The Famous People Who Went To School With Ina Garten

Everyone loves to play six degrees of separation with celebrities, which is why you'll hear lots of people brag about the famous people who went to their high school. (This writer would like everyone to know that she walked the same halls as singer-songwriter Elliott Smith and "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening). But it would be hard to beat prolific cookbook author and Food Network star Ina Garten, who went to the same high school as four other IG-verified luminaries.

When Garten started at Stamford, Connecticut's Rippowam High School (which has since closed) in the early 1960s, it had only just opened. She quickly established herself as a star science student – no surprise given her instinctive baking skills – and was encouraged to focus on her schoolwork by both her mother and her surgeon father. Still, while the "Barefoot Contessa"-to-be was likely spending a lot of time cramming for tests (she went on to study at the prestigious Syracuse University, per Food Network), she also made a point of socializing with her equally talented peers — one of whom she particularly revered back in the day. 

'Roll call: Is Bobby Valentine in attendance?'

Garten's famous contemporaries at Rippowam included Pulitzer winner James Lapine, professional baseball player Bobby Valentine, jazz musician Marion Meadows, and "Sopranos" and "Girls" executive producer Ilene S. Landress

While we can assume Garten held all her gifted classmates in high esteem, she revealed on a 2017 episode of NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" that Valentine was a hot shot even before he was a household name. The program's Mo Rocca admitted to knowing both Valentine and Lapine, telling Garten that they "worship" her. NPR's Faith Salie added, "How extraordinary that a 16-year-old girl chose someone named Jeffrey Garten over someone named Bobby Valentine," to which Garten responded, "Bobby Valentine didn't choose me. He was a hero in high school. Total hero. When he called me up I was like, oh, my God. I was like a high school girl with heart palpitations. And I was like – I think I was 65 when he called me." 

It's nice to know that even famous people get star-struck.