Ina Garten Celebrates 20 Years of “Barefoot Contessa” with a Look Back at Her First-Ever Episode

published Jan 12, 2023
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Ina Garten
Credit: Photo: Getty Images, Graphic: Kitchn

When it comes to celebrity chefs, few can rival the storied career of Ina Garten. With top-selling cookbooks (she’s onto #13 now!), magazine features, and her classic show, Barefoot Contessa, she has done it all. As this year marks the 20th anniversary of the show on Food Network, Ina shared a clip from the first-ever episode to commemorate the special occasion. And while the show is a massive hit now, can you believe it almost didn’t happen?

After a successful stint as a budget analyst for the federal government, Ina realized that the job didn’t align with her passion for cooking. So when she spotted an ad for a store by the name of Barefoot Contessa in New York, she quickly purchased it. After 20 years, the store had a loyal and devoted following, becoming a go-to for many in East Hampton, New York.

Never one to rest on her laurels, she began compiling the recipes for the store’s popular dishes in cookbooks. The success of the books led to notable features on Martha Stewart’s show and subsequently, an offer for her own show from Food Network. While many chefs would jump at the opportunity to host a show, Ina declined the offer several times. Eventually, however, she agreed to do an initial 13-episode season — and the rest, well, is history.

Reflecting on the first episode, Ina shared a clip of herself making a pitcher of freshly squeeze lemonade and suggesting vodka as an optional mix-in. “A lot has changed, but I guess that some things never will??” she joked in the caption, referring to her love of a good cocktail.

Undoubtedly, Ina has cemented her spot in culinary history while creating a blueprint for future generations. She’s even found fame in the social media age due to clips from her show being popular in memes and gifs. No matter what step the Barefoot Contessa takes next, we will happily follow. 

You can find the full recipe for Ina’s fresh lemonade here.