Food Network personality, cookbook author Ina Garten visits SMU

By Alison Glander

Ina Garten, the famous Food Network personality and cookbook author behind the “Barefoot Contessa” brand, visited McFarlin Auditorium Wednesday to share her evening with Dallas fans. Her first stop on a short and sweet national tour, Garten shared the story of her rise to fame with her fans, as well as the inspiration behind her newest cookbook, “Make It Ahead.”

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Hoards of women all ages and even a few men funneled into the auditorium before the show, some older women hobbling in much later than the official 7:30 p.m. start time. Every seat in the auditorium was filled with those lucky enough to snatch up a ticket before they quickly sold out upon release.

Garten took the stage to an applause so loud one would think he or she was at a rock concert. Garten was nicely dressed in all black, her well-coiffed bob so glossy it shined in the stage light. Her classy demeanor was the same as it is on T.V.; however, she did slip a curse word or two, shocking audience members since it was so out of character.

For the next two hours, a moderator asked Garten various questions ranging from the challenging process of creating a cookbook to what it’s like filming a cooking show. Audience members asked for tips and trick for hosting a great dinner party as well as for advice on various cooking techniques and recipes.

“Find a few recipes you feel comfortable with and experiment with them,” Garten said.

Garten also provided advice ranging from her favorite olive oil (Olio Santo – for those who were wondering), as well as inspiration that would comfort any college student worried about his or her future.

Garten began her career as a White House nuclear policy analyst, but as she neared the age of 30, decided life was too short to work at a job that wasn’t for her. She decided to purchase a 400-square-foot specialty food store in the Hamptons, and the rest became history.

Due to her success at the food store, she decided to write a cookbook that was so popular, it brought her to the attention of The Food Network. They asked her to do 13 episodes, but she was such a natural on T.V. that she has been starring in her own show ever since that first season 12 years ago.

“If you love it, you’ll be really good at it,” Garten said. “What works is if you’re just yourself.”

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