Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten Gets Quizzed On Footwear On Not My Job In 1978, Garten left her government job and bought a specialty food store in the Hamptons. That store grew into a career, a series of cookbooks and a popular show on the Food Network.
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Not My Job: We Quiz The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, On Footwear

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Not My Job: We Quiz The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, On Footwear

Not My Job: We Quiz The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, On Footwear

Not My Job: We Quiz The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, On Footwear

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Courtesy of Penguin Random House
Ina Garten
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

In 1978, Ina Garten was working for the White House Office of Management and Budget, and felt like it was time for a change. When she came across a newspaper ad for a food store for sale in the Hamptons, she bought it. That store — the Barefoot Contessa — grew into a career, a series of cookbooks and a popular show on the Food Network.

And yet, after all that success, she's somehow still barefoot. We've invited her to answer three questions about footwear.


And now the game where people who've come a long way go a tiny bit backwards. It's called Not My Job. So Ina Garten was looking around for something to do after leaving a job in government, and she saw a for sale ad for a food store in the Hamptons, a store with an unusual name, she bought the store. Eventually she grew that into a career, a series of cookbooks and the most popular show on the Food Network, all known by the name of that store. Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

INA GARTEN: (Unintelligible).


SAGAL: So let's go over the details of your origin story as if you were a superhero. Was that all true? You used to work in the White House, or at least nearby, right?

GARTEN: I did - no, I worked in the White House. I worked in the Office of Management and Budget on nuclear energy policy.

SAGAL: So were you an enthusiastic cook back then?

GARTEN: I was learning how to cook then. I would work at OMB during the day and I'd go home and cook at night.

SAGAL: I have heard that you bought the store called The Barefoot Contessa out in the Hamptons without ever having seen it. Is that right?

GARTEN: No, I actually had seen it. I saw it once. They were baking cookies and I thought, this is where I need to be. (Laughter) And I made an offer on the store and went back to my office in Washington thinking, well, that'll never happen. And the owner called me the next day and said, thank you very much, I accept your offer. And I just went, oh [expletive].


SAGAL: Well, tell me about the store. What was the original store like?

GARTEN: It was 400 square feet. It was so small that you couldn't get - the stove didn't fit into the kitchen, so it was actually in the store. If you wanted to put something in the oven you had to go into the store. And it was great. I mean, it was - I always wanted it to feel like a party, and it did. We had great music and we had samples of cookies out, and everybody had a great time. They would come in just to see what was going on.

SAGAL: Right. Right. And how long did you own that store?

GARTEN: Well, I owned the first store for three years. Then I bought a bigger store. And then I moved to East Hampton to a much bigger store. So the store I owned at the end was 3,000 square feet.

SAGAL: Right. OK. And then you started doing your cookbooks once the store became really known.

GARTEN: No, actually, after I - I sold the store to employees and then I started doing cookbooks.

SAGAL: Oh, really?


SAGAL: You got out of the food business.

GARTEN: (Laughter) And into the - out of the frying pan and into the pot or whatever it is.

SAGAL: Yeah.

FAITH SALIE: Ina, I don't know how to cook. And I - this is, like, a big stain in my life.


SALIE: Tell me...

JEFF GARLIN: There'd be a bigger stain if you did cook.


SALIE: Maybe. I mean, tell - what's the - tell me the number one thing I need to know to help me start or give me...

GARTEN: You know, this - I make roast chicken, and that is the simplest thing in the world to make. And I met some girls that worked at Glamour magazine, and they said, we call it engagement chicken because every time somebody in the office makes it for their boyfriend they're engaged within 24 hours.



GARLIN: Ina, your last name is Garten, right?


GARLIN: OK. Your husband's name is Jeff Garten.

GARTEN: Jeffrey, yes.

GARLIN: Jeffrey Garten. I'm Jeffrey Garlin. How are you?


SAGAL: Jeffrey, you're so delighted by that. It's adorable.

GARLIN: I am. By the way, my wife Marla bought me that cookbook, "Cooking For Jeffrey."

GARTEN: (Laughter) That's great.

GARLIN: And - but she cooks from it 'cause I can't do that.

SAGAL: Yeah.

GARLIN: I only know how to put SpaghettiOs on pizza.


GARLIN: But by the way, your food is delicious.

GARTEN: Thank you.

GARLIN: Young people love it. Old people love it. Mostly Jews if they're old people.

SAGAL: Yeah?


GARLIN: But they love your cooking.

SAGAL: Speaking of someone who loves your cooking...

GARTEN: Uh-oh.

SAGAL: ...What is it like to be in Taylor Swift's posse?

GARTEN: In Taylor Swift's - well, I'm not exactly in her posse. But I spent some - she came for a photo shoot and we made a pavlova together, which was wonderful.

SAGAL: I'm sorry, you made a what together?

GARTEN: Pavlova, which is...

SALIE: I just talked about this in the bluff.

GARTEN: ...Meringue and whipped cream and berries.

ROCCA: Is it like Anna Pavlova?

SALIE: Yes, it's...

GARTEN: Like Anna Pavlova.

SALIE: It's named after her.


GARTEN: Exactly. It looks like a tutu.

ROCCA: Trump thinks she's alive.

SAGAL: Yes. And I'm assuming, just given the way that Taylor Swift looks, after you made it she looked at it hungrily then went back to her diet of carrot sticks and cardboard.

GARTEN: No, she just dove right in.

SAGAL: Did she really?

GARTEN: Yeah (laughter).

GARLIN: What was she wearing?

GARTEN: She really enjoys good food.


SAGAL: Is Taylor Swift a good cook? I don't know.

GARTEN: She's a very good cook, yeah.

SAGAL: Really?

GARTEN: She loves to cook.

SAGAL: Is there anything she can't do?

GARTEN: No (laughter).

SAGAL: Really?

GARTEN: Not as far as I can see. She's pretty extraordinary.

ROCCA: You want to know an interest - is this true, that you went to high school with both Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine and legendary baseball manager Bobby Valentine?

GARTEN: I did. How did you know that?

ROCCA: Because I know them both and they...

GARTEN: Do you really?

ROCCA: They worship you.

GARTEN: And I adore both of them.

SAGAL: What high school was this?

GARTEN: Rippowam High School in Stamford, Conn.


SALIE: How extraordinary that a 16-year-old girl chose someone named Jeffrey Garten over someone named Bobby Valentine.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SALIE: It could've gone a different way.

GARTEN: Bobby Valentine didn't choose me. He was a hero in high school. Total hero. When he called me up I was like, oh, my God. I was like a high school girl with heart palpitations. And I was like - I think I was 65 when he called me.


SAGAL: Well, Ina Garten, we are delighted to talk to you. We have invited you here to play...

BILL KURTIS: They're snazzy but a bit pinchy in the toe box.

SAGAL: You are, of course, the Barefoot Contessa, so naturally we decided to ask you about shoes. Answer two out of three questions about footwear, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Ina Garten playing for?

KURTIS: Carol Anthony of New Orleans, La.

SAGAL: All right, you ready to play, Ina?

GARTEN: I'm ready.

SAGAL: Here's your first question. There are, of course, a lot of specialty shoes. Which of these might you really be able to slip onto your own feet - A, Ski Walkers, shoes that sprout skis when you want to get down a snowy hill quickly; B, Phone Holder shoes, which can hold your smartphone in the toe so you can just look at your feet and enjoy some YouTube; or C, No Place Like Home shoes, you click your heels together three times and a GPS unit guides you home?

GARTEN: One of those is true?

SAGAL: It's true. One of them is.

GARTEN: What was the first one?

SAGAL: Ski Walkers, shoes that sprout skis when you want to get down a snowy hill quickly.

GARTEN: (Laughter) How about three?

SAGAL: You're going to go for three? Is that your choice?

GARTEN: I have no idea (laughter).

SAGAL: Well, three is the No Place Like Home shoes. You click your heels together and it lights up and shows you how to go home.

GARTEN: No (laughter).

SAGAL: No? You have to choose one, I'm afraid.

GARTEN: Phone holder shoes?

SAGAL: Phone Holder shoes, that's the middle choice. You just put your phone on it, you can walk around, look down at your shoe, there's your phone.

SALIE: I feel...

GARTEN: (Laughter) They're all so improbable I'm going to choose that one.

SAGAL: You're going to choose that one? No, it was actually the No Place Like Home shoes.

GARTEN: It - I was right the first time.

ROCCA: It was the third one?

SAGAL: It was, yes.

ROCCA: Damn.

SALIE: Really?

SAGAL: These are shoes...

SALIE: What?

SAGAL: They're not commercially available yet. But yes, the idea is you click three times and it lights up LEDs and it points you the way home.

SALIE: Are they red, sparkly shoes?

SAGAL: I hope so.

GARTEN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right, next question. You still have two more chances. Shoes can get you in trouble as when which of these incidents happened - A, a fleeing drug dealer was caught by police in a nighttime foot chase because he was wearing those light-up shoes that light up...


SAGAL: B, 13 models ended up in a basement where the combined stress of their high heels punched through the runway floor; or C, a woman's slingback mules got her thrown out of church because of salacious revealing of the toes?

GARTEN: The drug dealer.

SAGAL: You're right, it's the drug dealer.



SAGAL: Happened in the early '90s when those shoes were popular. All right, last question. If you get this you win it all. Here we go. One day in 2014, basketball player Manu Ginobili's Nike sneakers did something nobody had ever seen before. What? A, they adhered to the ball, resulting in a scrum of people trying to pull the ball off Ginobili's foot; B, they exploded; or C, they shot lasers every time Ginobili scored?

GARTEN: Hm (ph).


GARTEN: (Laughter) I think lasers.

SAGAL: You think lasers, that he had shoes that shot lasers?


SAGAL: Mo doesn't like it.

SALIE: What year was this?

SAGAL: This was just 2014.

GARTEN: They exploded.

SAGAL: They explode - you're going to choose that one?


SAGAL: That's what happened.


GARTEN: They just exploded.

SAGAL: They just spontaneously burst into...


GARLIN: They did.

SAGAL: ...Pieces, yeah.

GARLIN: They were Nike Airs.

SAGAL: Yeah.

GARLIN: And they exploded air.

SAGAL: Yeah.

GARLIN: It's true.

GARTEN: Like telephones, they're not allowed on airplanes now, right?

SAGAL: Yeah, it's true.

ROCCA: Right. Right.

SAGAL: Bill, how did Ina Garten do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Well, here if you get two out of three you're a winner, and she did just that.

SAGAL: Congratulations.

KURTIS: Congratulations, Ina.


SAGAL: Ina Garten is the Barefoot Contessa. Her latest cookbook is "Cooking For Jeffrey." Ina Garten, thank you so much for joining us.

GARTEN: So much fun.

SAGAL: Thank you, Ina. Take care.


ROBERT PARKER: (Singing) We barefootin' (ph). We barefootin'. We barefootin'. We barefootin'.

SAGAL: Just a minute, Bill reveals this summer's hottest fashion item. It's the Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

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