While walking down Newtown Lane I passed two white rimmed screen doors when scents of freshly baked breads and hints of chocolate. I turned and as I walked through the doors, I was overwhelmed at the site before me. The inside of the Barefoot Contessa store was nothing I had never seen before; a high end specialty foods store years before its time. Prepared food, held in crisp white rectangular dishes layered the refrigerated cases, while international and domestic cheese danced and dipped across a butcher's block in one of the corners. My nose quivered and twitched with the pungency of Stilton as I swooped closer to taker a deeper breath in.
I filed the sights and smells in the back of my mind, not knowing when they would reappear in my life. My mind was engraved with that majestic experience and slowly developed into the culinary dream that I'm now living today.
Twelve years later, I lined up outside a Williams-Sonoma store at 8:30 in the morning to wait for a chance to meet Ina, the woman behind that store that made such an impression on me. I sat with my latte and chatted up conversations with the women around me. The appearance drew 1200 fans and I was thankful for my earlier arrival.
"Do you cook?" she asked, as she reached for the first of the four books I wanted her to sign.
"I do," I said. "I have my own catering company."
"Oh, so you're a real cook?" she responded.
"I guess I am."
Ina and her seemingly effortless success at elegant and earthy dishes is only part of my admiration for her and her empire. Unlike Martha Stewart who arguably carries a high level of arrogance, I feel like Ina could be our next store neighbor. (My husband would put our home on the market instantly, as her dotting on her husband drives him insane). Her ability to connect with her fans on a soothing and almost motherly way is hypnotizing.
She has become an inspiration to me, helping me visualize the path to the small storefront that I hope to open one day. I am comfortable and confident with my woman crush, therefore and hope it will continue to encourage me to reach my professional goals.