'Barefoot Contessa's' Offer to Make-a-Wish Kid Backfires

Make-a-Wish kid reportedly turns down Ina Garten after she turned him down.

March 31, 2011, 10:36 AM

March 31, 2011 — -- How the tables have turned: After offering to meet a Make-a-Wish kid she'd twice turned down, the "Barefoot Contessa" is now being snubbed.

Today, the father of 6-year-old cancer patient Enzo Pereda told ABCNews.com that he turned down Ina Garten's invitation for Enzo to visit her Food Network show.

"We're not going to do it," Adrian Pereda said. "I don't want my son to go through any other stress. We just want to go on with our life."

When asked if Enzo's still watching the "Barefoot Contessa," Pereda said, "I don't think so."

"We're sticking with the wish that we made right now -- going with the dolphins," he added. "He's already seen some movies and stuff that's going to happen and he's excited."

The backstory: Last week, Enzo's family revealed on its blog that its son's Make-a-Wish request to cook with Garten had been denied a second time. Enzo had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia three years ago and became a fan of "Barefoot Contessa" while watching the show from his bed.

Enzo's mother described the family's ordeal in a 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."

"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."

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

After multiple blogs and news outlets criticized Garten, she said she would invite Enzo to the set of "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 Monday. "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."

Representatives for Garten did not immediately respond to ABCNews.com's requests for comment today.

While Garten's initial refusal may have been an oversight, it was also a bad publicity move. She's gushed about doing charity events in the past. In 2009, she opened up her home for the East Hampton Historical Society, saying she always said yes to the organization "because I think what separates East Hampton from any other town is the history here."

Some have been hypercritical of Garten's initial refusal to see Enzo. (Business Insider likened Garten to last week's publicity nightmare, Chris Brown.)

Enzo's mother wants the mudslinging to stop. In her latest blog post titled "Please Stop the Madness," she wrote that she and her son have "already moved on" and are gearing up for his second Make-a-Wish request, to swim with dolphins.

Make-a-Wish has also turned its focus from the celebrity chef to the 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 Monday. "According to his mother, Enzo has started sleeping in his swimsuit because he wants to be ready when he dreams about them at night."

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