Green Room

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

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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Well I am having a hard time believing that a three year old little boy wanted to go on a cooking show, and that was his number one wish. It sounds like this has more to do with the mother than it does with the young boy and she is the one posting this stuff on her blog. The mother isn’t entitled to everything she wants and Ina Garten’s time is her own.

sharrukin on March 27, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Ah, liberal shaming into compliance. And from a conservative blogger!

This is why we’ll never survive in the end. Deep down there’s a control freak in everyone’s heart.

The Lone Platypus on March 27, 2011 at 4:55 PM

So, has the Home Depot stopped funding Planned Parenthood?

I don’t know why Garten didn’t want to do the MAW request and it is her right, regardless. I also question a 6 year old having this as his greatest wish. Odd… But I am offended at her support of PP which is enough to get me to boycott her show, which is a shame; she has some excellent recipes. Still, I won’t really miss the show. It had become more and more annoying over the last few seasons, not that I watch that often…

pannw on March 27, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Pannw,
I don’t watch that often either–just don’t have the time. Kids’ interests vary–my daughter watches the Food Network all the time–always has. She has become quite the chef! As for the mention of Planned Parenthood, it’s not that HD is a sponsor, but the time it took Garten to host the PP event. The fact that it was PP adds insult to injury. She had time for them, but not for this little boy, which I find cruel in itself. I agree with you, BC did seem to be getting a bit annoying for some reason. Thanks for commenting and enjoy the remainder of your day.~SA

SusanAnne Hiller on March 27, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Sounds like emotional blackmail to me. It’s nice that you and others give generously but I think this story stinks.The GreenRoom really is getting desperate these days.

lexhamfox on March 27, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Sounds like emotional blackmail to me.

Yep.
I’ve never heard of Garten before reading this story. While reading it I was thinking “Garten is under no obligation to do this. Who the hell does this writer think she is?”
This attitude is a major problem in this country. It’s a corollary to the liberal attitude of “If I don’t like it you can’t do it.” It shows a mentality that “If I think it’s a worthy cause you must do it.”
We’re drowning in a sea of authoritarianism.

single stack on March 27, 2011 at 5:54 PM

It’s a corollary to the liberal attitude of “If I don’t like it you can’t do it.” It shows a mentality that “If I think it’s a worthy cause you must do it.”

Yes, indeed. You got that message. I did not explicitly mention that Garten is a registered Democrat and that the Dems have tendency to cry “It’s for the children!” See WI unions and Malkin highlights the human kiddie shield ad nauseum. And what do you think the MSM would do if this were Sarah Palin or anyone else on the right? I guess I’m just much more compassionate and my conscience would keep me awake until I made it right. But, that’s just me. I know what it is like to see a child suffer and schlep the halls of a PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) checking on one child and going to her twin for days on end. I couldn’t even imagine this situation. So, it isn’t so much who the hell am I, it’s how could someone be so incredibly insensitive.

SusanAnne Hiller on March 27, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Well I am having a hard time believing that a three year old little boy wanted to go on a cooking show, and that was his number one wish. It sounds like this has more to do with the mother than it does with the young boy and she is the one posting this stuff on her blog. The mother isn’t entitled to everything she wants and Ina Garten’s time is her own.

sharrukin on March 27, 2011 at 4:53 PM

I find the whole story odd as well. Kids have different interests, but for a 3-6 year old to want to meet…Ina Garten for MAW? Forgive me for my skepticism. I’ll wait until Garten responds.

So, it isn’t so much who the hell am I, it’s how could someone be so incredibly insensitive.

SusanAnne Hiller on March 27, 2011 at 7:01 PM

And do you have access to Garten’s daily planner? It’s odd for so many, including yourself, to jump to a conclusion based on one article. How about waiting until Garten responds and hear her side of the story before you decide (judge?) whether she has truly been insensitive? Seems the prudent and fair thing to do.

conservative pilgrim on March 27, 2011 at 8:26 PM

How about waiting until Garten responds and hear her side of the story before you decide (judge?) whether she has truly been insensitive? Seems the prudent and fair thing to do.

conservative pilgrim on March 27, 2011 at 8:26 PM

If Garten’s the type of liberal that can make time for Planned Parenthood fundraisers, buck up and make an educated guess. I’m getting a little sick of all the conservative benefit-of-the-doubt bullcrap.

gryphon202 on March 27, 2011 at 9:46 PM

In my post I quote (in the blockquote) what MAW and Garten’s rep said. They are not denying anything, just saying that she is too busy. Maybe Garten’s rep could have put together a package and included a signed book–something, anything. I haven’t seen anything that they have done to try to make this right.

I will repeat the quoted text here:

In response to the controversy, Make-A-Wish stressed to TMZ that 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.”

And @gryphon…thank you…that is my other point. Here’s to a good rest of the night.~SA

SusanAnne Hiller on March 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM

SusanAnne Hiller on March 27, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Shame on you.

lexhamfox on March 27, 2011 at 11:39 PM

SusanAnne Hiller on March 27, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Shame on you.

lexhamfox on March 27, 2011 at 11:39 PM

Care to elaborate? Or were you just in the mood to verbally slap someone?

SagebrushPuppet on March 28, 2011 at 7:59 AM

I read this story several days ago & it was interesting to see the comments regarding her. She has a legion of faithful followers who are on the rampage about the mother of the child involved.
I actually don’t think it’s weird at all for a kid to like a show like that.
Sure the mother might have influenced the kid in liking the show.
So?
And maybe the mom’s going a little off the deep end on this, but she’s probably just a little worn out from her kid’s illness. Probably just focusing on something a little too much right now on this.
Whatever the case, I think that when you live your life in the limelight, it is your duty to be charitable when you can. And I think that when the public vilifies someone for not participating in something like this, it is a consequence.
Ina is free to ignore the $hitstorm from this. But is it deserved?
Well I think so. It’s unfortunate she hasn’t said a word about this bcs if the truth were different, she could clear it up right away.
And I understand she is a free citizen, but so what?
When someone is uncharitable & a celebrity, the public has every right to weigh in on their behavior.

Badger40 on March 28, 2011 at 8:24 AM

That’s the Power. Of The Home Depot.

/ THD plumbing associate, store 6557.

Sefton on March 28, 2011 at 9:26 AM

If Garten’s the type of liberal that can make time for Planned Parenthood fundraisers, buck up and make an educated guess. I’m getting a little sick of all the conservative benefit-of-the-doubt bullcrap.

gryphon202 on March 27, 2011 at 9:46 PM

I’ve read plenty of your quotes bemoaning this same treatment of a certain politician (of whom I support), but now it’s a Democrat and suddenly you’re “sick of all the ….. bullcrap” and giving the benefit of the doubt? Oookay.

SusanAnne Hiller on March 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Yes Susan, I read the same article. Obviously, our perspectives and definitions of “busy” differ. When Garten’s rep says she’s too busy, I frankly do not know what that means in her world. So, I will give her the benefit of the doubt. My life is busy, but I won’t use my schedule as a model to compare, and neither should others.

Btw–Does anyone know how many MAM requests Garten receives? How about from other charitable organizations? How much does she give to charity? Who decides the hierarchy of charitable organizations anyway?

Another issue that should be addressed…in a liberal’s mind, serving a fundraiser for PP is charity and giving their time. They wholly believe in women’s reproductive “rights.” (I disagree.) Shocking, but conservative and liberal ideologies are different. You can disagree with her, but judging her as “insensitive” says something about the accuser.

Based on comments at the original article and this blog post, it seems the only acceptable response for Garten is a thousand apologies, have the child on her show, and entertain every charitable request she receives.

Charity is no longer charity when one is forced to give.

conservative pilgrim on March 28, 2011 at 9:26 AM

I am troubled by the implication that Garten has behaved badly by turning down this request. We all have limited time and money and there are essentially unlimited demands for time and money by good organizations and causes. We all make decisions as to how we want to allocate that time and money – and as a result “turn down” good charities and causes. Further, many believe such giving and work should be done quietly/anonymously and so you should never assume you know what another person has given.

This article should never have been written.

Over50 on March 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM

I am troubled by the implication that Garten has behaved badly by turning down this request. We all have limited time and money and there are essentially unlimited demands for time and money by good organizations and causes. We all make decisions as to how we want to allocate that time and money – and as a result “turn down” good charities and causes. Further, many believe such giving and work should be done quietly/anonymously and so you should never assume you know what another person has given.

This article should never have been written.

Over50 on March 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM

One more time, genius:

Garten behaved badly by making time for a Planned Parenthood fundraiser and then turning around and saying she didn’t have time for something she could have done inside of half-a-freakin hour!

Charity is no longer charity when one is forced to give.

conservative pilgrim on March 28, 2011 at 9:26 AM

I’m not aware that calling Garten out for the insensitive shrew that she is, is “forcing” her to do anything, but whatever floats your boat.

The pussification of America continues apace.

gryphon202 on March 28, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Charity is no longer charity when one is forced to give.

conservative pilgrim on March 28, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Agreed. That is why I didn’t write that particular solution.

Additionally, this article compares/contrasts the charity by non-celebrity Home Depot managers/employees as opposed to a celebrity like Garten.

As for other celebrities, I have had the opportunity to work with many and even strolled down the red carpet once a couple of years ago. And I’m talking very popular bands, supermodels, actors, and actresses. They were very gracious.

Additionally, I’ve seen cast members make time during shooting scenes to put together “care” packages for people–recently.

There appears to be no sensitivity and feeling in any of the responses to MAW(why I say insensitive)–only the No!

Now, her reps could have handled it better as well–Garten had nothing to say about that.

I find the comments here interesting, but I think that celebrities should be held to higher standards as they are in the public eye and for the most part will help if you reach out to them–especially MAW. Again, she could have done something.

SusanAnne Hiller on March 28, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Last time I checked, we’re still a country of free citizens who have the right to choose with who and when we associate. MAW is a nice group of well meaning people who generally do a decent job for a good reason…. that being said, some individuals acting on behalf of MAW have been known to be ugly to businesses or individuals who just cannot accommodate them for either personal, financial or liability reasons. Volunteering and charity is only worthwhile when it’s done with a glad heart, not the public blackmail which is becoming so common these days.

For whatever reason, Garten politely declined the request and that should have been the end of it. Her personal time is her own and the public does not command it. At the end of the day, MAW is the one who will suffer behind the scenes. Throwing a public tantrum when you don’t get what you want leaves a charity in a bad light. Celebs and businesses will be less likely to partner with them if they can expect a public lashing if things don’t work out or doesn’t meet the “over the top” expectations of the recipient and their family.

2nd Ammendment Mother on March 28, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Last time I checked, we’re still a country of free citizens who have the right to choose with who and when we associate.

2nd Ammendment Mother on March 28, 2011 at 10:07 AM

And last time I checked, calling someone “insensitive” isn’t forcing them to do anything…

Good grief.

gryphon202 on March 28, 2011 at 10:12 AM

@gryphon202 – sorry, explain to me again why you should get to choose how someone else chooses to spend their time and money? Because clearly that’s what you are trying to do by claiming Garten behaved badly. Why else does anyone make such statements other than to influence behavior?

Everything just takes another half hour, another ten dollars – but we are each time and cash limited. To act as if it is no great imposition to demand another half hour or ten dollars from someone is to ignore that reality.

(By the way, your somewhat crude and offensive manner suggests a lack of education and will not win anyone over to your favored charities – and yes, I am trying to influence your behavior.)

Over50 on March 28, 2011 at 11:51 AM

SusanAnne Hiller on March 28, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Again, you’re assuming much based on limited information. Your anecdotal evidence furthers your perception of Garten’s supposed stinginess. Besides, all your examples exemplify willing, unforced giving, albeit a bit contrived and glory stricken.

It is interesting that Garten is being vilified for simply saying “no.”

I am troubled by the implication that Garten has behaved badly by turning down this request. We all have limited time and money and there are essentially unlimited demands for time and money by good organizations and causes. We all make decisions as to how we want to allocate that time and money – and as a result “turn down” good charities and causes. Further, many believe such giving and work should be done quietly/anonymously and so you should never assume you know what another person has given.
…..
Over50 on March 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM

Well said.

conservative pilgrim on March 28, 2011 at 11:51 AM

(This is) what charity looks like…

Hmmm… What does this remind me of? Oh yeah…

This is what Democracy looks like!

Fallon on March 28, 2011 at 11:52 AM

If we were really liberals here, we’d be saying that Ina Garten should face a fine or jail term for failure to follow the law we think should be passed.

The death of shame, which I believe is on full display here, is a problem for conservatives and should be a problem for all right-thinking individuals. The lack of shame over Garten’s actions (viz-a-vis her PP fundraiser attendance) says more about her defenders than it says about her detractors.

gryphon202 on March 28, 2011 at 12:25 PM

I don’t like seeing anyone bullied by the politically correct crowd. Period.

Again, where have I heard this?

Oh yeah.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

Fallon on March 28, 2011 at 1:12 PM

I don’t like seeing anyone bullied by the politically correct crowd. Period.

Again, where have I heard this?

Oh yeah.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

Fallon on March 28, 2011 at 1:12 PM

You lose me when you compare me to a leftist.

gryphon202 on March 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Happy Ending ?

gh on March 28, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Well, you’d better take out a full page ad telling me off for who I haven’t donated my time or money to in the last 10 years.

2nd Ammendment Mother on March 28, 2011 at 2:04 PM

I think those people who say “You have no idea the demands on her time.” are on the right track.

Back in the day, my mother was a huge Charles Barkley fan. (Yeah, I know go figure.) She was in her last year of life struggling with lung cancer and she and dad went to Phoenix to visit my brother for the last time. In an effort to make her visit memorable he got tickets to a Suns game for her. She was thrilled. He had asked if Charles could come and visit one of his most ardent fans who would be in the stands for the game. The spokesperson said no because he got too many requests for that and he just couldn’t do it. But he got mom’s seat number and during half-time a kid came and delivered a Suns t-shirt to her. She was thrilled.
It meant a lot to her and we almost had her buried in that shirt.

The thing is, that kid had a whole bag of shirt bundles and my brother asked him why.

It turns out that each and every game there were as many as two dozen requests for personal meetings from avid fans for various reasons. No wonder he couldn’t meet with them all. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is true of many celebrities.

We had no idea.

Lily on March 28, 2011 at 3:03 PM

sorry, explain to me again why you should get to choose how someone else chooses to spend their time and money?

My daughter’s high school had a graduation requirement that they each do and document x hours of “community service”. The kids were given a defined list of acceptable organizations and [liberal] causes that would meet the requirement.

She submitted her records of hundreds of hours of community service to other groups and organizations of her choosing over her 4 years in high school as a member of National Charity League. They were summarily disregarded by the school administration.

I used to rail against employers deciding what an acceptable level of giving was for United Way (your Fair Share as they called it). Of course it was just a suggestion, except executives had to explain any shortfall in their level of charity and there was a box on the review form that HR ticked off if you meet the “suggested” level. Your outside contributions to organizations that you chose didn’t count.

My family and I give plenty of time and money to charities and causes we have an interest in, but for decades we have had busybodies and our “superiors” try to decide for us what does and doesn’t count as worthy causes. A pox upon their houses.

in_awe on March 28, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Bah. She doesn’t need to explain or justify her decision to anyone. Maybe she is very busy. Maybe she felt the request was made in bad faith. Maybe she has a chronic contagious illness that would be dangerous to a little boy with a compromised immune system, but which she would rather not discuss with the entire world. Maybe she’s just very upset by dying children.

It frankly doesn’t matter. The parents have no idea what’s going on, and it’s none of their business to know. They made a request, and the other party declined. Full stop. Neither they nor Make-A-Wish should have made any public comment whatsoever.

GalosGann on March 28, 2011 at 4:37 PM

So when do we start calling her “Ina Garten Da Diva”?

sirnapsalot on March 28, 2011 at 4:46 PM