's a good reason for that. Sure, she might look perfectly put together all the time, and sure, Garten might be talking to us from a gorgeous house in the Hamptons that most of us can only dream about setting foot in, much less owning. But at the same time, she manages to be one of those people that we'd love to hang out with — because we know it'd just be a fun time, and we're pretty sure she wouldn't judge us for wearing our PJs in front of the fire where she likes to roast post-dinner s'mores.

Plus, has anything ever been more relatable than when she made a giant cocktail-for-one with a few cups of vodka... and a few more cups of other liquors?

But even the biggest and best celebrity chefs have managed to spark some controversy. With Ina Garten, most of her missteps were viewed as missteps by only part of her audience...but doesn't that make it even more controversial? Here's what she's done that has gotten some of her fans all riled up.

When she got a traditional Mexican dish terribly wrong

Many cultures have their ages-old dish that's special to them, and in Mexican cuisine, one of those is posole (sometimes spelled "pozole"). According to Cooking Light, the dish dates back to the Aztecs. Traditionally made with pork or chicken, posole is sort of like a light stew that stars hominy, a dried and rehydrated type of maize — which you'll also find in menudo, another Mexican stew, but made with tripe as its protein of choice. Posole can be red or green, and there's plenty of versatility already there... but when some fans saw Ina Garten's version of it, they called her out.

LA Taco called her re-imagining of it an example "of lazy-ass attempts at cooking one of the world's few cuisines that have been deemed an 'Intangible Heritage of Humanity' by UNESCO." And viewers condemned it for being about as authentically Mexican as Taco Bell's tacos. Many said that her additions of bell peppers, tortilla chips, cheese, green onions, sour cream, and black beans didn't just make it not posole, but it was pretty much a mash-up of chili and tortilla soup. To add insult to injury, her video was posted at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month — a time when it's extra important to get things right. 

To drive the point home, the article punned on the word "audacity," headlining the piece, "The Caucacity." Don't mess with posole, Ina!

Here's why one of her cookbooks was named the worst in America

Part of the allure of the Barefoot Contessa is that she makes things you can actually see yourself making, and that's important (though, when it comes to certain foods like Bouillabaisse, the Barefoot Contessa is stumped). But everyone seems to overlook the fact that if you make her recipes regularly, they just might be killing you. Take her cookbook "How Easy Is That?" It was named one of the worst cookbooks of the year when it came out in 2010.

By whom? The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. They didn't pull any punches, either, saying (via Grub Street): "... she weaponizes simple, healthy vegetables with high-fat meat and dairy products. ... Recipes for meat dishes, such as Steakhouse Steaks, are pretty straightforward—and so are the health consequences." 

Food blog Amateur Gourmet took the opportunity to point out that was par for the course with her recipes, saying, "watching her on TV I sometimes want to scream: don't you ever cook anything that doesn't require a cardiologist? Not every recipe needs a gallon of fat to make it taste good." They pointed to her famous cupcakes, which were amazing (though cupcakes may be harder to make than you think), but called for two packs of cream cheese and six sticks of butter. While a low-fat diet isn't a sure bet for curing all your fitness woes, you certainly shouldn't go all in on cream cheese and butter.

It's no wonder, then, that AG summed up their feelings like this: "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is the most used cookbook on my self. I love it. But I'm starting to realize a Barefoot Contessa diet is unsustainable, unless I want to go to an early grave."

She supports one of the most controversial organizations in America

There's a lot of charities a celebrity might choose to support or endorse, and Ina Garten has chosen one of the most controversial: Planned Parenthood. Other celebrities have found out just how controversial supporting Planned Parenthood can be. In 2017, the Huffington Post was reporting that people were calling for the boycott of Jim Beam after spokesperson Mila Kunis publicly stated that she had made donations to Planned Parenthood under conservative Vice President Mike Pence's name. Others have felt some serious wrath, too: per a September 2016 write-up on Cleveland Scene, Sia, Leslie Jones, and Jessica Williams drew protests when they took the stage for an All Access Coalition/Planned Parenthood event in the Ohio city. And when Ariana Grande went public with a $250,000 donation to Planned Parenthood, she was targeted by some serious online hate, like this Facebook comment and the ones that followed. 

In spite of that — and at a time when The New York Times announced that the federal government was blocking funds for Planned Parenthood and instead channeling them into pro-life organizations — both Garten and her husband continue to support the charity — particularly by acting as chair-people for various fundraising events. Occasionally — as with a 2004 wine and cocktail party held to benefit Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic — those events are held at their Hamptons home, reported The New York Times

When she turned down a request from Make-a-Wish

Make-A-Wish is, of course, the brilliant charity that grants wishes to sick children across the country, and it was Garten's handling of one request that earned her the outrage of a nation. (Or, to be fair, one of her staff's handling. It's never been clear exactly who said no, but it was done under her name, and that was good enough for social media to get out the pitchforks.)

According to Salon, it all started when TMZ reported that Garten's camp had first given a "soft no," to Enzo Pereda, a 6-year-old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They cited a busy schedule, and followed up that answer with a definite "no," but that's not the end of the story. His family says they spent three years trying to reach out to her and set up a meet-and-greet. Suddenly, every media outlet in the country and tons of people on social media were condemning her, and no amount of damage control seemed to make it better. 

There were stories like the Los Angeles Times piece called "'Barefoot Contessa' taking heat for repeatedly rejecting 'Make-A-Wish' cancer patient," which was reporting on the new nickname she'd been saddled with by at least one other article on the internet: the Heartless Contessa. Meanwhile, the public headed to social media to call for boycotts of her merch and cookbooks, and even demand the cancellation of her show (via The Wrap).

Garten later reached out to the family in an attempt to set up the meet-and-greet, but ABC News reported that this time she had been turned down: Pereda was going to swim with dolphins instead.

When she let her feelings about President Trump be known

According to Eater, Ina Garten has rarely said much about her political leanings. Until, that is, an interview with Frank Bruni, a former restaurant critic for The New York Times.

He asked her what she would serve notable political figures. She said she'd serve Elizabeth Warren some lobster mac 'n cheese, cook Beto O'Rourke a full dinner of pulled pork with all the sides, and thought Joe Biden would like, "Something fun, like a lobster and clambake." But she had something else in mind for Trump: "A subpoena."

Not everyone was thrilled with her very direct response, and while Refinery 29 called it "A Grade-A Roast," other responses were less amused. One response on Refinery 29's post ventured, "I used to like her but she is rude with this one. Donald Trump is our President and people need to give him the respect he deserves..." while another said, "I used to like her, not anymore." 

On The Kitchn, one comment in particular suggested at least one person wanted Garten to feel the displeasure of her fans in another way: "Too bad, was going to buy her new book, but won't now."

She hates the hottest coffee trend out there

Everyone knows it's fall not by the start of the new school year, by the lengthening nights, or by the cooler temperatures; we know it's fall because Starbucks announces the return of the pumpkin spice latte. It's a huge deal. In 2019, The Guardian reported that it had taken over more than 50 countries, and was estimated to rake in a shocking $1.4 billion in annual sales. It goes without saying that there's a lot of people who really love their PSLs (or, a moderate amount of people who really, really love them), but the Barefoot Contessa? Not so much.

When Today asked her about her thoughts on the hottest food trends out there, she was very forthcoming. While avocado toast was one of her favorites — as long as it's well-seasoned — and other trendy foods including kale, almond milk, and grain bowls were a-OK with her, she wasn't a fan of the PSL at all.

She remarked, "I like coffee to taste like coffee." Ouch! Say it ain't so!