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Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten was unaware of request, but will now host her young fan

Garten The Barefoot Contessa is no Heartless Contessa, and has been "devastated" by criticism leveled against her.

It was only this weekend that Food Network star Ina Garten, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, learned that a young boy named Enzo had a long-standing request to meet her through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, according to a spokesman. Garten gets about 100 requests per month, and wasn't aware that the request had been made or rejected. Touched by the young fan's desire to meet her, Garten is calling Enzo today to speak with him and invite him to join her at the Food Network studios, according to a statement released on Garten's behalf.

The statement also underscored the demands that are placed on public figures such as Garten, and the difficult choices that must be made:

"She contributes both personally and financially on a regular basis to numerous causes, including to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Sadly, it’s of course not possible to do them all. Throughout her life, Ina has contributed generously to all kinds of important efforts and she will continue to do so."

Garten was completely blindsided by the media firestorm this weekend over her reported refusals to meet with the young boy suffering from cancer. The boy would watch Garten from his sick bed, and twice requested a meeting with her through Make-A-Wish. The second time the request was made, Garten's representatives -- unbeknown to her -- gave the family a "definite no." Disappointed, the boy's family wrote about the rejection on its blog. From there, it was picked up by TMZ and exploded online, with criticism raining down on Garten's head. (We wrote about the controversy here.)

A source close to Garten said that the Barefoot Contessa believes charity and public works are part of duty as a public figure and that she works extensively for a variety of causes, including  battered women,  cancer patients, AIDS awareness and animal rights. "She was personally devastated" by all the criticism, the source said.

Even the little boy's family came to Garten's defense, with a blog post entitled: "Please Stop the Madness," which said the story was being blown out of proportion. The family said it did not hold any ill will toward Garten when Garten's representatives repeatedly told them that the Barefoot Contessa was unavailable to meet with little Enzo. While disappointed, they said they understood that, sometimes, things do not work out:

"I had written about our disappointment when we originally found out, but asked everyone in the spirit of Enzo to please just 'let it go' and move forward... I want to make it VERY CLEAR we have NO ANGER OR ILL WILL toward Ina Garten... Enzo found great comfort in watching her cook when he was going through his toughest times and for that we are so grateful."

No doubt, the family will be happy to get that phone call from Garten.

What do you think about this latest turn of events?

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo courtesy Ina Garten representatives

Comments () | Archives (117)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Boycott TMZ! I know there was a reason I never watched that silly show!

I used to work as an editor at Garten's publishing house, and I can say this (and unequivocally): she's a lovely woman, and always took the time to meet with many people who, for whatever reason, felt a connection to her.

The bigger issues is one of branding and the celebrity disconnect that often accompanies fame. Garten has a reputation as a very kind, sensitive, reasonably "normal" person, and she always has. But she's become a brand over the years, and brand = business, and where there's business, there are almost always layers of incompetence. So at what point should the actions of clearly media-incompetent representation blow back onto celebrity brand? The media dimwits who were responsible for saying "no" to this unfortunate child's request should have strapped on their intelligence/PR cap and, whether or not they wanted to act the hero and "protect" their employer, should have presented the situation to her. Instead, they used the little, pathetic "power" they deemed their right, and it backfired all over their boss, who, I sincerely hope, has relieved them of their position.

The rat in all of this is TMZ. Sure TMZ has the right and business a interest in this but the it creates victims galore and then dances off to the next story. Care to rate Harvey Levin's ethics?

This is so typical of our society today. You hear something and run with it, without finding out the facts. Someone in her position, I'm sure, does not hear every request. That's what her well paid staff does for her. It looks like the staff blew this one NOT Ina.

Having worked with a lot of "celebs" over the years, I learned that they're are a lot of misconceptions about them. They get blamed when they shouldn't be, and not blamed when they should. An awful lot of criticism goes their way for things they can't control. In this instance it looks like all a big mistake.

I've always wondered why it seems so heavily incumbent on celebrities of a charitable bent that a child's request should take precedence over anyone else's request. I'm glad that Enzo's parents are ashamed of this whole firestorm they set off.

It's nice that LAT has decided to finally do its job, but unfortunately it comes after Lynch's first blog post was allowed to fester all weekend with dubious comment moderation. Any person with an axe to grind whether on topic or not was allowed through and showcased the absolute worst of internet culture.

Defaming a celebrity at the behest of a disgruntled parent, whose disclosure I'm sure violates an agreement between the organization and the families, demonstrates a lack of critical thinking skills, which shouldn't be encouraged and condoned. All of these so-called fair weather "fans" claiming they will NEVER watch Garten's show or purchase her products are nothing but a bunch of liars and pot stirrers who as evident by their inability to spell her name - it's INA not IDA or IRA - probably were never fans, thus hardly a great loss.

As for MAW, what a shady organization using tabloid media to shakedown celebs who don't submit to their demands. What a horrible organization who should be investigated and perhaps have their non profit designation revoked.

And hopefully, the IRS is investigating the mother and her paypal shakedown of sympathetic saps who have been moved to donate funds to the family.

The public media can be a really vicious jury. We don't know the circumstances that this request was raised. It's easy to judge someone on missing a request when someone gets literally over 1000 a month. Shame on the media using guerilla warfare tactics on the celebrities like this. What will people be forced into doing next?

chill out LA! Let's not put the cart before the horse...What was the reason to
blog in the first place.? For others to read, obviously , and to sympathize with the family, not make a national issue.... Caregivers have a heavy burden and want to do absolutely everything they can for their charge . Now your words have hit back at the family The young boy was chosen to receive a Make a Wish...if not by Ina, some other chef or special person would step to the stove.

Perhaps a celebrity grouping should be formed, each taking a turn to honor a wish.....everything would then almost be dandy- missing one ingredient, tho,
the cure for cancer.

From a branding perspective, this was a train wreck that really eroded a business (a $10 box of brownie is a bit much, anyway, isn't it?) It's PR 101 to make sure you get notified of any press with your client's name in it via google alert, and it's imperative to contain the damage quickly. It took a long time to issue a response that pales in comparison to the perception of indifference, and there's nothing fabulous about that.

At the end of the day a kid who has been through an awful lot gets to swim with dolphins. Maybe a positive takeaway is that all of us can help sick children (and all patients) by donating blood, or better yet, platelets.

I do not understand where my comment went to someone deleted it I have as much right as anyone else to comment on this subject as anyone here there are alot of people upset about this and I have only expressed my feelings on this heart breaking incident all I will say is this should have never happened the people who work for her should be told this is your job to let me know these things my goodness they were contacted twice I beleive she was told and just passed it by and now that so much fire has come under her she got scared of her career and acted on it well i personally think I would feel the same towards her my comment better not be deleted.....

Way to go LAT for reporting one side of a story and then attempting to clean it up once you bothered to get the other side. Posting a story on The Daily Dish does not mean you get to cheat your obligation to be as objective and comprehensive as possible.

No matter how busy Ina is she should have made an effort all on her own to meet this young person. After all, is his last wish to meet her. How rude of her. I thought she was nicer than that.

I'm shocked at the depth of hateful, misogynistic comments that were leveled at Ina Garten when TMZ (whatever that is) released their hate mongering story, presumably drawn from the blog of Enzo's mother.

Hey, Ina Garten is human. I'm glad she'll meet with the boy regardless of what anyone says.

I don't think anything TMZ reports can be relied on anyhow.

For all of you defending the Contessa: As of 7:00 PM PST, she has not phoned the young boy today, as promised. I think that action speaks for itself.

This ugly episode has turned me off to Make-A-Wish. IMO, they should handle requests the way the bone marrow registry does it: no potential recipient is told of a bone marrow match unless the potential donor agrees to the match first. By maintaining a shield, no potential recipient can cajole, harass, extort or in any way coerce a potential donor into giving a "gift" they don't want to give. Forced "charity" by guilt-tripping/bullying a potential donor is offensive; and violates the very meaning and spirit of charity. It is awful how Garten's reputation has been besmirched by this fake controversy; but that charity organization may take a bigger hit in the end. Personally, I'd never give them a dime.
Not long ago, some celebrities who helped publicize bone marrow testing drives were later attacked by the potential recipients' families for not maintaining a personal relationship with the families after the sick child died. Seems that some of these families want to use a child's illness to become buddies with a star; rather than being grateful for the attention the star brought to their cause. Misplaced priorities, a sense of entitlement and hubris make a nasty concoction; and with people like Garten being hit by the blowback , it won't help in luring prominent people to help with supposed good causes in the future.

My husband is not a celebrity (except in my eyes). He manages a department store, and he gets on average 1 request per day for a charitable donation, mostly for goods. He gives as much as his budget will allow, but there is a limit. It would be horrible if he or the store were villified on the internet because he wasn't able to fulfill a specific request. What has happened to Ina shouldn't happen to anyone. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it can also be horribly destructive. I feel bad for her as well as for little Enzo and his family.

@Tom - you weren't privy and are just engaged in badly spelled, grammatically incorrect conjecture. Please don't pretend to know more than anyone else does, because you don't. You're just some dude on the internet trying to be a big shot.

I don't care who didn't tell whom what; Ina is not obligated to spend her time with anyone. A mother pitching a hissy fit on the internet with her hideous comic sans website doesn't change that. ina will be vindicated and this mom and this shady organization will see their own fortunes fall. Ina is still going to be a hit with her snotty crowd who don't invite you to their tea parties and they don't care if you think they have too much money.

She should pick better and more empathetic representation.

I guess this is how a charity shakedown works. Celebrities are prevailed upon to indulge the wishes of someone else and then outed as miserable curmudgeons if they don't comply. I was shocked at some of the nasty comments made about Ina. I am much more disappointed about the attempts to shame her publicly. No charity worthy of my supprt would ever resort to such sleazy tactics.

So this middle aged chef on the food network gets 100 requests a month??? Really? Thats at least 3 a day. Seriously doubt it. Apparently her and her staff and the reality of her celebrity status are too busy to meet

The more money or fame a person has, the more people ask of them. People come out of the woodwork making demands on their time and money. I empathize with the young boy who wanted to meet Ina, but I also have no doubt that his request could be amongst thousands of others she has received.

Celebs are human beings, just like the rest of us. They have the right to make choices about how they spend their time, just like the rest of us. It is not our place to judge them. We certainly have no idea what other responsibilities she has in her life. Let he who is perfect cast the first stone.

@Chris Devon...how inane a comment and just plain DUMB. I worked with MAW for events we were holding and they NEVER critique or put down any one much less a celebrity. I am a marketing PR pro with a major motion picture company so I know the "lay of the land" on Marketing/PR issues. Ina Gartens crew FUC*ked up big time and so did she. Her star is not that BIG that she would not know what is happening in her camp. Justin Bieber, at 16 yrs old, and with a wild schedule managed to do 35 of these events in the last two years.
She now only responds because her non-response is tanking her career. How do you or your crew "flick off" a 6 yr old kid who HAS honored YOU BY MAKING YOU THE CENTER OF HIS LAST REQUEST?
Her crew should be fired and she needs to prioritize what is important. If a dying 6 yr old kid is not as important to you as your celebrity, then you have a moral and ethical serious problem.

What makes Enzo more special than the other 99 people a month who want to see Ida as well? I'm sure out of the other 99 requests she gets, there are others who are more sick, probably terminally so. Why should Enzo get her time and not the others? Because his mom is a cyber bully?

And if Ina gets 100 requests a month, that means she needs to see at least three people a day. When is the woman supposed to work, or better yet, live her own life? People, you don't own her. She doesn't have to WANT to do anything. Being sick does not give you the right to anyone's time.

And now thanks to all the self righteously angry people out there, other celebrities are going to think twice before they get involved with MAW.

Congratulations, hope you're all proud of yourselves.

I have to say, when I heard of this I was really shocked that Ina would be so rude and stuck up because she seemed so sweet on her shows. Who knows if she is responding this way because of the public response but if she was aware of this response to the child she should be ashamed of herself and try to be more humble to less famous people and understand that she has a following more complex then gay men or frumpy women. I hope she is truly upset by this action and fires whomever responded to this child and has him on her show. I love Ina but it seems unless you are gay or rich you don't get on her shows. I only hope everyone is wrong about Ina and she is as sweet and genuine as she seems no matter how much money she has. I watch every show she has as she is one of my favorites on Food Network and was considering stopping when I initially heard of this story.

I like Ina and think this sort of criticism of her is outrageous. If I were a celebrity, I would have nothing to do with Make a Wish. They guilt celebrities into these appearances, destroy reputations. If people stop watching her over this, it would just be stupid. Make a Wish my ass.

It's never to late to do the right thing..regardless if she knew or not. I 'm glad this boy is getting this dream and hope he beats this cancer..and a great support system means EVERYTHING!! Ina said she wasn't aware and unless it can be proved otherwise I guess I'll assume it's true. It's also good people were rattled and upset, it proves we are a nation who cares for the terminally ill ..even if it's not our family member. We sometimes can appear to be a nation of me and mine..and I'll do whats best for me regardless of how it effects someone else. thank God we still can feel although sometimes may express ourselves somewhat vulgarly..a sick terminal child gets emotions running high.Ina follow through..restore this boys faith in his fellows and recover yourself.We'll be watching ..waiting! God Bless Enzo..Godspeed!!

I can't comprehend this anger towards the mother of a young child who is so sick - attempting to do something that would make him happy is very far from exploitation. Further, the Make a Wish Foundation is a very prominent organization, and only selects a certain number of "wishes" to be be granted - I find it extremely unlikely that Ms. Garten was not made aware of *their* (not the mother's, but the foundation's) request and would imagine it's extraordinarily rare to have such a request declined (twice!). These were not run-of-the-mill requests from fans. If she's attempting to save her public image by complying belatedly, fine - I hope it makes the child happy. The mother had every right to mention it in her blog, however, and attempting to defend Ms. Garten's behavior by attacking hers is absurd.

I can't even keep up with all of my two email accounts from work and personal email as well as texts so how could a star who hires people be responsible for this...when a big deal was made of it...even after she was bludgeoned by all, she is making it right. Mean people...give it up or better yet use your negative energy to send a big check to Make A Wish foundation instead of posting here.

I watch Ina Garten everyday, she has the best show on the Food Network. I never believed she was heartless in the first place, anyone who watches her show would see the loving person she is!

Just super disappointed in the Barefoot Contessa. Can forgive her, but will not soon forget. There are millions of worthwhile charities vying for her time, no doubt. But you never turn down a Make a Wish kid. I have three friends who've had terminally ill children. There is nothing worse in the world than seeing your kid suffer. Any slight, perceived or real, further injures.

These "celebrities" think they are holier then thou. They think they are better then anyone else. Sure, she doesnt "HAVE" to visit this kid, but she should "WANT" too. She would be NOWHERE without her fans, she should run for governor with her "I DIDNT KNOW" bull$*** lies.

And if, in fact, this is 10000% not her fault and it is 10000% her "peoples" fault, she should fire their asses because because of this stunt, im am no longer a fan and REFUSE to watch her.

Social services should be investigating that mom. She has real problems.

Seems to me there is some spin control going on. I find it hard to believe that for 2 to 3 years this child and the Make-A-Wish people were trying to get a hold of her for this wish. If she has been a part of the MAW foundation in the past by giving how did this will all of her money and teams of employees seem to slip past her? I find it pretty unbelievable.

The mother needs to take a good long hard look at herself and ask herself what message she's sending to her child. Hopefully he knows better than to act as childish and as entitled as she did.

She's not doing him any favors by pitching a fit and trying to turn everyone against his favorite celebrity - and people aren't doing him any favors by referring to him as 'the kid that's dying of cancer' when he is expected to make a full recovery.

What a horrible role model of a mother.

I wish the mother would stop exploiting the child.

ffs she is a celebrity. She gets dozens of letters a month asking for favours of a similar nature and probably personally sees 10% of her mail if that. She complies with some but the woman has to sleep and she is not bound to accommodate every request made on behalf of an ill or abused person. She's human.

"unbekown" and "appauling" are not words in the English language.

The perfectly childish anger thrown at Ina Garten in comments after your previous post was sociopathic. Those calling Ms. Garten every hideous name should make an appointment for their psychotherapists' couches. That you claim victory by means of these sociopaths is pathetic.

I'm so glad that there are people in this world who are reasonable enough to realize that most celebrities don't personally see all of the requests for charity that are sent to them. They have, as someone else said, "people" who handle these things. I believe Ina when she says that she only found out about Enzo this weekend. I think it's horrible that she has received a public lynching by people who never bothered to wait for her side of the story. It's sad that a career and reputation that have taken decades to build can be torn down in a matter of days. I wish Ina well, and I wish Enzo well. May they both live long and prosper.

Please, those of you who are accusing the mom of being a hater.....please don't be haters yourself. Try to imagine the agony of watching your child suffer and being powerless to help. So, of course you would try to do anything in your power to bring joy to your child's life. Second, of course Ms. Garten has the right to say no to any and all requests. Just as I have the right to not watch her show or support her business endeavors. Oh, and by the way.....yes I do a lot to try to ease the suffering of others on a daily basis.

I like Ina but this is a bit appauling. First the little boy should get his wish. Second, I would fire the fool that works for her who denied this request. Can you imagine the positive publicity she could have gotten for doing an episode where she cooks with a cancer kid instead of making pasta for one of her super gay or stuck up girl friends?

Love Ina Garten! Reporters should get there facts straight before they try to destroy one's reputation. Go Ina!!!!

BOYCOTT! Call Food Network at 865-560-3663 and let your voice be heard. I hope they pull her off the air. What a worthless human being.


If there's a lesson to be learned it's that when you aren't able to get what you want pitch a fit and get paid for your troubles by TMZ. I really hope the parents are investigated for the paypal scheme. Nothing on the site talks about what the money is for.

It makes my stomach turn when the media rushes to judgment. Sure it's a human propensity to judge & to condemn those seemingly making a conscious, cruel act. But when you don't have all the facts, it's best to wait it out until all the evidence comes through. Otherwise premature condemnation & character assassination backfires & makes the attackers look like the one with the weak morals & cruel streaks.

It is impossible for any celebrity to personally oversee these thousands of requests - that is why they have a staff that sometimes is overwhelmed by the requests received. I'm sure if the staffers would have informed her of the request made through the Make A Wish Foundation, it would have been handled differently. I'm happy it has worked out for the little boy.

First of all, the child is not dying.

Secondly, the MAW strongly encouraged Enzo to fulfill another wish instead, which he did.

Thirdly, Ina is under no obligation to meet with this child. None. His age makes no difference in the fact that if Ina doesn't want to see him, for whatever reason, SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO.

Fourth, the child's mother's actions were wrong and tasteless. She is nothing more than a cyber bully. She called for the boycotting of Ina, and made references to Ina book burnings. What kind of person does this? No sympathy for her and her emotionally manipulative blog posts. None.

Lastly, now Ina is meeting with this child, thus showing Enzo'z mother that if she pitches enough of a fit and acts entitled enough, she will get what she wants.

There are no winners here.

Okay, at what point is she allowed to say no to a request? You people are sure judgmental and foolish. Have you helped a sick cancer patient today? probably not. I know I haven't, but then i'm not demanding someone do that which I'm not willing or able to do myself. hypocrites.

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