Ina Garten Reveals the Recipe That Inspired Her to Start Her Career in Food

Spoiler: It's not roast chicken!

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portrait of Ina Garten
Photo: Getty Images / Patrick McMullan

Ever since comedian, actress, fashion designer and mom Melissa McCarthy shared the news on Instagram and asked for fans to chime in with questions for THE OG IG (Ina Garten, of course), we've been counting down the days to the special's release on March 26.

"WWIGD is a sentence that runs through my head at least a hundred times a day and now I finally get to sit down and ask Ina herself, what would @inagarten do?!"

Well March 26 has finally arrived, and this morning, we were delighted to wake up to the premiere of Cocktails and Tall Tales with Ina Garten and Melissa McCarthy on Discovery .

Filmed from their residences in Australia (McCarthy) and the Hamptons (Garten), the co-hosts stream together virtually. The special begins with Garten teaching McCarthy how to make her signature Fresh Whiskey Sour cocktail—and showing off a hilarious face-sized rocks glass someone bought her after the April 2020 supersized cosmo incident—then the duo sit down to share a revealing conversation.

The wide-ranging, almost-like-we're-there-with-them chat reveals how both got their start with their careers ("This is the first time I'm saying this out loud, but I started college in fashion design," Garten laughs, "which is hilarious because I wear the same thing every day!"). They also chat about some memorable relationship moments with their husbands and how they've grown professionally over time.

Considering the Barefoot Contessa was really the beginning of Ina Garten as we know her—culinary icon, cookbook author, TV host and all—we were especially fascinated to learn about the genesis of her connection to that specialty food shop in the Hamptons.

"When you took over Barefoot Contessa, you had never done it," McCarthy says. "This is completely new, crazy territory. But does everyone assume now that you floated into this big, beautiful business?"

It was far from floating, Garten admits. She'd often spend 24 hours straight working, driving from the Hamptons store to New York City to stock up on a wide variety of goods, then come back and stock the Barefoot Contessa shelves with the raisins, grissini, cheese, smoked salmon and more that she found. So what made that lifestyle feel so appealing?

"I walked into this specialty food store that had been going for about a year and a half, and they were baking chocolate chip cookies. I thought, 'I want to be here.' I don't want to be in my office at the White House." Garten says, referring to her role at that time as a staff member of the White House's Office of Management and Budget. "I'll figure it out!"

After their husbands joined in for a double date for the final segment and the duo officially declared each other BFFs, we ran to discover this beloved, life-changing cookie recipe so we could smell it—and taste it—too! It's actually published in her 2001 book Barefoot Contessa Parties! (Buy it: $19.36, Amazon) and has garnered reviews like "I have tried so many chocolate chip/chunk recipes in my 50 years of life and this is the very BEST I have ever used" and "by far the best cookies I have ever made" on the Food Network site. Our ovens may or may not already be preheating...

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