For those of us who have been watching Barefoot Contessa from the beginning, the mere presence of Ina Garten on screen is comforting on a very real and deep level. Now, after 24 seasons of the Food Network series, the culinary guru is changing up the format for her new show.
With Barefoot Contessa, Cook Like a Pro premiering on Sunday, Garten will put a particular emphasis on the techniques she uses to make cooking easier. “People email me the craziest questions all the time,” she tells PEOPLE Food exclusively. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t I answer these on the show?'”
“If somebody wants to know how you cut cauliflower so it doesn’t get all over the kitchen, well, I turn it over, cut out the core and pull the florets apart. I really wanted to do all those little things I’ve learned professionally over the years that will make people feel like they can cook with confidence,” she says. “It’s recipe-based but it’s really much more about the tips, which are woven throughout the episode.”
And don’t expect fabulous dinner parties or romantic nights with Jeffrey, either. “My shows have always been about entertaining and friends coming over and toodling around East Hampton, and I really wanted to shake it up a little bit,” says Garten.
Instead, she will have celebrity chefs like Mario Batali, José Andrés, April Bloomfield and Yotam Ottolenghi give their expertise on broad topics like chicken, eggs, pasta, and roasted vegetables—with each providing a surprising way to elevate or simplify the dish. For example, “Ottolenghi likes to really roast his vegetables a lot so they get brown and crusty, but then they don’t look gorgeous. So what he does is layers it with things like fresh greens that make it beautiful, and you still have all the flavor of the roasted vegetables.”
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“I stick to the classics. I found that what people like hasn’t really changed a lot,” she says. “Restaurant food is different. When you go out, you want to be entertained and surprised. But when you’re cooking at home, you want something where you can go to the grocery store, buy perfectly good ingredients, make something and have a delicious meal.”
As for whether she’ll turn this concept into a new cookbook, Garten plays it coy: “It could be, we’ll see…would people like it?”
The first episode of Cook Like a Pro airs Sunday, May 28 at 11 a.m. ET on Food Network.