Ina Rosenberg was only 20 when she married Jeffrey Garten, and as a new bride, was happy spending her days at home, cooking for the love of her life. But Jeffrey says that the day he came home and found her watching a sitcom at 11 in the morning, he suggested a change. “I just said to her, ‘You have to do something. You won’t be happy if you don’t.'”
Now Ina jokes that Jeffrey was the first feminist, and it’s true that since then, he’s supported her, whether she was whipping up gourmet meals on a camp stove in Europe, working as a nuclear policy analyst for President Jimmy Carter, or buying the first plank in the Barefoot Contessa empire; the small specialty food shop she opened in Westhampton Beach, New York in 1978.
Twenty years later, when she put her own money into the inaugural run of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Jeffrey was there, and nearly twenty years after that, he’s still there, cheering her on at every turn.
But Jeffrey downplays the inspirational role he plays in Ina’s life and stardom. “It was such a natural thing for her to do,” he told People magazine. “I certainly supported her, but it was really all her. I was so proud of her. Not everybody finds something that they’re so passionate about, but she clearly had.”
For her part, Ina has accepted that Jeffrey’s work has often taken him far away. In the 80s he was relocated to Tokyo, where Ina carefully arranged his living space to look exactly like their apartment in New York, so Jeffrey would feel at home, even when she was far away. And although many couples break under the strains of a long distance relationship, it hasn’t seemed to affect Ina and Jeffrey. “No matter where he is, I always know that there’s nothing more important than me in his life,” Ina told People. “We give each other enormous freedom to do what we want to do, but we’re still the anchor.”
It doesn’t hurt that Jeffrey “seems to like everything I make,” writes Ina in the introduction to her latest cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey. “And that’s exactly why I love to cook!”
After nearly 50 years of marriage, these still-smitten lovebirds hardly need proof that theirs is a special kind of romance, but we still think it’s deliciously romantic that the couple have inspired a line of Valentine’s Day cards, cementing their status as a couple for the ages. So if you’re looking for a sweet nothing to whisper to your beloved foodie this year, you can’t wrong with the words on the card: You’re the Jeffrey to my Ina.