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Ina Garten's biggest holiday blunder & more things you didn't know about her

Ina Garten answers questions we've been dying to ask her, like what her last meal would be, her biggest culinary inspiration, and her favorite fast-food restaurant.
by Emi Boscamp / / Source: TODAY

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Whether it's because of her comforting food, her calming presence, her infectious laugh, her adorable relationship with her husband Jeffrey, or all of the above, everyone loves Ina Garten.

So the more info we can get about her, the better. It's a wonder she's not being followed by paparazzi 24/7, honestly.

Those who consider her to be their TV mom (including myself) know her story well: Ina Garten (née Rosenberg) was born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Stamford, Connecticut, met Jeffrey when she was 15 years old, and married him when she was 20. While working in The White House as a budget analyst, she spotted an ad in The New York Times for a specialty food store in Westhampton, New York and decided to take a big leap and buy the store. Its name was The Barefoot Contessa. (How easy is that?)

The rest, as they say, is history. But our appetite for Ina knowledge — and her cooking! — is never satiated. So we sat down with the Barefoot Contessa herself to learn a little bit more about her: What's her favorite fast-food restaurant? What music does she listen to when she cooks? Is store-bought really fine?

Here are 10 things you might not know about Ina Garten. You're welcome.

1. Her last meal would be a hot dog and french fries.

"Okay, my last meal is gonna surprise you," she told TODAY Food. "It's gonna be a hot dog at Frenchie To Go in Paris. It's unbelievable.

"Maybe with french fries, since it's the last meal."

2. She listens to Taylor Swift when she cooks.

"I always listen to music when I cook," she said. "And I'm gonna surprise you, Taylor Swift, cranked up on the tunes."

3. You can probably guess her dream dinner guest.

"My dream dinner guest is ... Jeffrey." Sigh.

4. Her biggest culinary inspiration is Julia Child.

"I would have to say that Julia Child's my biggest culinary inspiration because she really taught me how to cook through her cookbooks," said Garten. "I learned how to make hollandaise sauce the right way, and then she showed me how to make it the quick way without losing any of the quality."

5. There's only one fast-food restaurant she'll go to.

"I have to say, I don't eat fast food at all, with one exception," she divulged. "When we're in California doing book tours, we always have to go to In-N-Out burger. It's so good and I know it was Julia Child's favorite too, so it's okay."

6. She loves British television.

"So I have to admit, I watch a lot of series on TV," she told us. "And I'd say my current favorite is 'The Crown,' 'Broadchurch,' a lot of British shows — I love them."

7. She got her team 'Hamilton' tickets for the holidays — and lost them.

"I wanted to take my entire team to the unbelievable Broadway show 'Hamilton' and I lost the tickets," she admitted. "That was almost a disaster. But they incredibly kindly let us in."

8. There is one dish she never attempts to make.

"There are so many dishes I love to make at home," she said. "But there are some things I just don't make at home. I order them in restaurants, like cassoulet. Things that take, like, days to make and they're so good. But they have a whole team of people to help them and it's just me."

Cassoulet

Cassoulet

Michael White

9. She's probably not going to open another 'Barefoot Contessa' storefront.

"I had a wonderful time. I had a specialty foods store for almost 20 years," said Garten. "I loved every minute of it and it was really the basis of my cookbooks now. But I think that was then and this is now. I love writing cookbooks."

10. The best fan experience she ever had involves Tony Bennett.

"So when I go on book tour, I meet lots and lots of people," she said. "But I think my favorite was meeting Tony Bennett. And his wife introduced us and he said, 'I love your meatballs.' I think I laughed for, like, 24 hours after that. Tony Bennett likes my meatballs."

... and yes, she thinks store-bought really is fine.

"You know, I think when you cook, there's so much to do. You have to shop, you have to cook, you have to clean up, you have to set the table. There's too much to do," she explained.

"If there's something that you can buy in a grocery store that you don't need to make yourself, like, say, vanilla Haagen Dazs, don't make it yourself. Go buy it. There's great bread available, artesian bread. You want really good ingredients. But if you can buy Rao's tomato sauce, why make a marinara yourself? It's really delicious."

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