Category Archives: Chef

James Beard 5.5.13 Thought of the Day

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard

[Image courtesy: Three Three Five and the James Beard Foundation]

[Image courtesy: Three Three Five. com ]

James Andrew Beard was born on this day in Portland, Oregon, USA in 1903. Today is the 110th anniversary of his birth.

His mother, Elizabeth, was a foodie who ran a boarding house. His father, John, worked at the Customs House. James spent summers fishing, and gathering shellfish at a beach near Gearhart, Oregon. He cooked what ever he harvested from the sea and on  jaunts though near by wild berry patches.

After briefly attending Reed College, Beard wanted to be an actor. From 1923 to 1927 he worked on his craft, he went abroad to study theater and voice, and tried to make a go of the acting biz, but found it difficult to pay the bills, so he turned to he other love, food and opened a catering business. “With the opening of a small food shop called Hors d’Oeuvre, Inc., in 1937, he finally realized that his future lay in the world of food and cooking.” [worldculinaryinstitute.com]

Hors Doeuvre & Canapes [Image courtesy: Amazon.com]

Hors Doeuvre & Canapes [Image courtesy: Amazon.com]

In 1940 the publication of Hors d’Oeuvres & Canapés, his first cookbook, put him on the culinary map. His sophomore publication,  1942’s Cooking it Outdoors,  was “the first serious work on outdoor cooking.” [worldculinaryinstitute.com]

Now based in New York, Beard continued to delight food lovers and crank out cookbooks. He embraced the new media of Television in 1946 when he  hosted TV’s first cooking show.  He wrote prolifically and contributed to countless magazines. By 1954 he’d earned the title “Dean of American cookery” by the New York Times.

In 1955 he established The James Beard Cooking School. He continued to teach cooking to men and women for the next 30 years, both at his own schools (in New York City and Seaside, Oregon), and around the country at women’s clubs, other cooking schools, and civic groups. He was a tireless traveler, bringing his message of good food, honestly prepared with fresh, wholesome, American ingredients, to a country just becoming aware of its own culinary heritage. [worldculinaryinstitute.com]

The James Beard Cookbook (revised) [Image courtesy: Amazon.com]

The James Beard Cookbook (revised) [Image courtesy: Amazon.com]

In all he wrote more than two dozen cookbooks, most notably:

  • Fowl and Game Cookery 1944
  • The Fireside Cook Book: A Complete Guide to Fine Cooking for Beginner and Expert 1949
  • Paris Cuisine 1952
  • Complete Cookbook for Entertaining 1954
  • How to Eat Better for Less Money 1954
  • James Beard’s Fish Cookery 1954
  • Casserole Cookbook 1955
  • The James Beard Cookbook 1959
  • Delights & Prejudices: A Memoir with Recipes 1964
  • James Beard’s Menus for Entertaining 1965
  • How to Eat (and Drink) Your Way through a French (or Italian)
  • Beard on Bread 1973

 

James Beard died  in January of 1985. “He was hailed as “The Father of American Gastronomy” and his name remains synonymous with American food.” [worldculinaryinstitute.com]

[Image courtesy the James Beard Foundation]

[Image courtesy the James Beard Foundation]

One of his lasting legacies is the Award named in his honor. Since 1986 the James Beard Foundation, an NPO started by former student Peter Kump, has honored outstanding chefs, cookbook authors, wine specialists and food writers.

 

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Justin Wilson 4.24.13 Thought of the Day

“I GAR-ON-TEE!” -Justin Wilson

[Image courtesy: Smoking Meat Forum]
[Image courtesy: Smoking Meat Forum]

Justin E. Wilson was born on this day in Roseland, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, USA in 1914. Today is the 99th anniversary of his birth.

A storyteller at heart Justin Wilson worked as a safety engineer in south-western Louisiana’s Arcadia region. He found that people paid more attention to his safety lectures when he mixed in stories  of his youth so he began to drawl on the plethora of Cajun folktales he’d heard growing up.

He was so entertaining that he was asked to put out a comedy album of his stories. It sold over a million copies.

Justin was a “Humorist” who found something funny in almost everything. He did not laugh at his Cajun friends, but he laughed with them. His genuine admiration for them shined through in his stage, radio and television and 27 hilarious albums. But Mr. Wilson’s talent was not limited to his ability to tell stories.He composed 10 songs, as well as composing the background music for his world-renowned cooking show and recorded one album of Christmas songs with a jazz band. [Justin Wilson.com]

His passion for Cajun cooking lead to a PBS Television cooking show that was as much about Wilson’sfolksy story telling as it was about what ended up on the plate.

Wilson penned “seven best-selling Cajun cookbooks and two books of humorous Cajun stories” [Ibid] He also wrote music (including the theme song for his cooking show) and did Christmas album backed by a Jazz band.

Wilson died September 5, 2001


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