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    I never did get to visit Ina Garten‘s hotbed of gastronomic delights, the Barefoot Contessa in the Hamptons, but judging from her show, her cookbooks and now online shop of foodie goodies, Ina is a celeb chef a head above the rest whose been sung praises by giants like Martha and Oprah.

    But more than that, what I like best about Ina is her genteel, graceful manner, her flair for effortlessly stylish eating and simple, country-chic food.

    Unlike a lot of celeb chefs, Ina was not formally schooled in the culinary sense, did not start her career as a lowly dishwasher, nor did she apprentice under some sullen uber-chef of the 80′s. In fact, she first got truly inspired during a 3-month long camping trip in France in the 70′s, when she was exposed to the country’s love for the elegantly fresh food. The rest she learned from cookbooks like you and me.

    While working in the White House on nuclear energy policy, Ina decided to make a drastic change. She bought a small store in the Hamptons (a place that was completely alien to her) called the Barefoot Contessa.

    Twenty years later, the humble food specialty store grew into a 3,000 sq.feet veritable food emporium where people came from far and wide to buy Ina’s fabulous home-cooked meals, baked goods, condiments, salads and breads.

    She sold the business to her employees in 2001 (which numbered to nearly 50), who sold it themselves in 2003. Good news though – you can now buy Ina’s goodies online at the Barefoot Contessa Pantry, put together in conjunction with the Stonewall Kitchen.

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