Author and Food Network star Ina Garten says in a new...

Author and Food Network star Ina Garten says in a new interview that her upbringing contributed to her decision not to have children. "It was nothing I wanted to recreate." Credit: AP / Evan Agostini

East Hampton cookbook author and Food Network personality Ina Garten, who followed up her long-running "Barefoot Contessa" series with the current celebrity cooking show “Be My Guest,” says her difficult childhood largely accounts for her and her husband’s decision to not become parents. 

While saying “it's much harder” to pursue one’s dream if one has children, Garten told the U.K. television series “Influential with Katty Kay” that, “I don't think that's why I made the decision. I'm actually writing a memoir now and I'm kind of looking back at my childhood. It was nothing I wanted to recreate. And I’m always looking forward to look back and realized a lot of my decisions were based on my childhood. And so I think that was really the motivating factor.”

She previously has described how her mother did not allow her in the kitchen, telling Al Roker in his “Cooking Up a Storm” podcast in 2021 that, “My mother just wanted me in my room and she wanted the kitchen to herself and she said, ‘It’s your job to study. It’s my job to cook and just get out of the kitchen,’ ” adding that, “What I was craving as a child was connecting with people, and I felt that if you feed them they always show up….”

Her culinary success, she told the BBC, was “probably” a rebellion against her mother’s strictures, noting with a chuckle, “I’m 75 years old and I'm still saying you can't tell me what to do.”

A White House staffer before buying the Barefoot Contessa gourmet-food store in Westhampton Beach in 1978, Garten moved the shop to East Hampton in 1985 and sold it to two employees in 1996. The first of her bestselling cookbooks was published in 1999, and in 2002, “Barefoot Contessa” began its long Food Network run. The shop, on Newtown Lane, closed in 2003, and last year an intersecting stretch of Barns Lane was renamed Ina Garten Way.

Reflecting on her and husband Jeffrey Garten's decision to forgo having children, she told the BBC that, “Everybody wants to know ‘Where am I going to end up?’ Forget where you're going to end up. You don't know where you're going to end up. … Somebody described it to me once that if you're in a stream and you keep knocking against the riverbanks, then you're in the wrong stream. What you want to do is be in a stream where the stream carries you along. And so I think I'm always trying to find where that stream is where it's going to carry me along.”

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