Why Doing Nothing for a Year Was the Best Career Decision Food Network Star Ina Garten Ever Made

TIME 100 Gala - New York
Dennis Van Tine/Abaca USA
By Jenna Goudreau

Type A people think they can figure out what they want do next while they're doing something now. But they can't. It's impossible.

> Find a food job
> Find a writing job

That's the advice that Ina Garten, 67, the best-selling cookbook author and host of Emmy Award-winning Food Network show "Barefoot Contessa," got when she was at a standstill in her career.

After spending 20 years building a specialty food store in Westhampton Beach, New York, she suddenly felt unfulfilled. "I worked very hard to build that business," Garten told interviewer Moira Forbes at the Forbes Women's Summit in New York on Wednesday. "Then when I was 50, it wasn't stimulating to me anymore."She decided to heed her friend's advice and take a step back to figure out what she wanted to do next.

"I spent a year doing nothing," Garten said. "It was the hardest year of my life."

Finally, bored out of her mind, she thought "maybe I'll write a cookbook while I'm figuring out what to do."

Even though she wrote it thinking no one would buy it, Garten said she still put everything she had into it. She hired her own publicist and photographer to execute her vision. "It was a crazy investment for a cookbook," she said.

But it worked. The book, "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook" published in 1999, was an instant success and almost immediately needed to be reprinted. It was also the catalyst for what would be a line of a cookbooks and her cooking television show.

"Getting good and bored was important," Garten said. "I thought my professional career was over, but it hadn't even started."

> Find a restaurant job
> Find a television job
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