Introduction: James Beard (02:46)
The celebrity chef was America’s first "foodie.” Beard was an important figure in American cooking.
Beard's Early Life (04:28)
Beard was born in 1903 in Portland, Oregon; the city was in the midst of a timber boom. Beard’s mother was fiercely independent and a skilled cook. She ran an inn and taught her son about cooking and selecting ingredients.
Beard's Education (02:14)
Beard attended Reed College but was kicked out due to his sexual orientation. He went to Europe to study opera, an experience that opened his eyes and palate to food.
"Gastronomic Gigolo" (01:28)
Beard attended cocktail parties and presented homemade dishes. He started a catering company, Hors d’Oeuvre Inc., and became known for onion sandwiches; Chef Naomi Pomeroy demonstrates the recipe.
Restaurant Openings (02:56)
Henri Soulé opened the French Pavillon Restaurant at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 and later, Le Pavillon. Beard worked at the restaurant, insisting he was not a chef.
Beard's Cookbooks (02:51)
Beard published several cookbooks, starting with “Hors d'oeuvre and canape´s” in 1940. He filled them with recipes, anecdotes, and opinions. He wrote columns for the New York Times, Gourmet, and other publications; he was the first chef to go on TV and teach America how to cook.
Cooking Programs (03:46)
Beard hosted “I Love to Eat” in 1946. It was the first nationally televised cooking show. It was not until Julia Child appeared on “The French Chef” in 1963 that the genre caught on. Beard and Child became good friends.
Cooking Classes (07:03)
In 1973, Beard started a cooking course at Seaside High School, allowing him to take advantage of locally sourced ingredients and reconnect with his childhood home. The environment was competitive; top students Barbara Kafka and Marion Cunningham developed a bitter rivalry.
Endorsements and Free Meals (01:49)
Beard was frequently invited to dinners and press events. He did not pay for meals and was among the first celebrity chefs to be paid for endorsing products.
Partnering with Joe Baum (02:27)
Beard had a close relationship with Baum, and they developed the Four Seasons Restaurant in 1959. Cooks used locally sourced ingredient and changed the menu with each season.
Farm-to-Table Movement (04:22)
Beard suggested Chef Larry Forgione name his restaurant “An American Place” and helped him develop its farm-to-table offerings. He also helped popularize Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse.
James Beard House (03:06)
People constantly visited the house. Beard needed to entertain, know the juiciest gossip, and be surrounded by people.
Beard's Sexuality (02:38)
Beard was not always vocal about his sexual orientation, but he knew he was gay from a young age. He maintained a decades-long relationship with Gino Cofacci.
Beard was upset to learn there was not enough food for housebound seniors in New York. In response, he and Gael Greene founded an organization that raises $19 million a year toward the cause. Chef Daniel Boulud has since started a similar program, called Chefs Deliver.
Beard's Death (03:13)
Beard had several serious illnesses, and ultimately died of a heart attack on Jan. 23, 1985. His ashes were spread on the Oregon Coast.
Beard's Legacy (05:33)
In his will, Beard stipulated that his belongings be auctioned off and the proceeds donated to Reed College. Chefs raised money to buy his home, which was used to host dinners and create the James Beard Foundation. The James Beard Awards recognize the best and brightest chefs in America.
Credits: James Beard (00:57)
Credits: James Beard
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