Ina Garten Wants to Buy ‘Contessa’ Frozen-Food Business

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Ina Garten Photo: Patrick McMullan

The last time Ina Garten dabbled in a packaged-food line, her Outrageous Brownie Mix sold in Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table for $9. Now of the opinion that "everyone has a right to eat good food," the Barefoot Contessa wants to buy Contessa Premium Foods, a frozen-food maker that sells to America's more run-of-the-mill Walmarts and Safeways. The company confirms the two are in talks.

The backstory here is a tricky one: For about a year now, Garten and Contessa have partnered on a popular line of frozen meals, but only after litigation over the use of the word contessa. (The really confusing part: Contessa Premium Foods was founded in 1984; Garten first used "contessa" in conjunction with her 1999 cookbook, but that was because she had taken over a shop on Newtown Lane in East Hampton with the name, which she had originally appropriated from a 1954 film of the same name some time in the 1970s.)

In any event, things probably could've gotten nasty, but instead the two hammered out a partnership all nicelike, and the world got her five-cheese penne for two. The celebrity chef tells the Times that a Barefoot takeover would be "the best thing for the brand," though she also mentions she has "no information" about the company's finances. Maybe that should be the first order of business?

Chef Seeks to Buy Contessa Food Business [NYT]