Why Ina Garten Has Stayed True to Her Style As the Food Network Has Evolved
In a world of 30-second Facebook videos and competition-based reality shows, Ina Garten is sticking to the traditional format her fans have come to know and love
As the world of food media has moved increasingly toward 30-second Facebook videos and competition-based reality shows, Ina Garten is sticking to the traditional format her fans have come to know and love.
“I feel that online you don’t have the same experience,” Garten tells PEOPLE. “You don’t always have the beautiful photography you’ll find in a cookbook, and the verbal information you get from the TV show. And with all the competition shows, you don’t get to see the finished product in such a gorgeous way.”
Though Garten maintains a strong social media presence with over 1.4 million followers on Instagram (which she credits in large part to her assistant, Lidey Heuck), her focus remains on maintaining that standard with her classic products. “From day one, I’ve always felt my cookbooks should be pretty enough to give as a gift,” she says. “I feel the same way about the show. The food should be interesting and delicious but it should also be fun to watch.”
Now announcing the second season of her Food Network show Cook Like a Pro,premiering this Sunday, Garten is continuing the format that represents her signature “back to basics” approach—but, as she says, “done with a twist.”
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Rather than being wholly recipe-driven, each episode will highlight special techniques that make cooking less of a hassle. “What I find is when I cook with other people, they’re surprised by certain things that I don’t even think about,” she says. “Like, ‘Oh, we never knew you could cut corn off the cob by putting it on a clean kitchen towel so it doesn’t bounce all over the place.’ I’ve learned a lot after being in this business for 35 years, and that’s what I want to share: simple techniques that anybody can do.”
While you’re unlikely to find many trendy chef-favorite ingredients in her recipes (“I always try to use ingredients that you can get anywhere in the country,” she says), Garten says she does venture comfortably outside her repertoire in the new season. Fans can expect her take on grits, for example, a southern staple she says she’s made only once before. (She kicks hers up a notch by melting in blue cheese at the end, and pairing them with short ribs braised in a whole bottle of red wine.)
And after nearly 20 years since the release of her debut Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Garten is showing no signs of getting burnt out from the process. “I get up in the morning, and testing and writing recipes is what I feel like doing,” she says. “When I’m not cooking to work, I’m inviting friends over for dinner. It’s both my work and my fun.”
The second season of Cook Like a Pro premieres on Sunday, March 11 at 12 p.m. ET on Food Network.