The Only Ina Garten Dish Jeffrey Wasn't Impressed By

Having celebrated their 55th marriage anniversary in 2023, Ina Garten's enduring love for her husband Jeffrey is well-known. She often speaks of him fondly throughout her television appearances and books. She even wrote an entire cookbook dedicated to him, "Cooking for Jeffrey," in which she explores their relationship through the foods he most enjoys her cooking. 

However, even though she told Yale Daily News that "Jeffrey is an easy audience," she did concede that in all their years together, there was actually one dish that didn't go over too well. What could the Barefoot Contessa have possibly made that wasn't any good? The now legendary faux pas that Jeffrey had to take a hard pass on was a fish stew, which apparently didn't meet the usual standard. Mic drop.

Thankfully, it appears that no love was lost over the stew incident, as she has gone on to include an entire list of Jeffrey's favorites in her book named after him. One meal he's particularly fond of is her turkey meatloaf with parmesan smashed potatoes. Another of his all-time favorites is a dinner she's famous for, which also happens to be the dish Ina Garten considers the simplest to cook: roast chicken.

Why Jeffrey Garten hated the fish stew

As for what exactly went wrong with the fish dish, we may never know. The Gartens have kept the gory details hush-hush. Really, so many things can go awry — if fish isn't fresh, it might become overly fishy with an unpleasant flavor; overcooked fish can produce an off-putting foam (albumin); and of course, if any bones are left in ... yikes. That poses a risk nobody wants to take for a stew. Perhaps it was simply over or under-seasoning. Inquiring minds want to know, but the specifics might remain a mystery.

Thankfully, Ina Garten has since created several stand-out recipes that more than make up for any past seafood sins. Her refined version of seafood stew, featured in her cookbook "Barefoot in Paris," has received rave reviews. It includes shrimp, halibut, bass, mussels, and homemade seafood stock. Her cioppino, an Italian-American stew from San Francisco, has also been praised by fans. It features cod, shrimp, scallops, and mussels.

We do know that Jeffrey has moved past the fishy flub, as "Cooking For Jeffrey" includes several appealing fish recipes crafted especially for him. These include smoked salmon pizzas, fish and lobster cakes, and roasted salmon tacos.

More dishes the Gartens are not fond of

It's hard to believe, but the stew incident wasn't the only time Ina Garten cooked something for her husband that didn't turn out well. During her 2018 appearance on "The Chew," chef Michael Symon inquired if there had ever been a dish she cooked for Jeffrey, when they were a new couple, that he didn't like. She recalled a time she made a ground beef and corn concoction that "was just awful." Initially, Jeffrey humorously feigned enjoyment, commenting, "mmm, this is delicious," but then requested she never make it again.

As for Ina Garten's least favorite foods to eat, there are a few ingredients she'll turn her nose up at. Among her most hated foods are anything with eyeballs — the Barefoot Contessa decidedly does not want anything on her plate to be looking back at her. Fish head stew is a no. As for herbs, she absolutely despises cilantro, and you won't find much of it used in her recipes. Beverages that she's not okay with are pumpkin spice lattes, because they don't taste enough like coffee, and kombucha, because she's not a huge fan of fermented fare. Who's going to tell her that her favorite cocktail, a whiskey sour, is made from fermented grains?