There’s a reason why cooking has been described as the new rock and roll. Yep, when it comes to controversy, scandal and tabloid-baiting drama, the music world arguably has nothing on the current crop of celebrity chefs. And unfortunately for the once-squeaky clean Food Network, it seems to have employed many of the biggest offenders – putting its good name into real jeopardy as a result. Here’s a look at 25 cases that made the headlines.
25. Bobby Flay’s financial scandal
In 2009 Bobby Flay became one of several restaurateurs-turned-Food-Network-stars to be sued by their own employees. Yes, while the regular face of flagship show Iron Chef may present himself as an all-round good guy on screen, staff at his Mesa Grill, Bolo and Bar Americain joints claimed that Flay hadn’t treated them fairly from a financial point of view.
The disgruntled employees of the three restaurants in question argued that they had been “cheated out of wages and tips and [sought] to recover minimum wages, overtime compensation and allegedly misappropriated gratuities.” And while the celebrity chef strenuously denied these damaging allegations, he did agree to pay out a whopping $800,000 settlement.
24. Gordon Ramsay’s demeaning comments
Gordon Ramsay has never been one to hold back, but the hot-headed chef arguably crossed the line when he verbally abused a broadcaster live on stage. The Kitchen Nightmares star was at a 2009 event in Melbourne when he showed audiences a Photoshopped picture of a pig’s face attached to a naked woman crouching on all fours. Ramsey told the crowd, “That’s Tracy Grimshaw. I had an interview with her yesterday. Holy crap. She needs to see Simon Cowell’s Botox doctor.”
Grimshaw later fought back on her show, stating, “I’m not going to sit meekly and let some arrogant narcissist bully me.” And her remarks impressed Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Prime Minister, who went on to describe Ramsay as “a new form of lowlife.” A spokesman for the chef later issued an apology, admitting that “with hindsight, he realizes that his comments were inappropriate and offensive.”
23. Paula Deen’s employee
Since becoming a Food Network star, Paula Deen hasn’t been short of bad publicity. In 2013, for example, employee Dora Charles claimed to The New York Times that the chef had continually taken advantage of her. Reportedly, Charles had been instrumental in helping Deen build her cooking empire, but she was allegedly never financially rewarded as promised.
Charles said, “It’s just time that everybody knows that Paula Deen don’t treat me the way they think she treat me.” Apparently, Deen paid the woman she described as her soul sister under $10 per hour – even as she ascended through the Food Network ranks. Charles added, “I’m not trying to portray that she is a bad person. I’m just trying to put my story out there that she didn’t treat me fairly.”
22. Alton Brown’s harsh words for Anthony Bourdain
Alton Brown took particular umbrage with Anthony Bourdain’s claims that most Food Network stars can’t actually cook. The Kitchen Confidential star made the remark during his “Close to the Bone” tour in 2015, but Brown soon fought back, telling People, “I don’t have to defend my skills against anybody. I’ve got 14 years and 252 episodes of a show called Good Eats that I’m pretty sure I can use as a résumé for my skills.”
Brown then turned the tables, asking, “When was the last time you saw Anthony Bourdain actually cook anything? I’ve spent 14 years cooking my own food on television, and I’ve never seen him cook a meal.” He did acknowledge, however, that Bourdain was “the best writer about food.” And in response, the New Yorker clarified on Twitter that he had “zero beef” with Brown. In fact, the TV personality was apparently a “hero to [Bourdain’s] daughter.”
21. Jamie Oliver’s apparent hypocrisy
In 2008 Jamie Oliver was accused of hypocrisy when he blasted the sale of chickens raised in “morally wrong conditions.” The self-styled “Naked Chef” also implored viewers of one of his U.K. TV shows to boycott stores that relied on factory farming for their eggs and chickens. But his point was undermined by the fact that he was the face of just one such retailer.
Oliver had previously inked a lucrative contract with Sainsbury’s, and the British supermarket chain confirmed at the time that it wasn’t planning to change the way it sourced its chickens. After further pressure from animal welfare groups, however, Sainsbury’s later performed a U-turn. And perhaps unsurprisingly, Oliver believed that he’d been instrumental in this decision.
20. Robert Irvine’s résumé lies
It’s not exactly uncommon to add the odd white lie to a résumé to impress a prospective employer. However, Dinner: Impossible star Robert Irvine took embellishing career achievements to another level. For example, in 2008 it was revealed that the chef had claimed to have worked on Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding cake – a total fabrication. And yet this wasn’t the only untruth that Irvine had told.
Irvine asserted, you see, that he’d been responsible for feeding no fewer than four U.S. presidents – not only that, but apparently he’d been knighted by the Queen. Once the news emerged, the Food Network replaced him with Michael Symon; eventually, though, he returned to our screens and has remained a fixture there ever since.
19. Paula Deen’s diabetes
As is the case with many Food Network dishes, Paula Deen’s recipes are often laden with sugar. Few may have been particularly shocked, then, when the cook revealed in 2012 that she had Type 2 diabetes. But the plot thickened when The New York Times discovered that Deen had been diagnosed three years before her announcement.
Furthermore, it emerged that, alongside her sons, Deen had signed a deal with pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk in the same year that her diagnosis went public. That company was behind a new injectable and non-insulin form of treatment for diabetes, and so many criticized Deen for appearing to profit from a condition her own food could have exacerbated.
18. Graham Elliot’s tip-pooling controversy
In 2012 Graham Elliot, a one-time contestant on Iron Chef, was accused by no fewer than 14 waiters of pooling tips at his eponymous restaurant. Gregory Curtis – a former employee who went on to file a lawsuit – alleged that staff at the Chicago eatery were required to put their tips together, with this money then evenly distributed among all staff.
However, the practice is only legal under federal law when it involves employees who would normally receive tips. And, unfortunately for food runners and cooks, they don’t fall under this category and so shouldn’t have benefited. Ultimately, Elliot settled with the disgruntled waiters who believed they’d lost a significant sum of money.
17. Ree Drummond’s culturally insensitive remarks
The Pioneer Woman episode that got Ree Drummond into trouble actually first aired in 2012. But it took a rerun screened five years later for the chef to be called out for the culturally insensitive remarks she made on screen. And the whole drama revolved around a plate of chicken wings.
In one scene, you see, Drummond dishes out some wings of the spicy Asian variety to her family. After they turn their noses up at the food, however, the star retorts, “I’m just kidding, guys! I wouldn’t do that to you!” before bringing out some Americanized wings instead. And, unsurprisingly, this led to calls for better depictions of Asian culture on the Food Network.
16. Anne Burrell’s alleged employee discrimination
Fans may know that Anne Burrell fronted several Food Network shows, including Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and Worst Cooks in America. She first found fame, however, on Iron Chef America as a sous chef under Mario Batali. And it seems as though his temperament rubbed off on her, judging by a lawsuit filed in 2009.
In the legal documents, Burrell was accused of making derogatory remarks about many of her employees’ private lives and physical appearances at the West Village eatery Centro Vinoteca. And, interestingly, she appeared to take aim solely at her female members of staff. Burrell has never spoken publicly, though, about either the allegations or the settlement she reached with those affected.
15. Ina Garten’s Make-A-Wish snub
Ina Garten has built her reputation on being the kind of eternally cheerful and comforting mother figure who could solve any problem with a decadent and calorific pie. Yet the Barefoot Contessa perhaps isn’t as sweet as we assume, as she’s actually turned down the Make-A-Wish Foundation twice.
Yes, in 2011 the charity contacted Garten to arrange a meeting with Enzo Pereda – a six-year-old diagnosed with leukemia. At the time, though, the chef was busy on the promotional trail for one of her books and so gave a “no” in response. And she once again disappointed her young fan when she refused on a second occasion a year later. It was only when Garten’s refusals went public that she relented, and by this point Pereda had decided that he’d rather swim with dolphins.
14. Geoffrey Zakarian’s bankruptcy
Geoffrey Zakarian’s 2011 victory on Iron Chef: Super Chefs was perhaps slightly soured by the fact that he’d already declared bankruptcy. The Food Network regular had found himself in financial difficulty after being sued by several ex-employees at his Country establishment, with the lawsuit ultimately forcing him to dish out a reported $1.25 million in damages and penalties.
In particular, Zakarian was accused of tampering with pay records, skimping on overtime money for his staff and even docking wages for food that employees never actually consumed. Yet while each and every allegation stemming from the now-closed restaurant was refuted by the Chopped star, he didn’t have the funds to fight the lawsuit – and so was forced to file for bankruptcy.
13. Anthony Bourdain’s criticisms
The late Anthony Bourdain was never afraid to tell it like it is, and he appeared to take particular delight in blasting the stars of the Food Network. Sandra Lee, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri are just some of the famous faces who have found themselves at the receiving end of Bourdain’s sharp tongue over the years.
Even when Bourdain was offering a compliment to a Food Network star, he couldn’t resist throwing in a sly dig. In 2016 the star revealed to Atlanta magazine that he was a big fan of the Barefoot Contessa, a.k.a. Ina Garten, before adding, “She’s one of the few people on Food Network who can actually cook.”
12. Giada De Laurentiis’ rumored affair
Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay certainly got tongues wagging when they both left their respective partners in around the same period in 2015. De Laurentiis had initiated a divorce from Todd Thompson, while Flay had split from Stephanie, his third wife. And while the Giada At Home star had previously been linked to famous faces such as John Mayer and Matt Lauer, her fellow Food Network star was the one whom tabloids believed had prompted the end of her marriage.
Nevertheless, while speaking to Andy Cohen on his Bravo show, De Laurentiis refuted all the rumors about herself and Flay. She told the host, “Well, we’re very good friends. We’ve worked for many years together, but I don’t think [a relationship is] ever going to happen because I’m smarter than that.”
11. Guy Fieri’s supposed sexism
Guy Fieri doesn’t appear to be the most politically correct Food Network star. For one, the host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has previously been accused of making homophobic and sexist remarks away from the cameras. And according to former producer David Page, editors had to work overtime to ensure that Fieri’s wandering eyes never made it to air.
In 2011 the insider told City Pages, “Any time any woman mentioned ‘cream,’ Guy went into a sexual riff. When cutting the show, you had to tell the editors to watch Guy’s eye line, because it’s always on breasts.” And Page also appeared to reference Fieri when he summarized, “Almost everyone who becomes a star in television develops an abnormal sense of self.”
10. Bobby Flay quitting during filming
Iron Chef Showdown star Bobby Flay certainly knows how to make an exit. Halfway through the 2017 filming of an episode of the Food Network hit, the celebrity cook suddenly took off his apron to reveal a shirt emblazoned with the surprise message “This is my last Iron Chef battle ever.” And according to Vanity Fair, no one but Flay himself knew about the stunt beforehand.
Furthermore, while Flay later told People that the apron-yanking had simply been done in jest, he never returned to the show. A year later, he reportedly explained to fellow Food Network star Michael Symon that Iron Chef Showdown’s relentless schedule had prompted him to make the attention-grabbing statement.
9. Mario Batali’s lawsuit
Mario Batali has been one of the Food Network’s most troublesome stars over the years. In 2010, for instance, he made headlines for his alleged involvement in a tip-skimming scandal. Specifically, the chef was accused by several employees at his various Big Apple restaurants of taking up to 5 percent of the tips that servers had received. This cash was reportedly then used to help top up the salaries of his sommeliers.
The resulting class-action suit took two years to resolve, ending with Batali and his business associates agreeing to pay those affected a total of $5.25 million. No fewer than 117 different plaintiffs were involved in the legal proceedings, which had been launched by ex-waitress Stephanie Capsolas and former kitchen runner Hernan Ricardo Alvarado. Both had previously worked at Batali’s restaurant Babbo.
8. Cat Cora’s DUI
Cat Cora was lucky to avoid a stint behind bars following a DUI conviction in 2012. After all, the Food Network star had been twice over the legal alcohol limit when crashing her vehicle into a BMW in Santa Barbara. For this, Cora was given a suspended prison sentence, probation for three years and a fine; she was also ordered to attend DUI school for nine months.
But Cora apologized for her conduct in a statement released after the verdict. She said, “I deeply regret my decision to drive that evening after my designated driver became unavailable. I learned a very important lesson from this experience and take full accountability for my actions. This will never happen again.”
7. Josh Adam Garcia’s lies
Many viewers of The Next Food Network Star’s third season found themselves rooting for Josh Adam Garcia. The contestant, also known as JAG, claimed that he’d served in Afghanistan with the marines and was now attempting to transfer his skills to the kitchen. But it turned out that the then-25-year-old had somewhat embellished his military experience.
The Army Times reported, “[Garcia] didn’t spend nearly two years in the infantry. He didn’t deploy to any war zone. And while it’s unclear whether he was ever a corporal, what is clear is that the Corps showed him to the door nearly eight months early as a private. Oh yeah, and he never finished culinary school in New York.”
6. Giada De Laurentiis spits out her own food
Giada De Laurentiis may look like she enjoys tucking into her own dishes on her Food Network shows. However, according to an insider quoted by Page Six, the chef rarely lets her lips get anywhere near the food on camera. In fact, when it comes to close-up shots, De Laurentiis allegedly uses a double to eat for her.
Of course, there are moments when De Laurentiis is filmed eating a forkful of food with her entire face in view. But reportedly, instead of swallowing, she will spit the food back out into a bucket off camera. And while De Laurentiis’ representative has branded the claims “absurd,” they did concede that “she doesn’t eat and swallow every time” – as, apparently, there are up to ten takes for some scenes.
5. Rachael Ray’s questionable dog food
Rachael Ray is renowned for her love of animals almost as much as her passion for food. In 2018, though, she came under fire for combining the two. You see, while the Food Network star’s own brand of dog food, Nutrish, claimed to be full of natural ingredients, a lawsuit was ultimately brought over concerns that this wasn’t actually the case.
Glyphosate – a type of herbicide found in weed killers – was alleged to be one of the ingredients, contradicting the brand’s natural claims. Thankfully for Ray, the case was later dismissed, and pet retail giant Petsmart announced that it would be standing by her product. But even so, the media attention surrounding the lawsuit undoubtedly damaged the chef’s dog food venture.
4. Marcela Valladolid’s affair
You get two Food Network stars for the price of one in this particular scandal. Mexican Made Easy host Marcella Valladolid was married when she was appointed a judge on CBS’ The American Baking Competition in 2013. She was joined by the also-attached Paul Hollywood, who would later appear on the Food Network U.K.’s Paul Goes to Hollywood. And the pair soon had more than sweet treats on their minds.
Yes, Valladolid and Hollywood reportedly wasted little time in making their professional relationship a romantic one, with both of their respective partners filing for divorce once word got out. Valladolid would later find love with a new man; Hollywood’s wife, by contrast, ultimately agreed to take him back. But the British baker would once again be sent packing after having been caught kissing a TV show contestant.
3. The Neelys’ fake happiness
For 11 seasons, Down Home with the Neelys presented its husband and wife stars Pat and Gina as happily married. Everyone was left stunned, therefore, when the couple announced that they were going their separate ways – both personally and professionally – in 2014. And it turns out that their picture-perfect relationship had all been just a front.
Yes, in 2018 Gina told People that she’d been on the verge of divorcing Pat before they landed the TV show. The former bank manager also revealed that, in reality, she’d found the whole experience of being a TV personality highly stressful. Yet even so, Gina popped up on Bravo dating show To Rome for Love following her split with Pat.
2. Jamie Oliver’s cultural appropriation
A simple Jamaican-inspired dish saw Jamie Oliver accused of cultural appropriation in 2018. Apparently, the Naked Chef was attempting to showcase his love of Caribbean food by launching a product named Punchy Jerk Rice; the ingredients and Oliver’s lack of Jamaican heritage saw many come out in protest, however, over its authenticity.
Even a British MP waded in on the argument, with Dawn Butler – whose parents hailed from Jamaica – calling Oliver out for his apparent cultural theft. The chef who claimed to have taught Oliver how to make jerk chicken also voiced his displeasure. In response, though, the Brit said that he was only trying to pay tribute to the cuisine he loved.
1. Nigella Lawson’s drug use
Nigella Lawson is viewed by many as one of the most prim and proper TV chefs on our screens. It came as a shock, then, when the domestic goddess admitted to having taken cocaine. The star told a U.K. court, “I have never been a drug addict. I’ve never been a habitual user. There are two times in my life when I have used cocaine.”
Interestingly, Lawson made the confession during a court case involving two of her ex-assistants. Sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo had been accused of stealing a six-figure sum from the chef, although they claimed in turn that Lawson had given them permission to take the cash if they kept news of her drug consumption a secret. The pair were later found not guilty.
Still, even if Ina Garten is making headlines for something she’d rather not have exposed, at least she has Jeffrey to lean on. The TV chef and her beloved husband have been wed for more than five decades now, in fact – and through the ups and downs of fame. So, just how have the couple managed to endure life together this long?
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And perhaps that explains why Ina and Jeffrey have been together since their teens. Indeed, viewers of her long-running show Barefoot Contessa will already know that many of the meals she prepares are for Jeffrey.
Now, the happy couple started dating way back in 1963 when Ina visited Dartmouth College where her brother was attending. There, she was spotted by Jeffrey, who was studying for his degree at the time. And ever the smooth operator, he managed to woo her with a heartfelt letter. The rest, they say, is history.
So Ina may be the household name but, of course, Jeffrey is very much a huge success in his own right. For starters, he was the dean of the prestigious Yale School of Management (SOM) for ten years until 2005. Nowadays, however, he still works there – but as a dean emeritus. Before that, though, he served as international trade undersecretary of commerce in Bill Clinton’s U.S. government. Crucially, the couple’s busy lifestyles mean that they have apparently had to work hard at their marriage.
Indeed, with Ina traveling all over the globe for her job, the couple’s long-standing relationship is often a long-distance one. But having celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2018, the pair are obviously getting something right. So here’s a look at Ina’s rise to fame and the man who’s been by her side throughout.
Raised in the Connecticut city of Stamford, Ina Garten wasn’t particularly encouraged to pursue her talents in the kitchen. Indeed, as a youngster her mother Florence insisted that she concentrate on her schoolwork rather than her culinary skills. But the future star was eventually allowed to indulge in her passion when she married husband Jeffrey in 1968.
Then, while Jeffrey was busy serving in the Vietnam War for four years, Ina decided to explore her love of cooking. On her husband’s return, the couple enjoyed a four-month camping trip in Paris which inspired her to get into French food. There, she also developed an interest in fresh ingredients from open-air market stalls.
After returning home, Ina studied America’s most famous TV chef, Julia Child, and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking book. Subsequently, she began hosting dinner parties on a weekly basis. However, her culinary ambitions took a backseat in the early 1970s when she and Jeffrey relocated to Washington, D.C.
While her husband was busy with graduate studies in the State Department, Ina too got involved in the world of politics. Firstly, she enrolled at George Washington University to study for an MBA. Additionally, she also landed a low-level position in the White House as a government aide. But she didn’t stop there.
That’s right, for in a short space of time Ina worked her way up to the role of budget analyst. Now, this involved writing both nuclear policy papers and budgets for two Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. However, as her work commitments continued to increase, Ina found relief, once again, in the form of cooking.
And in 1978 Ina decided to wave goodbye to her government position and chase her culinary dream. For the star used the money she earned from renovating homes to buy a food store in New York’s Westhampton Beach. And its name? Maybe you’ve guessed it…Barefoot Contessa. With that, Ina was set for some success.
Although she’d never seen the Ava Gardner/Humphrey Bogart film the store was named after, Garten chose to keep the name. And it proved to be such a success that she twice had to relocate to bigger premises within the first seven years. In fact, by the mid-1980s, the store had expanded to a 3,000 square foot property in East Hampton.
Initially, Ina assumed most of the cooking duties at the store. But eventually she hired other bakers and chefs, such as future star Anna Pump, to meet demand. Furthermore, Lauren Bacall and Steven Spielberg were just two of the famous customers who sang the store’s praises in the media. However, in 1996 Ina made a decision.
Yes, she sold Barefoot Contessa to two of its workers, although she kept ownership of the property. And then, she spent her time getting to grips with the stock market and establishing her own website. In 1999 she became a best-selling author, shifting more than 100,000 copies of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.What’s more, she followed this up with the likes of Barefoot Contessa Parties! and Barefoot Contessa Family Style.
But it wasn’t until 2002 that even more fame came calling. For Ina landed her own TV show on the Food Network. Although the star initially turned down offers from the channel, she relented when the team behind Nigella Bites came on board. And named what else but Barefoot Contessa, the show instantly became a huge hit.
In fact, Barefoot Contessa attracted one million viewers each episode and in 2005 picked up its first Daytime Emmy Award nomination. By this point, Ina was being hailed as the natural successor to the disgraced Martha Stewart. But she wasn’t done there. For in 2006, she also launched her own food range, Barefoot Contessa Pantry. Then, Ina had quite the year in 2009.
Indeed, she won her first Daytime Emmy and signed on for another three years with the Food Network. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the celebrity also became the highest-paid cookbook author of all time. And how did she do this? By landing a multiple book deal worth millions of dollars.
Outside the cookery world, Ina has hosted an annual benefit night for family planning charity, Planned Parenthood. Also, she’s donated money to Presidential campaigns launched by John Kerry, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. And by regularly inviting her gay friends onto her show, Ina has also become something of an LGBTQ icon.
Of course, not everyone is entirely enamored with Ina and her style of cooking. For example, the star has been heavily criticized for her love of foods high in calories, fat and cholesterol. For you see, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine slammed recipes included in her Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That? cookbook.
But for the most part, Ina’s attempts to make entertaining guests that little bit easier have proved to be hugely popular. And it’s not just the food that makes Barefoot Contessa an appealing watch either. Indeed, filmed in Ina’s East Hampton home, the show is just as much property porn as it is a cookery.
What’s more, the show’s feelgood factor is enhanced by the various friends and family members that Ina invites on. Of course, one regular guest, in particular, has become a favorite with viewers. And it’s the man who Ina has shared her whole adult life with, her husband Jeffrey. On that note, it’s worth finding out more about their marital staying power.
Yes, because in 2019, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by giving an interview to People magazine. During the chat, Ina and Jeffrey revealed several of the secrets to their long-lasting marriage. But it was their recollection of how they got together that made for some of the most intriguing reading.
Indeed, the pair’s love story started in 1963 when a 15-year old Ina visited Dartmouth College to see her student brother. Unbeknown to her, Jeffrey had spotted Ina in the street. And subsequently, he sent her a letter with a photo of his 17-year-old self. Old fashioned as it may have seemed, it was still the 1960s. Surprisingly, moreover, Ina was actually impressed by his actions.
As the TV star went on to explain to People, “I just remember running through the house and going, ‘Mom, Mom, you’ve got to see this picture of this guy. He’s so cute!’” In fact, Jeffrey’s letter-writing came in handy, as he was soon deployed for a year to Thailand after their wedding.
“I wrote to Ina every single day,” Jeffrey revealed to People. “During the whole year I was only able to call her once.” Heartwarmingly, Ina has kept each and every letter that her husband wrote to her during their lengthy time apart. And one, in particular, amused her on reading it back nearly half a century later.
“I was recently reading through them, and I came across one that said, ‘I’d love to take you to Paris, and we won’t have enough money for a hotel, but maybe we’ll go camping’,” Ina said. Well, the couple might not have been able to afford a life of luxury at the time. But, of course, they now have a property of their own in the French capital.
In the same People interview, Ina also spoke about how her husband had inspired her early career. Now, this concerned her stint working in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget in the 1970s. She said, “He just thought I was really smart and that I could do anything. He was the first person I knew who thought that about me.”
To add to that, Jeffrey pointed out that he always believed Ina would go on to great things. As he went on to explain, “We were part of the first generation where there was a fork in the road for a lot of women, whether to pursue their careers or stay at home. Ina was a cross between the two.”
For you see, Ina still took on the role of a doting wife during her husband’s early working years. As Jeffrey recalled to People , “She would send me brownies in a shoe box when I was in college and make me sweaters. But it never crossed my mind that she wouldn’t also do something really interesting professionally.”
However, after following in her husband’s government footsteps, Ina soon came to realize that she was destined for another path. “I thought, ‘That’s not who I am, that’s who Jeffrey is,’” she told People in reference to her White House position. Sadly, though, the pair’s careers would continue to create obstacles between them.
Indeed, just as Ina was working on the Barefoot Contessa store, Jeffrey got sent to Japan by then employers, the Lehman Brothers. “For a couple of years we commuted between Tokyo and the Hamptons,” Jeffrey added. But once again it was the lost art of letter writing that helped the pair to maintain their close bond.
Yes, beautifully, during Jeffrey’s time in Japan during the 1980s, he continued to correspond with his wife via the written word. However, this time around she didn’t have to wait so long for each letter. Ina told People, “He used to write me notes all day, and he would fax them to me at night so when I woke up in the morning, I had them.”
Thankfully, the pair don’t spend as much time apart now they’re both in their early 70s. For Ina spends the majority of her time in the kitchen at their Hamptons’ home. There, she’s normally perfecting her latest cookbook or TV show recipes. Meanwhile, Jeffrey travels to and from Connecticut each day in his job as a Yale SOM professor.
But even when their work commitments do separate them, Jeffrey makes sure they stay in regular contact. That’s right, he told People, “When we’re not together, I’ll send her five or six texts per day. I love looking at her schedule. I can envision where she is and what she’s doing, and it doesn’t feel like we’re apart. If I could be with her seven days a week, 24 hours a day, that would be my ideal.”
Indeed, the pair seem to be just as much in love now as they were in their teens. “He’s just the best friend anybody could ever have,” Ina gushed to People. What’s more, she also emphasized that his slightly goofy public persona is different to the one he displays in private.
Referring to his cameos on Barefoot Contessa, Ina said, “He plays this adorable kind of doofus guy who comes in and goes, ‘Oh this is delicious, what’s in it?’ But in reality he’s extremely smart.” The cook went on to add that Jeffrey has “very interesting ideas on the world and the economy. His career has spanned government, academia, banking, and writing—he’s authored many books. I’m still just in awe of him.”
But if you thought the Gartens only communicate old school, think again. Because in addition to their interview with People for their golden wedding anniversary, they also took to Instagram. And there, they posted a series of throwback photos featuring themselves in their younger days. “How about those outfits and the ‘70s hair?,” Ina wrote of one particularly retro-looking snap.
What’s more, in another even more distant throwback photo, the couple can be seen leaving their wedding reception arm in arm. And Ina and Jeffrey appear positively beaming in the black and white image. However, there’s something a little unusual about the snap, too. For some reason, Jeffrey is carrying two tennis racquets.
You see, Ina had previously discussed the big day during a separate interview with People in 2017. She told the magazine, “It was a perfect day for a wedding. Right in the middle of the ceremony, it started to snow. It was beautiful and romantic, but by the end of the party, the poor guys parking cars had to dig everyone out!”
And the cook underlined why she feels their marriage has stayed so strong after all these years. She added, “No matter where he is, I always know that there’s nothing more important than me in his life. We give each other enormous freedom to do what we want to do. But we’re still the anchor.”
Intriguingly, Ina’s fans can look forward to discovering more insights into her and Jeffrey’s life – when her autobiography gets released. That’s right, because in October 2019 Celador Books confirmed that they would be publishing her memoir sometime in 2023. In a statement, the Barefoot Contessa star said she hopes to “inspire readers to find their own unique story.” Well, if theirs come even close to hers, they will have had quite a ride indeed.