Walked into LT Burger in the Hamptons right behind Ina Garten and Jeffrey! Have been dreaming of that moment the way others dream of meeting George Clooney. Sat catty corner to them for the entire meal agonizing over whether I had the nerve to go over and say hello and/or whether or not I would be intruding. You must understand that I’ve been watching the Barefoot Contessa for years and recently, knowing I’d be spending considerable time in the Hamptons, have been saving all of the shows that highlight local farms, fisherman, and vineyards. I want to think this is because I trust and respect her taste but I think it may be more about running into her—and now, here I am, with the opportunity to touch her. Wait, did I say that out loud? I don’t care!! I want to touch her and talk to her and ask how she can possibly convey that calm, mesmerizing tone while camera crews and lighting techs zero in on her teaching us to create Montauk Seafood Salad (I’ve made it) and Sagaponack Corn Pudding (made it) and East Hampton Clam Chowder (yep, you got it).
So I am in a trance-like state through dinner and I don’t even remember what I ate (I’m lying, it was the veggie burger, but I promise I was mostly trance-like) and then the moment of truth: they finish their dinner and their check comes. It’s like my feet are stuck to the linoleum but something internal propels me up despite those cement boots I’m wearing and I walk over and announce, “Forgive me, I thought I would be too cool to bother you, but I am such a fan, turns out I’m not cool at all, in fact, I’m hugely Uncool.” But it doesn’t matter; they smile and are so nice. I began babbling of course and I think I talked more to and about Jeffrey, which was clearly a reaction to the proximity of my food idol. I even mentioned Cook Yourself Happy and Ina wished me good luck.
Good luck? Good luck from Ina? I could live for a year off that…..but then of course I would like to up the ante and also ask her to adopt me. Too much? Fine. I will simply have to get my own Food Network Show and then we will be colleagues and I will be admitted into the secret chef meetings that change locations at the last minute so no one knows where they are except the chosen few, and then I will make up for talking too much to Jeffrey and tell Ina everything I wanted to, like how she can seem like a goddess (contessa) and the girl next door all at the same time; a trick I’d love to perfect. Like how she does things with a food processer that inspire awe, envy and adoration. And of course how she understands that food preparation is a therapeutic and zen-like experience as she employs the perfect therapists tone! Neutral, comforting, yet authoritative. And then Ina will invite me for lunch and whip up roast beef and horseradish sandwiches and we will have a picnic in her garden.
Even if this never happens (it could happen!) then at least I’ve learned that cooking up a food fantasy is another way to cook yourself happy. Thank you Ina and Jeffrey!!