Update: “Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten should take notes from The Home Depot; Garten will cook with Enzo
posted at 3:58 pm on March 27, 2011 by SusanAnne Hiller
This story actually shocked me on so many levels:
“Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten has a new nickname — “Heartless Contessa” — in the wake of news that she repeatedly refused to meet with a 6-year-old boy named Enzo who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
According to the reports:
The boy, who would watch Garten from his sick bed, told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that he wanted to meet the Food Network celebrity. When told that her schedule was too busy, Enzo opted to wait. When the request was made once more, Garten’s representatives replied with a “definite no,” according to the online blog that the family kept about the boy’s illness.
Now, I have been a fan of Garten’s for a while now; I like the way her show is produced and frankly, her recipes are good (minus all the butter). I can understand that her schedule is demanding; however, I also know that celebrities will go out of their way for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. So who dropped the ball on Garten’s part? And an even better question is: why hasn’t she publicly denounced or fired the person(s).
Additionally, as the article states, Garten’s rep and Make-A-Wish noted:
In response to the controversy, Make-A-Wish stressed to TMZthat Garten is a “good friend” of the foundation. A representative for Garten told the site: “Despite her demanding schedule, [Ina] participates and helps as many organizations as she can throughout the year, helping children and adults like Enzo with life threatening and compromising illnesses. … Unfortunately, as much as she would like to, it’s absolutely impossible for her to grant every request she receives.”
However, the Make-A-Wish website (link above) doesn’t include Garten in the list. Addtionally, the Look to the Stars website documents very well celebrities an their affiliated charities. Garten doesn’t even come up in the search. Searches Garten does come up in–which she donates her valuable time–include, hosting a political fund-raiser and the 16th Annual Hudson Peconic benefit for Planned Parenthood.
Futhermore, you are probably asking why I mention The Home Depot. I’ll tell you. I reached out to them this week and not only did the entire local store management team coordinate an effort for me, they offered to provide all of the design services, supplies, and labor–for FREE. An entire team. No charge. Above and beyond what I originally asked. Garten should take note as to what charity looks like and follow the lead of The Home Depot team.
So, brava, Ina. As The Home Depot staff recognizes, sometimes it really is for the sake of the children and bringing a simple smile to someone suffering. Couldn’t you have just made some homemade mac-n-cheese with little Enzo and saved yourself the public’s scorn?
Update: ABC is reporting that Garten will cook with Enzo after all:
The “Barefoot Contessa” has time to star in her Food Network show, pen cookbooks, and cook at charity luncheons for her well-to-do fans. But apparently, her schedule was too packed to meet a 6-year-old boy stricken with leukemia who requested a cooking session with her through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She turned him down, twice.
Now, after multiple blogs and news outlets criticized her decision, Garten is inviting Enzo Pereda to the set of “The Barefoot Contessa.”
“Ina became aware of Enzo’s story this weekend and will be calling him today,” a spokesperson for Garten said in a statement to ABCNews.com. “She looks forward to inviting him to spend some time with her at the Food Network studios.”
I was hoping that would be the outcome. I can only hope that Garten holds her reps accountable for how they handled this. I also understand she is busy and her time is her own–I get it. While there were some feverish comments, which I always expect (and love about HA readers), for the record, I never suggested a boycott of her show, her books, or her sponsors. I like her show and recipes and, frankly, I think the Ina-Enzo episode (if produced) would/will have record ratings for her.
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