Ina Garten Says Her Mother Didn't Let Her Cook Growing Up: 'She Wanted the Kitchen to Herself'

The cookbook author opened up about not being allowed in the kitchen as a child and how that sparked her interest in the career

Ina Garten
Ina Garten. Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage

Ina Garten may be a beloved cook now, but her skills didn't start at a young age.

The cookbook author, 73, appeared on an episode of Al Roker's new podcast, Cooking Up a Storm, where she revealed that despite her profession, she wasn't allowed to be in the kitchen or cook while growing up.

"I don't know, I think my mother just wanted me in my room and she wanted the kitchen to herself," the Barefoot Contessa star said of her late mom, Florence. "She said, 'It's your job to study, it's my job to cook. Get out of the kitchen.' So I kind of always wanted to do it."

"I got married when I was 20 and I think that's when I started to think, 'I love cooking,' " she continued, noting that she taught herself how to cook by reading Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and practicing every night. "At some point, I thought, 'I want to do this for my work and not just for fun.'"

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Garten — who married her husband Jeffrey in 1968 — explained to Roker that her love for food and cooking has always been rooted in her desire to connect with people.

"I think what I was craving as a child was connecting with people and I felt that if you feed them, they always show up and you have a good time together," she explained on the show. "That was the connection I loved so, I kept doing it over and over again."

Back in 2017, Garten joked that her career was "the ultimate rebellion" against her mother.

The Food Network star explained during an episode of Katie Couric's podcast Next Question, that along with banning Garten from cooking, her mother, who was a dietician, would even restrict foods from her diet.

"My mother was obsessive about food," Garten said at the time. "So we weren't allowed any carbs, we weren't allowed any butter. We had margarine. And her idea of a great dessert was an apple."

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Garten is currently working on a memoir about her life, which she announced is in the works in 2019 and set to be released in 2023.

"By finding a way to do what I love for a living – cooking – I've been fortunate to build a career that has not only been incredibly rewarding but has brought people together through the power of home cooking," she said in a press release at the time. "I hope my book will inspire readers to find their own unique story."

All seven episodes of Roker's podcast Cooking Up a Storm are available now. Each one features a different chef who walks listeners through their favorite Thanksgiving recipe.

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