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TV Chef Pioneers- Take 1 (Jeff Smith aka "The Frugal Gourmet"

Jeff Smith (1939-2004) began airing his tv cooking show "The Frugal Gourmet" in 1988. While not the earliest cooking show I watched, it made a huge impression on me. He did series of shows on different topics, and there was usually an accompanying cookbook.

I remember episodes with Elmo (who hasn't done a kids cooking segment with Elmo? By now he knows enough about cooking to have his own cooking show). And I also remember episodes about different cultures and foods. Mr. Smith was always very informative about the history and cultures that produced the ingredients. I probably learned as much about geography and history as I did about cooking. I don't remember a single recipe from the show, but I remember the lessons.

My mom never had much to say about this show. She probably didn't watch it. By this time I was in college and not around as much.

I found this video on youtube, and I included it because it just so happens that he is on David Letterman promoting the very cookbook I have on my shelf ("The Frugal Gourmet Whole Family Cookbook").



Unfortunately, The Frugal Gourmet's career came to an abrupt end in the early 90's "when two of his male assistant chefs brought charges of sexual harassment against him." (quote from Wikipedia). The cases never went to court because they were settled outside of it. At the time it was happening, I knew none of this. I just knew that the show suddenly disappeared after almost 10 years. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know he had died until I looked him up on Wikipedia to write this post.

I will leave it up to the individual to decide if damnation of his lifestyle overrides appreciation of his talent. As for me, I think he was way ahead of his culinary time, and the information he gave is worthwhile, even if he had other personal flaws. I enjoyed the book immensely and will be cooking several recipes from it this week! Which means that The Frugal Gourmet will also be this week's featured cookbook.

Stay tuned....

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