The Unexpected Way A Sitcom Inspired Ina Garten To Pursue Her Career

To say that the Barefoot Contessa has had an interesting life so far would be an understatement. Before becoming the beloved cookbook author and TV personality she is known as today, Ina Garten dabbled in several different industries. The New York native launched her career in the White House, where she worked as a budget analyst in the Office of Management and Budget, as noted by Wide Open Eats.

For nearly four years, the celebrity chef wrote nuclear energy policy papers and budgets during Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford's presidencies. While her work may have been important and meaningful, she knew that she hadn't found her calling just yet, and Garten even passed on working with the United Nations. Instead, a dissatisfied, 30-year-old Ina decided to take the leap and buy a specialty food store in Westhampton (via Eat This, Not That). The name of the charming shop? Barefoot Contessa. It was only after she sold her store in 1999, that Garten was inspired to finally write her first cookbook at 51-years-old.

The Barefoot Contessa is living proof that it's never too late to follow your dreams. But what was the moment that kick-started this entire series of events? It all began with a little piece of advice and a single sitcom episode (via Food Network).

Ina Garten's husband gave her a piece of advice that changed everything

Every celebrity chef has a unique origin story. While Nigella Lawson was a publisher turned cookbook author, Martha Stewart launched her career in the finance industry before discovering her love of homemaking (via The Recipe). Ina Garten was no different.

Before Garten was a White House budget analyst, store owner, cookbook author, and Food Network star she was a military wife. One fateful day, Garten met her husband Jeffrey when she was visiting her brother at Dartmouth College (per Eat This, Not That!). For Jeffrey, it was love at first sight and five years later, the couple walked down the aisle and have been married for more than five decades since.

As a newlywed, Garten had all of the time in the world to do her favorite thing — cook for the love of her life. But as time pressed on, Jeffrey knew that she needed more. He came home one day and offered a piece of advice that changed Ina's life forever. According to the Food Network, it was 11 a.m and Garten was watching an episode of the sitcom "That Girl." He turned to her and said, 'You have to do something. You won't be happy if you don't.'" These words of wisdom inspired Garten to kick things into high gear, inspiring her to finish college and launch her own career.