Monday, November 10, 2008

I have a Woman-Crush on Ina.

Years ago, while still in high school, my family and I spent a week in East Hampton for my cousin's wedding. My mother and I focused in on finding WASPy, chic outfits so we could fit in with the crowd that didn't fit in with us. I found a cream cocktail dress covered in sky blue toile. We had dinner at Nick & Tonys, walked up an down Main Street, and gazed at the people who made East Hampton their full time home. Snake skin stilettos coupled with premier designer handbags dotted the streets while the sun glared down to expose the dolled up ladies and their caked cheekbones.
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.



7 comments:

ChefBliss.com said...

HOW FUN!!! I have that same Woman-Crush and I am thrilled that you got to meet her. Thanks for sharing!!

Nancy said...

Now THAT would be very BIG for me...I absolutely adore everything about Ina...Her entire life including her artist entertainment and cooking/writing skills, her past career in the White House...and mostly I love her marriage with Jeffrey...He is gone all week....comes home on the weekend , and after all of these years, she is still visibly "giddy", as he is with her! Is that great or what? During the week her acomplished Gay Guy Friends come over for entertainment, cards, dinner parties, heck what more could a girl want? I want to go there....

Doris said...

I too share your "woman-crush" on Ina. How great that you had the chance to meet her!

Jen said...

Lucky! I adore her as well. She's so at ease in the kitchen, I'm mesmerized watching her cook during each episode. I met Tyler Florence at a signing a few years back - I was hand-shaking nervous to chat with him :-)

Cate said...

wow. you lucky lady! the contessa (daydreamy silly look)!

Nate-n-Annie said...

Ina Garten is cool. And you're right. So humble compared to MS.

Thanks for adding us as a friend on Foodbuzz. We welcome you to come visit our site!

Cadie said...

I just know you're going to have a great store. When you do open it (and you will), you should list on http://www.gatheringguide.com/ec/wedding_cakes_bakeries.html and then everyone will be able to find you.