While Ina Garten will always be the star of her popular Barefoot Contessa television series, her new recipe book, Cooking for Jeffrey, brings her husband into the spotlight. In the latest issue of People magazine, Jeffrey talks about his unexpected fame, and shares what it's like to be meet his wife's fans.
"I'm surprised when people recognize me, because my role on the show is very, very minor," he says. "It appears to people that I'm on the show much longer, because she's always talking about me, my coming home, and cooking for me."
And while Ina has fully embraced her celebrity, going on tour in addition to her television specials, Jeffrey is less comfortable being recognized in public.
"There are times when I'm at the airport and I'm sitting having a meal or a snack alone and I look up and suddenly I'm surrounded by people," he says. "They want me to sign their napkin, anything. I'm always very embarrassed."
Ina even goes so far as to joke that Jeffrey is more popular than she is. "I always worry that one day he's going to get sick of people walking up to him on the street and saying, 'I love your wife,'" she says.
It's interesting, considering that she is the one who once turned down her own television show.
"In the beginning, I just thought 'I'm not that person,'" said Garten, according to People. "Why would anyone want to watch me on TV? I couldn't understand what I could do that was different; that was unique."
Fortunately for fans of the Barefoot Contessa, they were relentless. "They kept saying, 'No, you'd be really great,' and I'm like 'Lose my phone number,'" she said. "And of course, here we are, 15 years later. I'm still with the same production company and still on Food Network. Despite myself."
Garten's latest cookbook is available now. The dedication reads simple, "For Jeffrey who makes everything possible."
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.