Ina Garten is definitely a rock star. At the Dominican University Leadership Lecture Series this past week, the Barefoot Contessa was greeted by a welcome as raucous as any band taking stage for their first set.
Through an hour-long Q&A with president and publisher of ForbesWoman Moira Forbes, and one of the influential corporate leaders in the nation, president and CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer, Garten shared her path to success to the sell-out crowd.
In a nutshell, Garten’s career has been driven by her love of good parties. Realizing at the age of 30 that she was more and more looking forward to her weekend activities of entertaining family and friends than her work as a nuclear policy analyst in the White House, the self-trained cook decided to turn her attention full-time to good food and doing what she loved. Almost overnight she found herself owning a specialty food store that now bears the name of all of her best-selling cookbooks and Emmy-winning television show.
As equally entertaining as her journey, the crowd had the good fortune to submit questions in advance, all of which asked the Food Network star for tips and tricks to simplifying meals made at home.
Necessary tools of the trade? No fancy mixers required. Garten designs all of her recipes with the home cook in mind.
Go-to crowd-pleaser? Garten's roasted chicken recipe. Dubbed "engagement chicken," Garten shared the eerie track record of boyfriends ending up on bended knee within a week of being served this recipe.
Her least favorite food? Cilantro. We were warned that we would find no cilantro in an Ina Garten recipe.
Advice on cooking for Turkey Day? This question brought a prompt “I hate stuffing!” Describing how stuffing can increase the likelihood for a dry bird, Garten shared her solution in the form of a morel and leek bread pudding, kept safely away from the cavity of the turkey.
My favorite moment? It was not what the women said, but how Garten and Mayer interacted together. To see two women, both leaders in their own right, come together to support, celebrate and enjoy each other was pretty magical.
Garten’s eighth book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, available in stores now and just in time for Thanksgiving, features she calls her “foolproof” method for a fabulous meal – just follow her directions!