The Real Reason Ina Garten's Mother Discouraged Her From Cooking

Ina Garten is one of the most popular celebrity chefs to grace the Food Network. The "Barefoot Contessa" host is so beloved, she even scored a cameo as "30 Rock" character Liz Lemon's dream neighbor. This is pretty amazing when you consider Garten's work experience previously centered around politics during the 1970s when she worked on the nuclear energy budget for the Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford administrations (via Insider). So, when she announced to her parents that she was leaving the White House and had bought a specialty grocery store, her parents were none too pleased. According to the New York Times, Garten's parents were bewildered. Garten revealed to the publication, ”'My job in Washington was intellectually exciting and stimulating but it wasn't me at all.” 

Wanting more for herself, Garten walked away from the influence and power associated with being a political insider as husband Jeffrey, an international trade expert, did the same (via The Daily Meal). Despite her parents' protests, Garten's North Star led her to the culinary world where she transformed her East Hampton grocery store into a destination for tourists that was stocked with ingredients locals would want to purchase. It became such the place to be that the Barefoot Contessa was featured in a scene of the 2003 movie "Something's Gotta Give." And all of this happened even though Garten's mom never wanted her to learn to cook.

Ina Garten's mom may not have wanted her daughter to be a housewife

The reason Garten's mom did not want her to learn to cook may actually have been because of the opportunities and career paths women were forging in the 1960s. Perhaps, she did not want her daughter to chart the path of the stereotypical 1950s housewife, which, per Apartment Therapy, focused on grocery shopping and making meals, cleaning the house, and taking care of the family. The Daily Meal revealed Garten's mom wanted her daughter to focus on her education, and therefore, Garten was discouraged from learning how to cook. Insider share's that Garten ultimately married in 1968 and went on to earn her degree from Georgetown University, which surely made her parents proud.

So how did Garten learn to cook? The super successful chef explained her culinary education to Today, saying, "I would have to say that Julia Child's my biggest culinary inspiration because she really taught me how to cook through her cookbooks." Things clearly worked out for Garten. She was able to pursue her passion and turn it into what many of us would consider a highly successful food empire. Not too shabby.