Ina Garten Reveals the “Stupidest” Thing She’s Ever Done

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

In 2018, few people remain as unproblematic and praise-worthy as Ina Garten (she’s in good company alongside Oprah and Beyoncé). It’s no wonder that we look up to her as a role model: She and Jeffrey are living their best lives, whipping up easy vinaigrette dressings, and hanging out with their friend Jennifer Garner in East Hampton. But Ina’s life wasn’t always so enviable; she too has experienced self-doubt.

In a recent interview with Katie Couric, Ina revealed that she didn’t even think she’d have a career (let alone one that would shoot her to stardom) until she turned 30. Her husband, however, perhaps sensing that his wife was destined for greatness, encouraged her to pursue her passions. At the time, Ina was working in the White House as a government official, but one day, while reading the newspaper, she came across an advertisement for a cafe up for sale in Westhampton, New York. She decided to buy it.

Ina wasn’t quite sure she had made the right decision. The first week into owning her new business, called Barefoot Contessa, of course, Ina remembers telling Jeffrey, “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I will never, ever figure out how to run this business.”

Luckily, Ina shook off her feelings of insecurity, and trusted her keen business sense. Barefoot Contessa took off — and we know the rest of the story. Looking back, Ina is grateful she had the courage to “jump in the pond,” and start writing cookbooks, which turned out to be the most interesting thing she’s ever done (even more interesting than working in the White House!). Her advice to anyone feeling stagnant at work? Look back on what your dream career was when you were eight or nine. “That’s what you probably love to do,” she says.

There’s also an important lesson to be learned here: Even the most successful among us haven’t always been confident in themselves or their dreams. The key is put aside your fears, and never give up on yourself. If Ina had abandoned the shop, we wouldn’t have her shows or any of her cookbooks, and that’s a loss I can’t even comprehend.