Forty years ago, my family moved to East Hampton, NY. My dad took on an extra part-time job working for Ina Garten. He would drive a van into New York City and pick up breads, cheeses and other fine foods that Ina sold in her store. As kids, we took turns going with my dad in the van. We left very early in the morning. I was very young, but I remember my day revolving around really good food!
Ten years later I was working the cash register at Barefoot Contessa, looking over to the bakery, hoping that one day, Ina would let me run the cappucchino machine or get access to the perfectly placed chocolate croissants! I have a lot of memories from working there with the most amazing people. Celebrities came in all the time and I remember ringing up Steve Martin one morning and being so nervous that I would mess up! 😳
During that time, everyone in my family had worked at Barefoot Contessa at one time or another, with the exception of my mom, Barbara Libath. While Ina was working on her first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, she asked my mom, to help on the photo shoots for the book. What started out as a part-time job shopping for groceries ended up becoming a full time job involving recipe testing, accompanying Ina on book tours, answering correspondence and just about anything else that Ina needed to have done.
Several years later, my mom shared with me that people called the office regularly asking where they could find specific products that Ina used in her television shows and cookbooks such as the pepper mill, zester, “good vanilla,” plastic containers, and “good olive oil”. My mom suggested that I start a website selling these products as she didn’t always know where to send Ina’s fans to and thought it might be a great business idea. Voila! Cassandra’s Kitchen was born.
Having little knowledge of websites and design, I knew I needed a partner. Cindy and my family always spent a lot of time on Atlantic Avenue beach in Amagansett. We were both local families who grew up together. We would always sit in the same place on the beach, next to the volleyball court, as her husband and I loved to play with a great group of friends there. One day we started talking about the business idea and we decided to give it a shot.
In 2008, we launched a small website with a few sought-after Ina essentials. Today, we are thrilled to carry not just Ina Garten favorites but an extensive line of luxurious Hotel Silver, gorgeous French serving pieces, La Rochere Glassware, and many essential, everyday kitchen tools.
It has been the best journey and we’ve come a long way. I became a mom with 3 kids while Cindy had 2 and we were stay-at-home-work-from-home moms - naps were critical! We used to store cookie cutters, packing tape, serving dishes and Hotel Silver bowls in my linen closet until we moved to Pennsylvania. I dedicated a whole room in my house to the business and built a garage to store the inventory. We’ve gone from shipping orders out of my little apartment and taking product shots in Cindy’s tiny kitchen to renting a huge warehouse space and now opening our first retail store.
I am so thankful to Ina Garten for allowing my family to be apart of this journey with her and for all the opportunities it has brought to our families.