It’s been 49 years since Ina Garten married her husband Jeffrey, and the two still look as in love as ever.
Jeffrey recalled the first time he laid eyes on Ina when she was just 15 years old and he was a freshman at Dartmouth College.
“I just knew she’d be the kind of woman I’d want to be around forever,” Jeffrey told Food Network.
After spotting her through a window at the library, Jeffrey turned to his roommate and said, “Look at that girl, isn’t she beautiful?”
“She looked really smart and she looked nurturing,” he said. “She looked like she would take care of me.”
As it turned out, his roommate knew exactly who she was: Ina Rosenberg. She was the younger sister of another student at Dartmouth. And Jeffrey’s roommate had a date planned with her that night.
Luckily, things didn’t pan out between Ina and his roommate, so Jeffrey immediately started courting her, sending letters regularly.
Eventually, she started visiting him on weekends and soon she became well known on campus.
“It was very fashionable at the time for guys to date women who were going off to medical school or law school,” Jeffrey said, “but Ina was sending me shoe boxes of brownies and making me sweaters. And all these guys who were after those other women — they were in my room all the time, asking, ‘What did Ina send you this time?'”
The two tied the knot on December 22,1968 at Ina’s Connecticut home. The couple told PEOPLE it was magical.
“It was a perfect day for a wedding,” Ina told PEOPLE. “Right in the middle of the ceremony, it started to snow. It was beautiful and romantic, but by the end of the party, the poor guys parking cars had to dig everyone out!”
Ina was always a good cook, but it wasn’t until 1972 when the couple took a trip to Paris that they realized how truly talented she was.
“It was the first formative period in her cooking,” Jeffrey said. “All those little shops in Europe — the boulangeries — Ina would walk through them and just glow.”
Ina started hosting “legendary” dinner parties in Washington D.C. She worked in the White House Office of Management and Budget by day, and would test out recipes by night.
In 1978, she bought a small specialty-food store in Westhampton Beach, NY called Barefoot Contessa, and the rest is history.
Ina told PEOPLE the secret to their marriage is trust. They spend most of the week in separate cities and make the most of the time they have together.
“No matter where he is, I always know that there’s nothing more important than me in his life,” Garten says. “We give each other enormous freedom to do what we want to do, but we’re still the anchor.”
Jeffrey said no matter where he is, Ina always makes him feel like he’s at home. He recalled a time in 2002 when she bought a small apartment in Paris for them to share. She spent a year renovating it without sharing photos of plans with him. Jeffrey didn’t see the place until it was complete. Finally when it was complete, he took an overnight flight from New York to Paris.
When Jeffrey entered the fifth-floor apartment, Ina had French music playing, hot coffee and croissants waiting for him.
“She had made everything so warm and so beautiful. Within five minutes, I efelt like I’d lived there forever.”