'Barefoot Contessa' Reaches Out to Make-A-Wish Kid She Snubbed

After turning down a 6-year-old leukemia patient twice, Ina Garten reaches out.

ByABC News
March 28, 2011, 11:25 AM

March 28, 2011 — -- The "Barefoot Contessa" has time to star in her Food Network show, pen cookbooks, and cook at charity luncheons for her well-to-do fans.

But apparently, her schedule was too packed to meet a 6-year-old boy stricken with leukemia who requested a cooking session with her through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She turned him down, twice.

Now, after multiple blogs and news outlets criticized her decision, Garten is inviting Enzo Pereda to the set of "The Barefoot Contessa."

"Ina became aware of Enzo's story this weekend and will be calling him today," a spokesperson for Garten said in a statement to ABCNews.com. "She looks forward to inviting him to spend some time with her at the Food Network studios."

"Ina receives approximately 100 requests a month to support charitable causes that deeply affect peoples' lives," the statement continued. "She contributes both personally and financially on a regular basis to numerous causes, including to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Sadly, it's of course not possible to do them all. Throughout her life, Ina has contributed generously to all kinds of important efforts and she will continue to do so."

In a statement released today, Make-A-Wish said it supports Garten's move but noted that it's focusing on Pereda's second wish -- to swim with dolphins.

"Enzo and his family have publicly expressed excitement about his dolphin wish," a spokesperson for the foundation said in a statement to ABCNews.com. "According to his mother, Enzo has started sleeping in his swimsuit because he wants to be ready when he dreams about them at night."

The statement added, "We have been informed that Ina Garten plans to contact Enzo independently of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and we wish them well."

In 2010, Make-A-Wish reportedly made its first attempt to arrange a meeting between the celebrity chef and Enzo, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia three years ago. Pereda often watched "The Barefoot Contessa" while resting in bed.

The boy was turned down last year and again this month. Pereda's mother described their family's ordeal in a recent post on her blog:

"As we were arriving home from the hospital I got word from 'Make A Wish' that it is has been officially confirmed that Ina Garten (the 'Barefoot Contessa') has declined Enzo's wish to meet her and cook a meal with her," she wrote.

"I felt terrible for him, he has been unwavering in his desire to meet her for 3 years and despite many attempts to get him to pick a 2nd wish or change his mind he would not. Last year Ina gave a 'soft no' supposedly because she had a 10 month book tour and they called and asked him what he wanted to do and he said 'I will wait' and he did."

Pereda's mother added that when she told her son the news, he simply replied, "Why doesn't she want to meet me?"