Ina Garten Reveals What's 'Really Impressive' To Her at Dinner Parties

Ina Garten knows how to throw a dinner party. The celebrity chef often has friends over to her Hamptons home on Barefoot Contessa, her long-running Food Network series. Whether it’s for a festive holiday feast or a simple weekend dinner, Garten makes entertaining look easy.

Given her status as a successful TV personality, cookbook author, and celebrity chef, Garten’s often the one doing the hosting. But there are times when she attends dinner parties as a guest. When she does, there’s one thing that impresses her and it has nothing to do with the food. 

Ina Garten’s approach to entertaining is to keep it simple

Any fan of Barefoot Contessa knows Garten’s not one to offer her guests a 12-course meal. Instead, she opts for a simple, unfussy menu of a few appetizers, a main course, sides, and dessert. 

Her casual approach to cooking and entertaining has become her staple. Sure, she might use some expensive, high-quality ingredients such as her beloved “good olive oil” but no matter what she does, whether it’s the food or the flower arrangements, it’s never too complicated.  

The Barefoot Contessa’s impressed when the host doesn’t have a ‘meltdown’ over food

Throwing a dinner party isn’t easy. Sure, Garten offers tips to making entertaining easier on Barefoot Contessa and in her cookbooks but it takes practice to get to her level. 

Discussing her book, Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, with Food and Wine, Garten dished on what she finds impressive as a guest at a dinner party. For her, she doesn’t mind if the food isn’t elaborate she just appreciates the gesture.

“I think anyone who cooks for a living loves having other people cook for them. I don’t care if it’s hot dogs and baked beans out of a can,” she said. 

What impresses her most when she’s not the one throwing the dinner party is if the host is enjoying themselves. 

“But I think the most important thing at a dinner party is that the host is having fun,” Garten said. “If they are wise enough to make a meal that can do without having a meltdown, I think that’s really impressive.”

So if Garten ever comes over for dinner, forget about impressing her with the menu and focus on having a good time.

Ina Garten brings a sweet treat to dinner parties

Garten doesn’t show up emptyhanded to a dinner party. She doesn’t bring one of her famous roast chickens but rather a sweet treat as a gift for the host. 

As previously mentioned, Garten shared her go-to party treat for the holidays in a 2019 Instagram post. She likes to bring her French Chocolate Bark. 

“It’s sweet, salty, crunchy and chewy – all at the same time – and so easy to make,” she said. “Who wouldn’t be delighted to get that for Christmas??”

For more on the celebrity chef, check out Garten’s most popular recipes on Food Network and find out who she’d invite to a Barefoot Contessa dinner party.

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