Remembering David Wade the Rembrandt of the Kitchen

wadeby Steven Doyle

As a child I enjoyed the very best of all the local latch key television that included all the wonderful people you may remember, or perhaps not. For me it was not about animated shorts or faux rock stars being chased from one room to another to the tune of Daydream Believer. No, it was about the food, even then.

The Dallas public television station was on the leading edge of all things foodie, even back in the 70’s with such giants as Jeff Smith the Frugal Gourmet, Justin Wilson the comedic Cajun who threw down a mean pot of gumbo,  Graham Kerr the inebriated Galloping Gourmet, Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. But perhaps few recall the Gourmand that Gourmands talked bout, David Wade.

I was absolutely mesmerized by Wade’s astute elocution, the wacky ascot and jacket in the kitchen, and the dishes he created that I had never been exposed to before in my short life. It was possibly more about the words that the finished dishes. Admittedly, Wade was not a chef but recognized as one of the top “food presenters”. That was a term possibly reserved just for Wade as he was no doubt difficult to categorize. But his words stuck with me throughout my life.

Ingredients became “trappings”, taste became “a staccato of flavor”, and onions were the “tympani of the kitchen”. I also recall the word “melange” being bandied about quite a bit; as in a melange of flavor, or a melange of vegetables. That had to be Wade’s signature word.

To see and hear Wade you might think Thurston Howell III. You might not be too far off.

davidwade_coatofarmsWade had his own coat of arms

Wade authored several cookbooks, and there were companion booklets to his television program which aired in major markets in the U.S.. He also had a weekly column in his hometown Tyler Morning Telegraph and in the Houston Chronicle. I recall my mother attempting his turkey made in a brown paper bag one year for Thanksgiving. I believe we ate cheeseburgers that year. For the recipe you needed a major amount of peanut oil. I found the recipe here.

There were a few other recipes I recall, such as his prime rib roast, which I am sure my mother recreated. Or the oddly named “Sahib Eight Boy Chicken Curry”, which might have been better suited for Jeff Smith’s program.

Wade was quite the showman, and reminded me much of the Wizard who ruled over Oz. To point, in 1980 Wade established a world record by preparing a gourmet meal in a hot-air balloon during a flight over Dallas. Only the Gourmand that Gourmand’s Spoke About could pull off such a stunt while in all his ascot regalia.

Wade passed away at age 77 in 2001. No doubt his procession was filled with a melange of family and fans.

I hope to be a gourmand when I grow up.


Filed under Steven Doyle

8 responses to “Remembering David Wade the Rembrandt of the Kitchen

  1. Do you remember his worstishire powder? Thanks for the memories.

  2. Mal

    The link on Wade’s name takes you o the site that sells the powder. Nice!

  3. Pingback: David Wade, Gourmet: Have Ascot, Will Travel | Flashback : Dallas

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  5. Kevin Gray Sr

    Hello. I just had to say after seeing this post, thank you! My Grand-Mother worked with David Wade from the mid-50’s to late 60’s on the tv show when it was a daily show on KRLD DFW and when it was shown weekly. She was David’s assistant and also performed food preparation and a large amount of the cooking behind the scenes and mastered the recipes. She was a tremendous cook! Speaking of the Worcestershire powder, it was always in the spice cabinet of her house amongst a great deal of other items. I’ll buy some! Grand-ma passed away last August at 87 and I certainly miss her. I was putting together her story for our 2015 Family Reunion, honing in on the fact that she and another African American woman were quite possibly the first and only 2 in the DFW TV market during that early period (on 2 different cooking shows) with recurring appearances.
    Thanks again for the post and I’m ordering that Worcestershire Powder!

  6. Ed

    I so loved to watch David Wade as a child. For me the one word that I remember most was “passementeries” which he used to describe the potatoes that were arranged around a roast (which was of course seasoned with his Worcestershire powder). Passementeries means “an ornamental edging or trimming”. (I used the word once with friends and they said “Possum entrails?”)

    I can’t leave without mentioning the Dallas TV magic shows starring Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell which aired in that same era. I just found out that Mark died in January 2021 at age 91. He has been described as TV’s first major magician. What a showman.

    One more mention. Kat’s Karavan, hosted by Jim Lowe and Bill Carroll, on WRR-AM, bringing “off limits” black music to a primarily white audience. Another Dallas treasure.

  7. Susan Gregory

    David Wade brings to mind Chef Richard Michael Gregory who was a sous chef at the high profile Old Warsaw Restaurant (then in the Oak Lawn area) who the programming at KRLD had in mind to do what became the David Wade show. Chef Gregory was an unmatched but humble talent in the culinary arts (with life career service to Escoffier) among the chefs of Dallas (who were all friends and with those around the country including Jacques Pépin) during the 50’s until he retired in the late 80’s.

  8. Regina McCormick

    My father was one of his lawyers. I had the opportunity as a teen to work in his mailing department sending out his monthly menu magazines. I saved them and his books and still use a few recipes today. Eggplant Souffle from the old Cafeteria in Fort Worth.

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