Make a Wish kid’s dad tells Barefoot Contessa he’d rather swim with the dolphins

Late last week, we heard that Barefoot Contessa celebrity cook Ina Garten had refused a request from a six year-old cancer patient in Oregon to come and cook with him. Little Enzo suffers from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and reached to to Garten’s people through the Make a Wish foundation. He often watches “Barefoot Contessa” in bed with his mom and had his heart set on meeting Garten. He was persistent and asked two years in a row after she begged off last year due to a book tour. When Garten refused the second time, Enzo was said to be “heartbroken” and asking “why doesn’t she want to meet me?”

Other celebrity chefs then stepped up and volunteered to cook for Enzo, including Beau MacMillan and “Iron Chef” Michael Symon. MacMillan said he’d fly the family to Arizona and treat them to dinner at his restaurant and a comped stay at a fancy resort. Symon volunteered to come over to Enzo’s house.

Then of course, after all that bad publicity, Garten finally said she’d fulfill the wish of that terminally ill little kid and acted like this was the first time she’d heard of it. Even if she has a team of people fielding offers for her I find that hard to believe. She said she’d bring the boy to the Food Network studios and would be calling him. That story came out on Monday and Garten is said to have called the family with the offer Monday night.

Enzo, though, had already moved on to his backup wish, swimming with the dolphins, and is learning how to swim. His dad told TMZ that Garten did call them after she promised to, but that he turned her down because he doesn’t “want to put my son through all these emotions. We’re better off just leaving everything the way it is.”

I don’t blame Enzo’s dad for not telling his son that Garten finally stepped up to the plate after their family went through all that. I have a six year old and they can get very upset when things don’t go as expected. Once they’ve moved on and are focused on something else it’s better not to remind them about it. Besides, it will surely be much more fulfilling for Enzo to swim with some dolphins than to get to cook with a snobby woman who can’t be bothered to make time for anyone or anything other than promotional opportunities.


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74 Responses to “Make a Wish kid’s dad tells Barefoot Contessa he’d rather swim with the dolphins”

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  1. wunderkindt says:

    Little Enzo can swim with the dolphins and Ina can go jump!

  2. BB says:

    Wow what a b*tch.
    No matter how famous or how busy you are, you can’t clear your schedule for 1 SINGLE DAY in 2 years to make time to cook for this little boy? I’d cancel anything in a heartbeat.

    What good is it to have all the book tours for publicity in the world when you are such a jerk to your fans…?

  3. brin says:

    Ha ha…..Ina just got served by a cool six year old!

  4. Judy says:

    Wise decision on the dad’s part. Too little, too late, Ina, and very disingenuous at this point. Nice try though.

  5. manda says:

    I know, what a b!7@4. She messed up big time.

  6. Rita says:

    This was a PR disaster for Ina from the get go. The Make a Wish Foundation would have done all the prep work so alls Ina would have had to do was share 15 minutes of cooking time with the boy and reap a bounty of good PR.

    Bravo to the family for moving on.

  7. Sloane Wyatt says:

    oh, sh*t! Preach it, wunderkindt.

  8. Quest says:

    It was really insensitive. I have a six year old and when he is disappointed it breaks your heart as a parent to see them like that.

    I love Michael Symon even more and kudos to Enzo.

    I would rather swim with warm blooded, intelligent mammals that Ina as well

  9. Hakura says:

    Most importantly, I’m so glad the little boy got to do something he really wanted to do. Dolphins are just amazing, so I know it will be unforgettable.

    I can’t believe what a selfish bitch she is.. turning him down not once, but twice. She just couldn’t be bothered with anything she didn’t get paid for.

  10. Macey says:

    That kid is soo freakin cute Id cook for him in a minute and I HATE to cook!

  11. Embee says:

    the ironic thing is that she would have gotten so much more from the encounter than him. giving of your time is one of the most satisfying things you can do, and for someone who is undoubtedly overscheduled and stressed as Ms. Garten, the opportunity to give would have been a real salve to her. now she is experiencing more stress due to her poor priorities. karma’s a bitch.

  12. Jayna says:

    I was so turned off by this. Not really the first request, because maybe her schedule was booked. But when they came back a second time and she blew them off, what a heartless biotch. I mean, it was so sweet that of all the wishes he could have, he only wanted to cook with her. I can’t stand her now. You don’t diss a severely ill child, ever.

  13. Leek says:

    I couldn’t watch her show after reading this. She’s a total pig.

  14. JQ says:

    What a selfish woman! How could you not make time for something like cooking for a terminally ill child? I would cook for that little boy in a heartbeat!

  15. Gigohead says:

    Seems to me, he got the better deal. Dolphins are great!

  16. malachais says:

    I hope Enzo’s dad let her have it. She was really inconsiderate of his feelings, and I agree that all she would have had to do is show up, MAW would have made all of the necessary accomodations.

    I’m sure he will have alot more fun playing with dolphins than some grumpy arrogant b!tch.

  17. guesty says:

    Good for Enzo’s dad.

  18. lin234 says:

    How awkward would it be for the kid and his parents if they were to actually meet Ina? Essentially, everyone there would know Ina is meeting them because of PR problems and not because she wants to do it. Plus after a two year build up, there could only be disappointment whether it’s her as a person or her food even. The dad made the right decision to go with dolphins. Much less disappointing than some people.

  19. coexxi says:

    And in my opinion it is still not ok to make such a thing public. It is everyones right to chose to which charity one gives. It is not about “only an hour” or so… it is the principle of the pressure I don’t like.

    I’m sure there are thousends of requests that can not be granted. That is why there is the possiblity for an alternative wish. And if someone is so near to death to wait for 3 years… please! This whole story stinks.

    Ina Garten my be “snobbish” or, as others claim, “warm” whatever… (I don’t know her show or her personally) but in my opinion such a witch hunt is doing nobody any favours. If I was a celebrity I wouldn’t want to be connected to the Foundation after that.

  20. gee says:

    Coexxi, so you’re saying just because he’s not literally on death’s door its ok? He’s dying at 6, cut the kid some slack. Ina Garten is cold blooded.

  21. The_Porscha says:

    Well, Garten’s missteps are Enzo’s bounty, then. He gets to swim with the dolphins and get two 5-star meals from other celebrity chefs. Good for him and his family! Hope they enjoy it all.

  22. KateR says:


    I believe that it was the mother who published this on her blog, not the Make a Wish Foundation.

  23. lucy2 says:

    Good for the dad, right decision.
    If she TRULY didn’t know about him, which sorry but I don’t believe, then she needs to fire whoever blew this off repeatedly, because it’s hurting her PR big time.
    But I don’t believe her, think she only did this because everyone was calling her out for being horrible.

  24. tango says:

    I guess I don’t see how Ina’s schedule could be so busy she couldn’t make a few days to travel and cook with the young man. Fail. Even if Ina had staff review those type requests, why would any staffer automatically turn down (without Inas knowledge) a 6 year old for a second time if the request came from Make a Wish? Really now, how many kids want to cook with Ina Garten? She’s not exactly their target audience. Maybe she just doesn’t like kids – it’s not like she has any or we see any on her show. To reject the childs request two years in a row makes me think Ina had to have some say in it. Or she gives her staff way too much authority to decide for her.

    If I was a famous person I would make sure all requests by sick or dying people, that came through legitimate organizations like Make a Wish were reviewed and handled by me personally.

  25. Marjalane says:

    Oh this is all such bullshit. No one actually KNOWS how this went down and if Ina Garten did actually know about the request. I think it was pathetic that this mother made it all so public and then totally backed down when it started getting ugly. I don’t believe a three year old, (which was how old he was at the first request) was hellbent on meeting Ina Garten in the first place. Even though this family is suffering a terrible experience with the child’s illness, it doesn’t make this mother a nice person. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think there are MANY celebrities out there that don’t “have the time for an ill child”, they just don’t get outed by every media outlet available. I’ve never even watched this woman’s show, but I think she got screwed by all this.

  26. devilgirl says:


  27. Johnny Depp's Girl says:

    What a DISGUSTING person. I will never even glance at anything having to do with that woman again.

    That poor child. I would have cooked for him, had him to the studio and created a new dish in his name….

  28. jc126 says:

    #19 coexxi, you are a voice of reason and sanity! I still say we don’t have the full story and I don’t like this whole spectacle, either, nor do I automatically take as gospel the word of a parent of a sick kid.

  29. Dana M says:

    I’ve already thrown out all her books! Giada has much better recipes anyway!

    I am so proud of the father for denying her. Damage has been done, 2x…they have moved on. Ina is a heartless woman, BS she was not aware of his request.

    Sending out best wishes and much love to little Enzo and his family. XO

  30. OriginalGracie says:

    @Johnny Depp’s Girl: “I would have cooked for him, had him to the studio and created a new dish in his name…”

    Wow, what a truly thoughtful and wonderful idea that is! He would have been just overjoyed. How cool to have something delicious with your name on it!

    I don’t think it’s beyond imagining at all that a little boy would want to cook with a lady he watched on tv. My son was just like that as a boy and latched onto all sorts of diverse people he saw on television.

    The mind of a child is a mysterious and wonderous thing.

  31. DGO says:

    First of all, the kid’s not dying. He’s in remission and the disease has a 90+ per cent cure rate. Second of all, Ina said she never heard about the request until the mother went to press with it, and I’m convinced the request was really to fulfil Mommy’s dreams of meeting a television chef, and not little Enzo’s. In fact, if the mother’s blog is to be believed, he doesn’t want to swim with dolphins either. I can’t stand parents who don’t back off and let their children have some autonomy. He’s been through some rough treatment and ought to be able to pick his own kid-friendly, age-appropriate wish.

  32. Dana M says:

    And if you make the decision to be a public figure….issues will become public. That’s just a consequence you bear from wanting to become a celebrity.

  33. garvels says:

    Who is this vile beotch? Like she has people lining up to cook with her in her stuffy studio when there are all of those gorgeous hunky hot chefs like Rocco to wet one’s appetite.

  34. granos says:

    Coexxi I cosign your comment.
    It’s horrible that the child is sick, but he had a back up wish to swim with dolphins. And many other celeb chefs offered their time and services to help him fulfill his wish. What exactly was the point of publicising this? The parents should have gone for the alternative wish once Garten declined. By publicising and having a public back and forth they may have harmed and disappointed their child more so than the initial snub.

  35. coexxi says:

    @gee, that is not what I’m saying, but it comes close… this illness is very serious but has a very high chance of permanent remission. To have chemotherapy is no joke. But honestly… if you go to a hospital, the wing with the cancer children is most of the time the one with the most sponsors. And it is not because of the mortality of this illness but because the children look so poor without hair.

    Don’t get me wrong, it is a dreadful thing to have an ill child and of course to be this child. But in the end of the day a child with no hair sells better in the charity business than one who may have worse chances to survive but has all its hair.

    But my main point in this whole story is the sketchiness of the parents and their motives and that this all seems to be blown out of proportion for reasons that are yet unknown.

  36. TXCinderella says:

    Ina got pwned! Don’t fret Enzo, dolphins are more fun anyway! Much more fun than having a meal with a fat, selfish, narcissistic, socialite.

  37. javagirl1 says:

    I have to agree with some of the posters that say the mother might have encouraged the child to pick cooking with this woman.
    As a mother of a six year old, I couldn’t imagine him using his wish to cook with some old lady. He would probably want to meet someone like iCarly.
    Anyways, I hope the boy enjoys the dolphins. That would be amazing to swim with them.

  38. RhymesWithSilver says:

    Have you ever watched Garten’s show? No doubt she makes wonderful food, but I couldn’t stand how affected and chilly everything else was. After a few episodes watching her use real butter for her fake friends, I couldn’t stand it anymore. Even the people on Martha Stewart seem happy to be there- I always feel like Garten has dragooned some unwilling strangers into appearing on television. Everything is so perfected and contrived that the show seems weirdly flat and unreal. I can totally see Garten not being able to deal with this kid and actually, deliberately saying no.

  39. Anastasia says:

    Obviously some of you have never been around small kids. They sometimes latch onto the strangest things. I’ve definitely known kids who would ask for something like this!

    But I agree with the dad, at this point, Enzo has moved on. I think Ina and her team are just mad a clear example of her bitchiness is now out in the open.

  40. polkasox says:

    @jc126 – this is a gossip site. Since when are we 100% concerned with the “whole story”? I’m sure all the other topics on here aren’t a total picture of the story either. If you’re more worried about the truth, go visit a news site.

    @DGO – the child doesn’t have to be actively dying to take part in the Make a Wish foundation. The point is the child has been really, really ill, & hasn’t had the chance to have a normal childhood. The foundation helps the child have some fun & feel more like a kid. I’ve watched my mother go through chemo & radiation, I can’t even imagine watching a 6 yr old go through it.

  41. Bocole says:

    I’ve been thinking about this, Ina has the right to say “no” but I don’t get it. Many people would be honored if someone sent a request like this over especially for an ill and potentially terminal child. It doesn’t make sense that her staff wouldn’t tell her unless they are under orders not to forward any of these types of request.

    Kudos to the other chefs, I really hope that kid will be able to take advantage of cooking with those awesome chefs.

  42. bluhare says:

    I was on Huff Po yesterday reading their take on this, and almost all of the comments were in Garten’s camp. I was surprised.

    But then I started thinking. Justin Bieber is huge with the young set, right? So I bet there are way more kids who want to meet him than some old broad who cooks. I wonder if he fulfills them all.

  43. Leticia says:

    Paula Deen would have done this in a heartbeat.

  44. Leticia says:

    Paula Deen would have done this in a heatbeat.

    @Bluhare, the comments on HuffPo are mostly sympathetic to Ina, because Ina is liberal politically, and so are most of the posters on that website. It’s natural that they want to defend her, but I think her actions in this instance are indefensible.

  45. DGO says:

    @polkasox – I know how Make a Wish foundation works. In fact, you might be surprised just how many celebs say no to them. That’s why MAW tries to discourage celebrity wishes, because most of the time celebs say NO. Janet Jackson has said no in the past, and no one boycotts her. My point about the child being in remission isn’t that he doesn’t deserve a “wish”. It’s that the press mistakenly portrayed this child on death’s door with one last wish to meet a celeb chef. That’s not what happened.

    You would be surprised and saddened to see how many parents try to use their children’s wishes to fulfil one of their own. I know one mother who requested a trip to New York with her teenaged daughter (who also wasn’t terminal) because SHE (the mother) had always wanted to go there. She spent most of the money on clothes for herself, not her daughter. Just because someone has a sick kid doesn’t make them a nice person.

  46. lrm says:

    Can you imagine the media frenzy if he went to the studios?
    it’s become the heartbreaker media story of the week….or month or year.

    The Dad was smart to bow out before it gets weirder. The kid doesn’t need all the drama.

    I dont know what went down and I wouldn’t be surprised if garten does get tons of requests and has ppl fielding the offers.
    and the mom did it for herself.

    yet again, my son loved emeril when he was 4-and now at 10 loves that guy who does diners, drive thrus etc
    and used to love rachel ray and watch her all the time. so i could see him asking to meet he.r
    it’s not like he is going to ask to meet spongebob or the transformers cartoon characters, you know?

  47. orion70 says:

    I’m not particularly a fan of Ina Garten’s, but I agree that this thing has been blown way out of proportion and very poorly handled by many people. It’s turned into quite the shitstorm. I’ve seen what’s close to death threats in the comments on other sites, saying she deserves to get cancer etc. Over the top.

    I think the MAW foundation should not communicate directly that a specific person denied a request, simply that they were unable to make the request happen. I’m equally surprised that there is not some clause against family speaking about the request etc in the media.

    And more specifically, why would the parents communicate to the child that someone “doesn’t want to meet you” ?

  48. Marjalane says:

    Two days ago there was an Associated Press article- (think it was NYT) that talked about how odd it was that this mother blogged about this and how “unusual” it was that there was no direct response from anyone on Ina Garten’s side, AND that she had her “PayPal” link front and center on her blog. Then, the mother totally backed off her criticism of Garten and removed all reference to it from her blog. Leads me to think something wasn’t exactly accurate about the mom’s story- like maybe she was looking for a little cash sympathy.

  49. jc126 says:

    @40 – the reason I think the whole story is important to get out is that the way people are talking about Ina Garten is absolutely vile – you’d have thought she murdered 50 people.
    @45 – thanks for the inside scoop. People should boycott Janet Jackson because she can’t sing live and is way overrated in my opinion, lol. The MAW thing is separate. I seem to recall hearing a story about her refusing to meet with some kid, the child of a friend of a friend, on the set of Poetic Justice. Tupac Shakur met with the kid, showed her around, and so forth. I just don’t care for JJ.
    @46 – very interesting! I wonder why the mother collects money?

  50. Bopa says:

    There were a lot of maw workers who have stated that sometimes the parents request things instead of the kids. Not sure why your average child would ask for a lesson with so many other more kid friendly options. The dolphins were a much better idea.

  51. Kiska says:

    You ROCK Enzo! BTW, swimming with dolphins is amazing and he’ll have an uplifting experience from it.

  52. sasa says:

    While I’m going to dislike her for not fulfilling a sick kid’s wish I don’t think she should be publicly prosecuted for it. It’s a personal decision, she is not obliged to do it and that’s the end of it. I’m not sure how it all transpired but if the parents complained publicly about it (blog, news..), which I guess they did or how else would we hear about it, I don’t think it was the right thing to do.

  53. Moore says:

    I’m not surprised a child would ask to meet a celeb chef if thats what they are exposed to. Not every child grows up with iCarly, Beiber and whatever else. I do find it sickening that a parent would ask for something for their child though. Anyone know the moms blog link?

    What makes Ina look bad is not that she said no cause thats her right, its that she sounded like she begged off due to scheduling then when her schedule was clear, she said no. Thats worse if thats truly what happened. She has the right to say no but to not just say no to start with is worse.

    I really hope Ina comes out with some truth to this cause she doesn’t look all that great here.

  54. ordinarygirl86 says:

    Like the others said “what a bitch”…
    I watch her every now and again but not anymore! Ina must have felt so ASHAMED after learning two other high profile celebrity chefs had gone out of their way and pushed their schedules aside to fulfill Enzo’s last wish even though he didn’t want them.

    The father was right in making the executive decision to go ahead with the dolphins because even though Ina begrudgingly agreed to do so-there was a chance that she would be a total dick to Enzo in person. Rather then run the risk of enzo’s feelings getting hurt more he chose the dolphins

  55. samihami says:

    Sooooo…any celebrity should fulfill any wish that is presented to them no matter what, otherwise they are evil, horrible people? Riiight….

    I’ve never seen this woman’s show, and never heard of her until this issue came up, but it seems to me that there is nothing wrong with the kid asking, and there is nothing wrong with her declining.

    I’m really sorry that this child is sick-I’m sorry about ANY child being sick!-but that doesn’t mean that strangers must automatically show up for command performances.

    How do we know that Ms. Garten doesn’t have her own private reasons for not wanting to do this?

    I think people are being way, way too judgmental here.

  56. Ron says:

    Most celebs in whatever field, are very busy. It takes alot to get where they are, so I understadn scheduling issues etc. What kind of gets me about this story, is that she said she had not heard about this for what a year? Who the hell handles her affairs? This is the kind of thing that get’s you killer PR. So most celebs do these sorts of things becuase they feel for the person ivolved and they know it’s great PR. Whne you are seen as denying a 6 yo with cancer, wow is that shitty. She needs new people stat.

  57. harfang says:

    I hope this finishes Garten. “Bitch” is too gentle for what she is.

  58. anonymous says:

    What a PR mess Ina, why you would decline the offer in the first place and then state that you never knew about it.

    Its a “Hamptons snobby” mentality maybe

  59. Liana says:

    I met Ina Garten once. I worked next to her on a line serving homeless families for Thanksgiving. It was for a very “quiet” charity and there were no news crews or publicity. Yet there she was, serving up stuffing and gravy with a smile and kind word. I won’t demonize her without knowing the whole story because I have seen her be charitable first hand. I will be very disappointed if she really was simply blowing this kid off, though.

  60. rupert says:

    “Even if she has a team of people fielding offers for her I find that hard to believe.”

    WHY? According to the LA Times, she receives over 100 charity requests every month. Where do you get the ball to help rip this woman in two? Based on your gut feeling? Or did you fall prey to a very one-sided TMZ story? Shame on you. Vultures.

  61. Sue says:

    I don’t think the mother had anything to do with the kid wanting to see Ina, A little girl from make a wish foundation who has brain cance wish was to meet Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes she had a great time Duff has had more the one child from the make a wish foundation on his show. My niece is 7 and loves to cook and wants to meet Duff, Paula Deen and Rachel Ray she watches the food network channel all the time.

  62. Eve says:

    What the fuck ever, I will love Ina forever anyway. Team Barefoot Contessa.

  63. Melanie says:

    Wow, she’s worse than Martha Stewart. I am disgusted with her.

  64. Sarah Talks says:

    He is adorable.

  65. doom_n_gloom says:

    Yuck her show makes me want to vomit. Not because of the food, everything is just so damn sappy and fake. I caught an episode the other week where she made some pot roast for her friend DWYER, and DWYER this and DWYER that. She must have said her name 36 times. It ended with her eating chinese food (that DWYER gifted her with)and
    receiving some lame text picture of frickin DWYER and her family eating the pot roast. Sorry, this has nothing to do with the story at hand, I just cringe when I hear her name and can totally see her being an ass to a kid.

  66. Bunnywabba says:

    I am not watching any more shows of hers. I am not a huge fan of kids as I found the somewhat annoying but i would never turn down a dying child who want sto cook with me as his dying wish. We always see her having lunch and dinmer with friends amd entertaining. She def could have freed uo time to see the poor kid. The kid is DYING Ina! Unreal.

  67. Layzo says:

    Holy crap, this woman must have a heart of stone. How do you turn down a kid with a terminal illness. Not once but TWICE!

    Swim with dolphin is a win more than spending time with this woman.

  68. Magicpeachz says:

    I don’t know if this is true or not but I never liked this woman and I’m not sure how anyone thought she was appealing enough to have her own show. It does beg the question though, would cooking with her really be the dying wish of a 3 year old boy? That just sounds hinkey to me. Sounds like mom’s wish.

  69. budsygal says:

    Good for Enzo! His mother posted a blog entry about how positive he was about his healing process, and that he was already sleeping in his water wings. 🙂

    Also, big kudos to Chef Beau and Chef Michael. I’m sure that if Enzo watches Food Network on a regular basis, he would recognize them as well, and offering themselves up as second choices shows not only generosity, but a lack of ego. They have both gotten MAY-JAH points with me!

  70. Margaret says:

    I used to love her show . . . not so much now. . .

  71. Jake says:

    I seriously doubt anyone would intentionally deny a request from a “dying kid” (who is actually in remission from what the family says). It’s totally believable that she didn’t know about the request. We don’t know this woman, so to say she is heartless is asinine. I have no reason to believe she is anything but the nice person she appears to be on her show. I also doubt this request was Enzo’s idea.

  72. jex05 says:

    Just because YOUR kid wouldn’t use his wish on meeting a fat chef whose food is not so good, doesn’t meet all kids are the same. he wants to meet her because he wants to be a chef, and because he watches her all tge time. shes a total bitch for blowing him off when she has to record for the show anyway, what would it cost her? I’m never tuning into her show, again.

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  74. Holly says:

    Although this seems sad, I blame Make A Wish. As a volunteer we all know that the child can ask for a first wish and a second wish and if they sense the first wish was an issue they should have moved on to the second wish immediately and not had the child wait for two years. This is inexcusable and a problem that Make A Wish should correct. The offices sometimes are not following up quickly enough on wishes and then the child gets stuck waiting! Common sense is if the office sees that it is going to take more than a few couple of months to complete the wish they need to move on to the second one and not keep the child hanging. The child is always told to choose two wishes and that there is no guarantee. Make A Wish needs to be more attentive and know when it is time to move on.