Food maven Ina Garten admitted that a crowded supermarket isn’t exactly her comfort zone.
“I don’t leave home often; you might say I’m one step less than an agoraphobic,” said Garten, 65, star of the Food Network program “Barefoot Contessa,” in which she cooks from her East Hampton kitchen.
Regardless, Garten’s ability to connect with people via television resulted in nearly 200 people standing in line — some snaking around the left side wall of the Plainview ShopRite — for a chance to meet Garten Friday. The first 100 people in line received a free copy of Garten’s latest cookbook, “Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof.”
“I arranged my schedule so that I could be here today,” said Shira Zatcoff, 34, of Woodbury, as she waited in line to meet Garten.
The book signing coincided with Garten’s release of nine frozen sauté dinners, which debuted in supermarkets in the spring.
“Every single day of every single week everybody wants to know what’s for dinner,” Garten said. “So I thought it would be great to answer that problem for people.”
Yvonne Johnson, 56, of Amityville, was unable to get in line to meet Garten, but managed to get Garten’s attention long enough to snap a quick photograph of the chef on her cellphone.
“I actually forgot that Ina was going to be here... I’m so glad to see her. I think she’s a wonderful person, very gentle, very kind and I love the relationship between her and her husband,” Johnson said of the chef and husband Jeffrey Garten, who is frequently featured on the show.
Part of Garten’s appeal, she thinks, is her self-described “simplistic and refined” style.
“In my books I do things like take a classic beef bourguignon, which usually cooks for four hours, and I make it in two hours. But then, if you have a hard time following the recipe, you can always follow me as I make it on television,” said Garten. “So people who are visual, rather than word oriented, can have the information relayed to them.”
Garten’s style has won the heart of Hicksville’s Pat Rotella, who was snapping pictures of Garten just to the left of where the line began at Garten’s table.
“Ina is my favorite cook on TV,” said Rotella. “I watch the show, read the cookbooks and I’ve even made her bread pudding.”