Ina Garten is a culinary powerhouse for one woman, and in the wake of Covid-19-induced social isolation, she is hosting a show that amplifies the power of human connection through food. In “Be My Guest With Ina Garten,” now streaming on Discovery Plus, she makes halibut with fried butter with Julianna Margulies and bakes cookies with Willie Geist while sharing childhood anecdotes and family memories. It’s intimate, fun and deeply personal to the longtime Food Network host of “Barfoot Contessa.”
“I’ve been making the cooking program for 20 years, and that’s my limit for the most part,” says Garten, whose next book, “Go-To Dinners,” is due out in October. “At some point, you just feel like, ‘I just need to shake this up.’ What would I love to do? What would be really fun to do? I love talking to people. I love connecting with them.”
She leaves nothing to chance when she is the host. “There are a lot of little things I do that make people feel really welcome, and the first one is music. The second thing is just to greet people,” she says.
She gives up a formal dining room and instead chooses to serve dinner in the kitchen, which feels homier. “It’s beautiful linen and candles, and I set the table in the kitchen, and it’s a small kitchen,” says Garten. “It’s not a big deal. I made it like you would cover a dining table. So it’s good silver, it’s nice porcelain that says you’re family, we eat in the kitchen as a family, but you’re special because I have made an effort to make it beautiful. ”
“One of the things that really matters is how you set the table. I like a round table, because then everyone is equally far from everyone else, ”says Garten. “And I put the two most talkative people facing each other, because if you put them next to each other, the conversation is going on over here, and everyone else is not included.”
As for who is being asked to have dinner, do not hold your breath: “The first rule is that I only invite people I love. I will never accept an invitation to anyone’s party if I do not want to invite them back. ”
Here’s what Garten serves to hold a winning dinner party.
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Instead of an overwhelming flower arrangement, Garten likes to have a variety of flowers placed in vases of different shapes and sizes. She suggests moving them around until you are happy with how the buds look (and make you feel).
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When it’s time for the main course, Garten does not make the plate himself, but lets his guests help themselves. “I make plates and I do it on the kitchen table. I just think records are good because people can take as much or as little as they want. If something is vegetarian, they can just take the vegetarian stuff and not the meat, ”she says. She uses white dishes because they let the food be the star.
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You will not see any torn paper towels or uneven paper napkins when the Garden hosts. “I like real napkins. And I like the napkins that you don’t have to iron. So I get these linen napkins that you put in the washing machine and you put them in the dryer for five minutes and then just fold them. , “She says. The same goes for tablecloths, which she prefers to doilies.
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Garten jokes that she would be the first in line to buy a fried onion scented candle if one were to ever enter the market. But until then: “I do not use so much scented candles in the house, I just use white candles. Just simple, nothing fragrant, because I do not want it to compete with the food, ”says Garten.
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Like most of us, Garten gets things started with finger food. ”I have a really nice board that I like to put cheese and grapes and cashews and stuff like that on the board, maybe canned figs and let everyone help themselves, which I think is nice, ”says Garten, who chooses a circular plate because it is more inviting and encourages people to interact. “I like having a round board.”
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The garden’s favorite silverware, the brand she uses on a daily basis, is called Chambly. It’s understated and simple but hard to find. This one, made of stainless steel, is a solid dupe. “It’s just plain cutlery,” she says.
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If, like Garten, you want your culinary creation to make a statement, keep your plates as simple as possible. “I definitely like white. The plate is really about what makes the food look best, and I like it set on a white background. I never like plates that have patterns on them,” she says. .
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Sure, you can revel in crunchy thin wine glasses that will most likely break after a few times. Garten chooses a more user-friendly approach. “I usually use stemless wine glasses from Riedel,” she says. “I think they are very simple and they are really beautiful. And I always put a big glass and a small glass on the table, and if I serve white wine, then I serve the white wine in the small glass and the water in the big one. And if I serve red wine, I just turn it around. So it’s pretty much the same glass all the time. ”
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After Garten mixes margaritas, she serves them using a simple, classic glass jug like this one. It is slim and holds 90 ounces of cocktail.