The Cookbooks Ina Garten Reads For Inspiration

Anyone who has tuned into "Barefoot Contessa" has witnessed the apparent ease with which Ina Garten prepares simple yet comforting and delicious dishes that nearly anyone would be proud to recreate and serve in their own home. So, it may come as a surprise that Garten wasn't always quite so adept in the kitchen — in fact, she wasn't even allowed to cook when she was growing up. It wasn't until Garten married that she really started to dive into cooking. When she did, there were a few cookbooks she turned to for inspiration.

According to her website, Garten is drawn to a mix of both classic and more modern selections. One book listed is "The New York Times Cookbook" by Craig Claiborne. Considering Claiborne eventually came to be known by some as the father of the American food revolution — and has also been credited by Jacques Pépin as being hugely influential — turning to his tome of recipes was clearly a solid choice. Garten also lists another legendary collection of recipes, Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

Of course, Garten has authored numerous cookbooks of her own, but one author whose books Garten also particularly likes to turn to is Sarah Leah Chase, a friend who shares Garten's background as a specialty food store owner. Chase's book, "Cold Weather Cooking," also made the list.

Sarah Leah Chase and Ina Garten have similar approaches to cooking

The relationship between Sarah Leah Chase and Ina Garten began in the 1980s. While Garten was running her food shop, The Barefoot Contessa, in the Hamptons, Chase had a similar style store in Nantucket called Que Sera Sarah. The pair bonded over these similarities, and discussed trends related to food.

It's easy to see why Garten would turn to Chase's work for inspiration — it appears that their approach to food is similar. In the foreword to Chase's 2015 book, "New England Open-House Cooking," Garten writes: "I've adored Sarah Chase's cookbooks for decades! This is exactly what you want to cook at home — delicious, satisfying, earthy food your friends and family will love."

Garten is known for easily taking simple ingredients to the next level, and Chase's recipes, while elevated, are often equally uncomplicated. And, like Garten, Chase also focuses on using accessible ingredients when crafting her recipes.

Other cookbooks Ina Garten adores

While Ina Garten has over a dozen books she lists as her favorites, one near the top is "The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook" by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. This book also happens to be the first cookbook to which Sarah Leah Chase contributed. Published in 1982, Rosso and Lukins' popular book focused on simplified techniques and incorporated numerous types of cuisines. It eventually ended up on the New York Times Best Seller List, and was praised by Barbara Kafka for transforming American cooking.

Other cookbooks that celebrate simple cooking styles, which Garten keeps on her shelves, include the French-influenced "Bistro Cooking" by Patricia Wells, "Roasting" by Barbara Kafka, "A Platter of Figs" by David Tanis, and "The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook" by Anna Pump who, like Garten, owned a food shop in East Hampton. While many of the cookbooks Garten loves have an element of French flair, when it comes to Italian, one of her favorites is "Italian Country Cooking" by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, an ode to fresh and simple cuisine inspired by the authors' travels to Italy.

And just like a quality meal, no cookbook collection would be complete without a book about beverages, and for that, Garten turns to Brian Van Flandern's "Vintage Cocktails." The book features numerous classic cocktails that are made, of course, simply.