I like Ina Garten. If you aren’t familiar with Ina, aka The Barefoot Contessa, she hosts a show on Food Network. Yes, some of us watch TV about food. A surprisingly large number of folks actually. Check out Ina’s baked applesauce recipe here for an introduction to her recipes.
But her food isn’t why I like her. In this age of chef-turned-celebrity, Ina isn’t slick, she isn’t cozy, she isn’t down-home or prone to shouting “Bam”. No, she is a plump woman who uses liberal amounts of cream, butter and vodka in her cooking, and unashamedly so. She adores her husband and her life – and why wouldn’t she? She lives in a gorgeous town in a gorgeous house and she has tons of cash. What’s not to love? But even with all that, her style is comfortable and easy-going. If I could somehow arrange a visit to her house, I imagine that she’d serve some coffee and scones, with maybe a nip of something stronger. If I tried the same thing at Martha Stewart’s place, at best I would have to slip on protective booties on my shoes and at worst I’d be hauled off to the clink.
I like chefs that are approachable and real. Not skinny Italian babes that serve their breasts up like jello molds or Southern belles so heavy on the hunny that I could wind up in a diabetic coma. I don’t dig guys that yell at the TV or measure each ingredient out with tweezers. I don’t like pseudo-chefs that sell their merchandising with their yum-o faces plastered on cracker boxes rather than make good food. I don’t like “food porn” as it has been labeled; food that is good to watch but not something that people really make.
So I guess that leaves Ina. Frumpy, fabulous Ina. Ina with the gorgeous house and the loving husband. Ina with the amazing recipes and rich friends. Ina who never shows a recipe for a single drink, but for the whole pitcher. She’s the kind of chef that turns me on. She’s got a great laugh and her food is real, so keep on rocking it, Ina. And pass me another cheddar dill scone.