This must surely have been the PR disaster that Ina Garten feared. The tables Food Network star, better known as the “Barefoot Contessa”, was last week discovered to have refused to meet a Make-a-Wish kid. As we reported, this week, she called the family of Enzo Pereda, a 6-year-old cancer sufferer, to say she had changed her mind and would meet now. But Enzo’s family told her it was too late and to take a hike.
“This has been a disaster for Ina. She buried her head in the sand for days hoping the bad publicity would go over, but it didn’t,” said an insider on her cookery show.
Ina’s ex-fans were no more taken in by the change of heart than we were. It has been taken as a blatant attempt to stem the tide of online criticism, rather than to make a sick little boy’s dream come true.
“She was worried her initial reaction was hurting her business,” the program insider admits.
Ina had twice refused to meet Enzo after being contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Finally, after days of pressure from ex-fans disgusted by her behaviour, Ina contacted the family personally. But Enzo’s family are over her.
Now the Foundation is working hard to make Enzo’s second wish come true. He wants to swim with dolphins. They are unlikely to be too busy to meet him. The Pereda family have dealt with the whole scandal with dignity and poise, refusing to be draw into criticism of The Barefoot Contessa.
“I don’t want to put my son through all these emotions. We’re better off just leaving everything the way it is,” Enzo’s father, Adrian said.