How Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, Has Become More Popular in Quarantine

Her first book, “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook,” published in 1999, is a culinary time capsule, preserving the recipes from Barefoot Contessa, the food store she ran in the Hamptons from 1978 to 1996, when the neighborhood was still a place to escape urban hassles like parking tickets and dress codes. Paul McCartney or Annie Leibovitz might stop to pick up sandwiches on the way to the beach, or post-aerobics class for iced coffee and banana crunch muffins.

“Turkey meatloaf, barbecued chicken and orzo with roasted vegetables, and coconut cupcakes,” said Antonia Bellanca, who owned a flower shop a few doors down in East Hampton and worked on many of the same parties that Ms. Garten catered. “I still wish that I could stop there every Friday night and buy food that I know everyone will like.”

Ms. Garten arrived there from the Jimmy Carter White House, where she was an analyst in the Office of Management and Budget (and one of only two women in her department). She had cooked her way through Julia Child’s first two books as a budding political hostess while Mr. Garten worked at the State Department, and was ready for a second career; Mr. Garten went to work on Wall Street. Her decision not to have children, rare for a young woman back then, freed up a lot of time for work in her 30s and 40s; she was 51 when her first book was published.

As a caterer, she built a reputation as a reliable perfectionist, and in its heyday, Barefoot Contessa helped define “the Hamptons” to the world outside, made it an international destination and established a style of beachy, casual luxury that persists there today (at a much higher price point).

When she and Jeffrey went into lockdown in March, the work did not stop. In addition to becoming her own social media manager, she has taken over production of her new show, “The Best of Barefoot Comfort,” acting as her own hair and makeup team, camerawoman, director, audio tech and food stylist.

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