Here's what Ina Garten did before becoming a professional cook

Although there are a sizable number of people out there who recognize the name Ina Garten, there are probably even more who know her as the Barefoot Contessa. And an even smaller number of people than those who know both her real name and her stage name know what she did before becoming a world-renowned cookbook author and Food Network host.

In a previous life, Garten worked at the White House, and her responsibilities were pretty impressive. She actually wound up working in the Office of Management and Budget, and later worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission where she was responsible for the budget of the nation's nuclear arsenal (via Vox). 

Though it might seem like a dream job for a politics buff, she was disenchanted by the position. "My job in Washington was intellectually exciting and stimulating, but it wasn't me at all," she later told a reporter for The New York Times.

Leaving the White House...and coming back agin

In 1978, she thought to herself, "There's got to be more to life than this," which is when she decided on a rather drastic career change (via Food Network). First, she dabbled in the real estate business with her husband Jeffrey, the co-star of many an episode of Garten's show. The house flipping that the Gartens did was successful enough for her to be able to purchase a specialty food store in the Hamptons, Barefoot Contessa, which set her on the career path that she's still on today. 

Although she never went back to work in politics, Garten did make a trip back to the White House in 2016, when she had lunch with First Lady Michelle Obama for a special one-hour episode of Barefoot Contessa (via Time). "You've inspired girls all over the world, including me, so thank you," Garten told the first lady. Well, we are inspired by her as well!