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05/14/2013 11:49 am ET

How Ina Garten Went From Nuclear Policy Analyst To Beloved Chef

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If you’ve never seen an episode of The Barefoot Contessa, watch one as soon as possible. You don’t like cooking shows? Don’t let that stop you. The dishes featured on The Barefoot Contessa certainly look delectable—fun, flavor-packed, and achievable at home—but the show is as much about Ina Garten, the contessa herself, as it is about the food. The shows are filmed in Garten’s own kitchen in a converted barn on her spacious estate in East Hampton, N.Y., and she treats the viewer like a competent but underskilled apprentice, bantering light-heartedly as she walks us through each dish. It’s alluring, even entrancing: instruction disguised as entertainment, all presented with Garten’s sophisticated yet down-to-earth charm.

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