As two of the most popular food stars on television, you might think there would be a little friendly competition between Ina Garten and Martha Stewart, when in fact, they’ve actually been supporting each other since day one.
When Garten stopped by Michael Ian Black’s podcast How to Be Amazing, he asked the Food Network star how Stewart came to write the foreword for her first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. “It seems like at the time you would have been rivals of some sort,” he says, “or was it always just, ‘We’re in the same business and we’re buddies?'”
Garten reveals that she met Stewart in East Hampton, N.Y., where they both have homes, at her now-closed specialty food store years ago. “My desk was right in front of the cheese case and we just ended up in a conversation,” she says. “We ended up actually doing benefits together where it was at her house and I was the caterer and we became friends after that.”
Stewart even encouraged Garten to submit her first book proposal and put her in touch with an editor at Clarkson Potter.
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Though they share a friendship and a neighborhood, Garten is not naive to their differences. “I think maybe what I do is I take one step back and make it a little simpler so it’s really doable,” she says. “Martha does love the gorgeous presentation, so if she’s making a pumpkin soup, she might carve out a pumpkin and serve it in the pumpkin, which is great.”
Garten also admires Stewart for her ingenuity in the business — and how it inspired her own career.
“I think she did something really important, which is that she took something that wasn’t valued, which is home arts and raised it to a level that people were proud to do it and that completely changed the landscape,” she says. “I then took it in my own direction, which is that I’m not a trained professional chef, cooking is really heard for me — here I am 40 years in the food business it’s still hard for me.”
“I love doing it, I love the challenge of it,” she continued, “but I know that somebody who hasn’t been in the food business for 40 years has even more difficulty than I do so it’s got to be a really simple recipe.”