The Barefoot Memoirist: Ina Garten Takes Her Story to a New Publisher

In 2019, the celebrity chef Ina Garten set off a flurry of excitement among her millions of fans: Garten, a Food Network star, best-selling cookbook author and social media sensation, was writing a memoir.

The publisher behind the book, Celadon, celebrated the acquisition of what was sure to be a best seller in a news release. “Ina Garten is beloved by all, a national treasure who has become iconic beyond the food world,” Deb Futter, now the president and publisher of Celadon Books, an imprint of Macmillan, said in the release. “Her memoir will cement her legacy in the cultural landscape.”

When Garten recently updated her Instagram bio to note the book’s October release date, the revelation once again led to online chatter and a cascade of news articles.

One crucial detail was missing: The book was no longer coming from Macmillan. Instead, it will be published by Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

There’s little information about the memoir online, and the change in publisher — which has not been publicly announced — will likely make little difference to readers and fans of Garten, whose cookbooks have more than 14 million copies in print. But for Macmillan, losing a blockbuster fall book — the season when most publishers release their big name authors — to a rival could be a blow.

It’s unusual, though not unheard-of, for a major author to change publishers after a contract is signed. Typically such breakups happen when a writer and publisher have irreconcilable creative differences, or sometimes when an author gets poached with a more enticing advance from a rival company. Authors usually return their advance to sever a contract.

In an interview, Futter said that there hadn’t been any disagreement about the direction of the book, but that Garten had a long history with Crown, which released 13 of her cookbooks through their Clarkson Potter imprint.

“Ina and I worked really well together, and I’m really proud of the work I did on the book,” Futter said. “I want it to get a great reception.”

In a statement, David Drake, the president of Crown Publishing Group, declined to comment on the memoir moving from Celadon to Crown, but said the company was “thrilled to be reunited with her for the publication of her entertaining and revealing memoir,” which he described as her “inspiring and instructive life story.”

Garten did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The market for celebrity memoirs — which have long been reliable best sellers for publishers — has gotten even more heated in recent years, with publishers offering multimillion dollar advances. Some of last year’s top-selling books were tell-alls by big names like Prince Harry and Britney Spears.

Garten, one of the food world’s biggest stars, has built a massive social media following. She has 4.3 million followers on Instagram, where she endears herself to fans with her down-to-earth demeanor, forgiving attitude toward novice home cooks (“store bought is fine!” is one of her catchphrases) and her love of indulgences like giant daytime cocktails.

She also had an unusual path to stardom. She worked for Presidents Ford and Carter as a budget analyst for nuclear policy at the Office of Management and Budget before pivoting to food and opening her store in the Hamptons, Barefoot Contessa. From there, she created a food empire, with best-selling cookbooks that she released at a steady clip, and a popular, long-running show on the Food Network.

So far, she has revealed little about the content of her memoir, but that hasn’t stopped her passionate followers from speculating that it will be dishy: “Spill the tea, Ina!” one of her fans wrote on Instagram.

Julia Moskin contributed reporting.

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