5 of America’s Most Influential Television Chefs

chefby Steven Doyle

Through out time many chefs have contributed to the culinary landscape, offering their unique perspective in the kitchen. Some notable names might include Prosper Montagné, author of Larousse Gastronomique and Georges Auguste Escoffier who penned Le guide culinary, both still heavily referenced in modern commercial kitchens.

Today we take a peek at the chefs that have taught the rest of us to cook. These chefs had the ability to sneak into our homes each week enabling the average home cook to create superb dishes and infleunce the way we think about food. They also poured the foundation for an entire industry that we now accept as routine.

Visit our list for the top 5 most influential televsion chefs. 

Cookbook author and early pioneer television chef, James Beard was the quintessential American chef. James Beard brought French cooking to the American middle and upper classes in the 1950’s. Julia Child said he was, “Well-educated and well-traveled during his eighty-two years, he was familiar with many cuisines but he remained fundamentally American.” Since his passing, Beard’s home has become a shrine to chefs across the world.

Julia Child is best known for her on-air antics and her best selling premier cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Having lived her entire life as what we might label as a ‘foodie’ Child was a prolific writer and television chef. Her first on air program, The French Chef, ran for ten years winning many awards. Her programming started the food television revolution we enjoy today.

Jeff Smith authored a dozen cookbooks and starred on his own PBS program, The Frugal Gourmet. His enthusiasm for food history made the no-nonsense chef appealing to many home cooks and was quite popular. Originally a Methodist minister, Smith paved the way for many chefs working today.

Born in Bourg-en-Bresse, Lyon in France, Jacques Pépin  started his career working at a very early age. By thirteen he had already worked in 4 very busy kitchens. In the 70;s Pepin was working as corporate chef at Howard Johnson’s but later quit to open his soup-inspired restaurant La Potagerie. Pepin went on to star in numerous television programs and write more than 20 books. He is also an accomplished painter. Pepin’s contribution to the American home cook has been invaluable. We also have a soft spot for his daughter, Claudine.

Graham Kerr  wrote his first cookbook, The Galloping Gourmet, in the 1960’s. In 1969 he would star on his own program that would run for 3 years, using his lighthearted, silly humor (along with giant slabs of butter) to work his way around the kitchen. After a stroke suffered by his wife, Kerr reworked all of his old recipes in what he called MiniMax. He also banned the re-running of his old series due to the flagrant use of fats which he now considers abominable.

Who influenced the way you dine or cook?

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Filed under chefs, Crave, Steven Doyle, Television

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