Anyone who has ever watched the Food Network knows Ina Garten, AKA the posh and sophisticated Barefoot Contessa. Whether she’s planning a bridge party for all her friends or cooking for her husband Jeffery, she makes food the highlight of her day. It’s true that my mom may have taught me to cook, but Ina made me fall in love with food.

I’m sure you don’t need more reasons to love her, but here are the most important lessons I ever learned from the one and only Barefoot Contessa.

1. Food is the best way to show your love.

Ina Garten

Photo courtesy of @inagarten on Instagram

Ina’s loyal and adorable husband is her high school sweetheart and loyal taste tester. Jeffery never passes up the opportunity to devour and praise Ina’s cooking. The best part about their relationship? You can see that Ina gets giddy like a teenage girl every time Jeffery shows up. She loves making him happy, so much that she even made a cookbook just for him! This only reinforces that food is a great way to show someone how much you love them.

2. Cooking can be social.

Photo courtesy of @inagarten on Instagram

I’ll admit, sometimes I just want to make a bowl of mac and cheese and binge watch Netflix without any human contact. However, food can also be the best way to interact with your friends. Ina is always hosting dinner parties or swapping recipes with her equally amazing neighbors and pals. Whether we bake cookies or create a five-course meal, my friends and I always seem to have more fun when there’s food involved.

3. The best food is made with the best ingredients.

GIF courtesy of

While cooking, Ina constantly reminds her adoring viewers to use “good chocolate” or “good olive oil”. She knows the best way to cook is with fresh, local ingredients and she refuses to settle for anything that’s less than the best. This food guru will occasionally try to reassure you that “store-bought is fine”, but we all know that she only cooks with ingredients she trusts. Often, that means trips to local farmers’ markets and excursions to find the best cheeses in the area. Because of her I’ve realized that quality ingredients make all the difference.

4. You can be intelligent without being a neurosurgeon or lawyer.

Photo courtesy of

Before she owned her own specialty food store (The Barefoot Contessa) and created her show on Food Network, Ina worked in the White House. As a budget analyst for presidents Ford and Carter, she wrote the nuclear energy budget and much more. Plus, she even has a pilot license. Ina proves that you can use your talents in any way you choose. To me, this was huge in deciding to pursue my love of food, even though I have the grades to be a surgeon.

Ina’s decision to buy her own specialty foods store has inspired me to pursue my own love of food. She’s a confident and independent woman who I can look to when I need a boost of inspiration. I want to show the world that even if you’re valedictorian, you don’t need to go on to be a doctor or lawyer.

Anyone should be able to follow their dreams regardless of the expectations of others. To me, that’s studying business and hopefully opening my own restaurant someday.

5. Be comfortable in your own skin.

Photo courtesy of

Ina rarely dresses up and can usually be found in a solid-color button down shirt with her hair in her signature bob. She proves that you don’t have to be fake and uncomfortable to be admired and respected. To be fabulous like Ina, there’s no need to wear heels and sequins. How bad can that be?

6. Cooking is fun.

Photo courtesy of gaymenandgoodingredients on Tumblr

Most importantly, Ina has taught me that cooking is fun and can be enjoyed by anyone. Trying out new recipes and cooking with others is one of the simplest ways to feel happy. No matter if you goof around in the kitchen or are a professional chef, food is an important part of everyone’s life. Obviously it’s no surprise why I chose Ina as my unofficial culinary mentor. She’s just fabulous, isn’t she?

Photo courtesy of @inagarten on Instagram