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On November 19, Ina Garten—aka the Barefoot Contessa, Food Network star, and prolific cookbook author—will take the stage at the Paramount Theatre to promote her ninth book, Make It Ahead (Clarkson Potter, October 2014). 5280 has the honor of hosting Garten at the Paramount that evening, and we caught up with her in advance to talk about the process behind her new cookbook and why Denver made the tour docket.
5280: You have 10 stops on your book tour—why did you choose Denver?
Ina Garten: We always try and pick where there’s a real fan base. I have fond memories of Denver. We used to live in Colorado Springs, and we would come to Denver for fun. I haven’t been there since the 1970s.
It’s such a relief to know you approve of premaking dishes. It’s almost like, “If Ina makes it ahead, it’s OK if I do it.”
When we had the food store [the Barefoot Contessa in East Hampton], we made a lot ahead. Dishes had to taste good two days later. [When considering a book], I thought: I know how to do this. There’s always something you can do ahead. You can cut the potatoes and put them in water for days. You can cut the butternut squash and store it in plastic baggies. Every recipe has a tip. It was interesting for me to do the book that way. I’m already working on my next book, and every single recipe has a tip.
This book just came out and you’re already working on another?
It’s a cycle—it’s what I do. I finish one and say, “Alright, let’s do another.”
With nine books now under your belt, how has your process changed?
I’ve gotten more interested in how a recipe works. I hired a home cook as an assistant. I work out the recipe until I’m happy with it, and then I watch her make the recipe from the printed page. I learn from what she does differently—she might stir the caramel with a spoon instead of swirling it in the pan. I write in the things that I intuitively did. For one recipe, she confused cloves with garlic cloves, so I wrote “dried cloves”—something I would never think to do. But it’s easy to confuse the two.
Do you ever duplicate recipes?
There are no crossovers. A lot of cookbooks have 250 recipes, but I don’t think anyone can cook 250 recipes—most people have a repertoire of eight to 10. I do 80 to 90 recipes; I think they should be curated and edited.
Do you ever miss running the store?
I did it for 18 years, and I loved it. When I sold it, a friend was selling her interior design business at the same time, and we would say, in our new life: No employees; do something we love doing; make money (because you have to); and do something that would allow us to drop everything and go to Paris on a moment’s notice. We used to laugh hysterically and say, “That job doesn’t exist.” Well, that’s what I do: I work with three people who are friends, I love what I do, we do just fine, and I’m in charge of my time. I don’t miss the shop, but it was a great foundation. I never went to culinary school; I learned everything there. And I saw what people want to eat.
Ina Garten, 7:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place, 303-623-0106, altitudetickets.com