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May 23, 2024 36 mins

James Beard is called the dean of American cooking for good reason -- he was a prolific pioneer of local, sustainable food that's celebratory, indulgent, and approachably DIY. In this classic episode, Anney and Lauren explore the life of this sometimes troubled chef, writer, and bon vivant.

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Speaker 1 (00:09):
Hello, and welcome to Saber production of iHeartRadio. I'm Annie Reese.

Speaker 2 (00:12):
And I'm Warren Vogelbaum, and today we have a classic
episode for you about James Beard.

Speaker 3 (00:18):
Yes, was there any particular reason this was on your mind? Lauren?

Speaker 2 (00:22):
Uh, Well, the nominees for the twenty twenty four James
Beard Awards were just announced in April and the ceremonies
in June, so like, his name was kind of in
the back of my head and I was sort of
going through and I was like, yeah, yeah, why not.
We were super punchy in this one. It Yeah. It

(00:46):
originally aired in April of twenty eighteen. Speaking of the
awards this year, good luck to friend of the show,
Mike Jordan, who is a local Atlanta food writer who
is up for a Journalism award for his excellent local coverage.

Speaker 1 (01:03):
Yeah, yes, good luck. And it is amazing to me
how many times James Beard and James Beard Awards do
come up in our episodes. Oh yeah, yeah, so it
is certainly something that is recurring and on the back
of our minds frequently, I would say, because it's just

(01:24):
there and a lot of things we talked about.

Speaker 2 (01:26):
Yeah, he was really omnipresent in like twentieth century American cuisine.

Speaker 1 (01:33):
Yes, yes, and as we talked about in our conversation
with Michelle Norris, that was amazing. There are just certain
people that have those personalities that did those things that
just stood out and have are so important to so
many people. Yeah, and I would say he is one
of them for sure.

Speaker 2 (01:54):
Yeah, despite you know, trouble in his personal life sometimes
and some moments of darkness. Uh yeah, just a just
a very very big, very big person, very big guy. Yep, no,
no pun pun pun intended is sorry? Yeah, that's yeah,
that's my bun.

Speaker 3 (02:09):
He was tall. Hello.

Speaker 1 (02:14):
I suppose we should let pass Annie and Lauren take
it away.

Speaker 3 (02:30):
Hello, and welcome to food Stuff. I'm Ann Aries and
I'm Lauren Vogelbaum.

Speaker 2 (02:33):
And uh, today we're doing another chef profile.

Speaker 1 (02:37):
Yes, it is about time we returned to the personality
of people cooking.

Speaker 3 (02:43):
Well, the last time we did was Julie Child.

Speaker 1 (02:45):
Yes, and that's gonna be tough to follow, but I
think today's subject is a good follow up.

Speaker 2 (02:51):
Yeah, today we're talking about James Beard.

Speaker 1 (02:54):
Yes, of the awards you have probably seen if you
don't know who he actually is, and he is infinitely quotable.
He had a very big personality. Yeah, so one of
the quotes of the episode I wanted to start off with,
the only thing that will make a soupfle fall is
if it knows you're afraid of it. I knew soupfles

(03:18):
could sense fear.

Speaker 2 (03:19):
They can, they can smell it. I've never successfully made
a sup fly me neither. I've been blaming my oven,
not my fear this whole time.

Speaker 3 (03:26):
But that's where we were going wrong. That's where we
were going wrong. And he has another quote that I love.

Speaker 1 (03:32):
I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism,
I might manage if there were enough Tarragon around.

Speaker 2 (03:39):
I believe that about him, with or without Taragon. To
be super honest, calling James Beard Againnibal, I'm saying that
he had a great hunger for life and culinary experiences,
and that he could be a little bit cutthroat at times,

(04:00):
so not literally like mostly not that I've heard of.
Oh my goodness, this is going very poorly. James Beard Foundation,
Please don't, please, don't put out a hit on me.

Speaker 3 (04:10):
Not that I'm implying that that's what he did. Oh,
Lauren Lauren.

Speaker 2 (04:13):
Oh, it's is failing.

Speaker 3 (04:16):
It's time to dig Lauren out of this grave that
she has put herself in. Oh goodness, So who who
was James Beard?

Speaker 1 (04:25):
Lauren?

Speaker 3 (04:25):
And try not to talk about cannibalism too well, okay.

Speaker 2 (04:29):
James Beard, sometimes called the Dean of American cooking, at
least starting when The New York Times called him that
in nineteen fifty four, is one of the creators or
originators or visionaries of modern American food culture. Coming out
of the rationing of the World Wars and the Great
Depression and rebelling against the industrialization of food and all

(04:52):
the dour messaging of temperance and prohibition, and even rebelling
kind of against the codified and perceivably stuffy nature of
hot cuisine. James Beard promoted the pursuit of pleasure and
creativity or crafting through cooking and eating, and especially the
elevation of like common, traditional, local, sustainable, and frequently poor

(05:18):
American foods, elevating those to celebratory status. Like y'all, we
all enjoy cheeseburgers, and you can make one that's just
as much delicacy as any hot recipe. Oh yeah, and
you can do it with your own two hands, from
ingredients produced by your community.

Speaker 3 (05:34):
Absolutely can, uh.

Speaker 2 (05:36):
And that sounds kind of like pat at this point,
but he was saying this in like the nineteen fifties. Yeah,
and it was a revelation to a lot of people,
especially because he was saying it, you know that you can.
You don't have to be a chef. You can be
a chef or an amateur. You don't have to be
a lady. You could be a dude or a lady
if you're doing it at home. That this is accessible
to everybody. And yeah, it's a message that's just profound

(06:00):
influenced how Americans cook and eat, both at restaurants and
in homes.

Speaker 3 (06:05):
What's the thing from Raditui, what's the quote.

Speaker 2 (06:08):
I've never seen ratitude?

Speaker 1 (06:10):
No, Lauren, get out of here now now you can
stay and something like anyone can be a chef.

Speaker 3 (06:17):
I don't know.

Speaker 1 (06:17):
It's much more inspirational or perhaps just said with a
fake French accent, so it sounds like that essentially. I
think it's encapsulating that that.

Speaker 3 (06:26):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (06:27):
Yeah, and James Beard was, as you said earlier, one
of those larger than life kind of personalities, and he
was like six foot four inches and about three hundred pounds,
which is around one point nine meters and one hundred
and thirty six kilos for our metric friends, so you know,
literally a little bit larger than life. But yeah, he
was one of modern mass media's first celebrity chefs, and

(06:50):
a cookbook author and essayist and a cooking teacher, and
just an inspiration to the culinary industry at large, including
to that first chef who we profiled, Julia Cha. Yep,
the two of them became great friends. But I didn't
mention that in our Julia episode, and I've been kind
of kicking myself for it ever since. She once said,
in the beginning, there was Beard.

Speaker 3 (07:12):
I love that. That's fantastic, right, oh.

Speaker 2 (07:15):
James Beard was also pretty openly gay through a number
of decades when that was anything from just distinctly impolite
to discuss to outright illegal here in the United States
and perhaps especially in American professional kitchens. He came out
publicly in the nineteen eighty one revision of his memoir
Delights and Prejudices, just four years before his death, but

(07:38):
it wasn't really discussed in the food community until the
two thousands. Neither his obituaries nor those of his like
thirty year erstwhile partner, this pastry chef by the name
of Gino Cafacci. None of that mentioned their orientation. They
would be like, they're great friends. But sure, I mean
they were, I guess, But and I don't mention this

(07:59):
because as the sexual orientation of any chef or celebrity
particularly matters, but rather because it's important to consider the
contributions of LGBTQ plus people to American culture, despite and
maybe even because of the marginalization and discrimination that they've seen.

(08:19):
It's just such an American story, you know, life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness in the face of hardship.
So yeah, yeah, James Beard wrote in his nineteen forty
nine The Fireside Cookbook, America has the opportunity as well
as the resources, to create for herself a truly national
cuisine that will incorporate all that is best in the

(08:41):
traditions of the many people who have crossed the seas
to form our new, still young nation. Oh yeah, from
my little heart, I know, yeah, I know, I got
for climbed a little bit in this one too. These days. Also,
as Annie said, earlier. You might mostly know of Beard

(09:02):
through the much lauded James Beard Awards, which come in many,
much multiple categories for food writing in cookbooks, media and journalism,
and the restaurant industry for restaurant design, service and individual chefs.
But I am getting way ahead of us. Yes, that
didn't start happening until after his death, So let us.

Speaker 3 (09:24):
Talk about his life. Yeah, so let's do that.

Speaker 1 (09:29):
James Beard was born on May fifth, nineteen oh three,
in Portland, Oregon, to English immigrant Mary Elizabeth and John Beard.
According to some sources, he was at thirteen to fourteen
pound baby.

Speaker 2 (09:41):
Oh.

Speaker 1 (09:42):
I certainly hope that wasn't the case, but well, whatever
the case was. Mary owned the Gladstone, a local boarding house,
and John Beard worked at Portland's custom House. Beard later
described his father as a Mississippi gambler type who wore
a red carnation, smelled of fine soaps, and was loved

(10:02):
by all the ladies, which really paints a pretty good
picture of him.

Speaker 3 (10:07):
Uh huh.

Speaker 1 (10:08):
His mother sounds fascinating. When she arrived to America from Europe,
she was sixteen and pretending successfully to be a governess,
eventually buying the Gladstone in Portland in eighteen ninety six,
where she ran the hotel's kitchen. Apparently Portland was quite
the bustling port at the time, and one whose description
reminded me of pirates.

Speaker 3 (10:29):
Of the Caribbean Yeah or Caribbean.

Speaker 1 (10:32):
At first, she staffed her kitchen with mostly French and
Italian immigrants, but to her annoyance, a lot of them
up and left after catching gold fever. She found a
solution by hiring Chinese workers, some of whose names you
might recognize from Beard's recipes and writings.

Speaker 3 (10:49):
Let, Jin, Billy, and Hoy.

Speaker 1 (10:52):
James Beard was known for his theatrics, and I'd say
from reading Barry Fussles for to the Essential James Beard
Cookbook he got that from his mother. Fussel describes arguments
between Let and Elizabeth over things like the proper way
to preserve a fig that turned into fencing matches. Let
armed with a knife and Elizabeth with a piece of firewood.

(11:16):
Such arguments usually ended in laughter and not injury. Though
through observing these passionate arguments, along with the melting pot
of cuisine from China from England in the Pacific, Beard
acquired quote a love of food. He also described himself
as precocious and nasty a child as ever inhabited Portland.

Speaker 3 (11:39):
At least he was aware.

Speaker 1 (11:43):
He also had an excellent taste memory, and his first
one reminds me of Kung Fu Panda too. I wonder
if anyone will get this reference. We're gonna go with
it anyway.

Speaker 2 (11:54):
I also haven't seen that film, Oh man, please continue.

Speaker 1 (11:57):
As a baby, he found his way to a vegetable
bin and ate an entire onion, including the skin.

Speaker 3 (12:04):
And now, if you've seen Kung.

Speaker 1 (12:05):
Fu Panda too, and I could go on and on,
the panda was found in a radish bin and he
ate all the radishes.

Speaker 3 (12:15):
And there's a whole cute thing that's involved.

Speaker 1 (12:17):
Anyway, moving on, I brought up two children's peries in
this episode, and we're very early on.

Speaker 3 (12:24):
Let's see how anymore I can hit. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (12:26):
When he was sick with malaria at three years old,
he recalled it being given a chicken jelly. From a
young age, his father took him to restaurants in Portland,
weekly Lett took him to Chinatown, and his mother took
him to see the Louver when he was five, where
he got a taste of French cuisine. However, as he
got older, it was acting that call to him, not cooking.

(12:48):
He played such roles as tweedled dumb in Alice in
Wonderland and mister Fuzzy Wig in a Christmas Carroll, which
I always say is probably pretty good casting.

Speaker 2 (12:57):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (12:58):
Absolutely.

Speaker 1 (12:59):
In nineteen twenty one, Beard was quietly asked to leave
Portland's Read College because he was gay, or for.

Speaker 2 (13:07):
Having an affair with one of his male professors at
any rate, though he would say much later that he
knew he was gay by the time he was seven
years old, so this wasn't like an experimental phase, right. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (13:19):
When the college yearbook published a few weeks after he
was kicked out, there was no record of him in it.
So he packed up took a freighter through the Panama
Canal to London and a little later Paris to study voice,
with aspirations of becoming an opera singer.

Speaker 2 (13:37):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (13:37):
Yeah, and of course he tried a lot of food.
Of course, when singing didn't work in Europe due to
a vocal ailment, he set sail for New York City
to get back into acting. He landed roles such as
Sirao and Othello at Walter Hampton's Theater. These gigs weren't
enough for him to live off of, though, and in

(13:58):
nineteen twenty four he went back to Portland, started working
as a radio announcer, and became a member of.

Speaker 3 (14:03):
A theater troupe.

Speaker 1 (14:04):
A couple of years later, in nineteen twenty seven, he
went to Hollywood and he landed some small roles in
films like Cecil Beatamill's King of Kings. He did some
food commercials for radio in San Francisco, then bounce back
to Portland, performing in local theater. Over the next couple
of years, he tried his hand at all sorts of things,
acting in Seattle, studying costume design at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Tech.

(14:27):
Back to Portland in nineteen thirty two. Over the next
five years, he worked in stage, acted in plays, and
taught cooking classes, before deciding to head back to New
York in nineteen thirty seven to become a quote gastronomic jickelo.

Speaker 3 (14:42):
That is an excellent title, and I approve wholeheartedly.

Speaker 1 (14:48):
Somewhere along the line, he started cooking meals backstage for
cast or for friends at their houses. When it looks
like acting wasn't going to pan out for a while,
or at least he needed to make money in the
meantime and two of his friends, Billy.

Speaker 3 (15:02):
I called him Billy like, we're familiar, but it's Bill. Bill.

Speaker 1 (15:06):
Bill and Irma Road opened a catering business in nineteen
thirty seven called or derv And. It was quite popular,
especially among the rich. And I mean, who else is
getting catering now unless your company? And it was well reviewed.
The Daily News wrote, the Brierish onion sandwich gives the
palette its great moment. Oh that was the favorite item

(15:28):
on the menu.

Speaker 2 (15:29):
Yeah, and that was one of Beard's favorite items. For
the rest of his life. He would talk much about that,
that onion ring sandwich.

Speaker 1 (15:35):
Oh, now I want to recreate it. But this finally
brings us to Beard's cooking career, and we're going to
get into that, but first a quick break for a
word from our sponsor, and we're back.

Speaker 3 (15:57):
Thank you sponsor, Yes, thank you.

Speaker 2 (16:00):
So this catering thing was working out pretty well for Beard,
and based on his experience in it, he published his
first book, Or derv And Cannape in nineteen forty and
the stated aim of this book was to eliminate quote
all the various horrors prevalent on the routine or derv tray,

(16:20):
including tidbits on toothpicks, coily stuck into a grapefruit, coily
stuck in there. It was a book promoting that the
kind of cocktail party at which both the guests have
a lovely time and the host actually enjoys providing it.
My goodness, I know how modern. He took with him

(16:42):
into the concept of it. His experience in theater. He wrote,
put on a fine show like the theater, Offering food
and hospitality to people is a matter of showmanship. And
no matter how simple the performance, unless you do it
well with love and originality, you have a flop on
your hands.

Speaker 3 (17:00):
It's a flop.

Speaker 2 (17:00):
No one wants a flop, especially not Oh.

Speaker 3 (17:02):
Wait, no, the producers do.

Speaker 2 (17:04):
Oh that's true. But they're very rare and they're and
they're not they're not not making souflets. He would publish
another book, Cook at Outdoors, just a year later, but
then his life as a chef and writer was put
on hold for a couple of years. During World War Two,
he was drafted in nineteen forty two, went to cryptography
school and then served with the USS. That's the United

(17:25):
Seaman's Service, which was a newly minted organization that provided
relief and assistance to seafarers and particularly US armed forces abroad.
They still do, you know, recreation communication with loved ones,
tasty food, that sort of thing.

Speaker 1 (17:39):
Yeah, very similar to Julia Child actually exactly Yeah.

Speaker 2 (17:43):
But by nineteen forty four Beard was back to work
in publishing and another project was on the horizon.

Speaker 3 (17:50):
A project was that Lauren Television, the small.

Speaker 2 (17:54):
Screw, the small screen, Small Screen.

Speaker 3 (17:57):
Yes.

Speaker 2 (17:58):
In nineteen forty six, nbc 's flagship channel WNBT in
New York City had a really successful culinary segment on
this daytime variety show, and so the station wanted to
do a full food show. James Beards I Love to
Eat premiered on NBC in nineteen forty six. It was
a show demonstrating recipes, probably the very first network cooking show,

(18:22):
though some local stations had been broadcasting cooking demonstration shows
or segments as early as nineteen thirty nine. I Love
to Eat would run until nineteen forty seven, first fifteen
minutes per episode, then thirty minutes including live advertisements. Why
advertising my favorite kind. However, no footage remains because it

(18:43):
hadn't really occurred to anyone yet that television might be
saved for posterity, that like anyone would care beyond airing
in the immediate moment, Although apparently there is at least
one audio recording of an episode featuring a ski resort luncheon.

Speaker 3 (18:58):
He was at a ski rest.

Speaker 2 (19:00):
I think he talked about going to a ski resort.
I hope he was there. I mean, I hope he
went to some lovely Yeah. Sure, a luncheon too. In
the only second least expected cameo of the episode, the
show was produced by Patricia Kennedy, who worked on it
while campaigning for her brother John Kennedy's very first congressional run.

Speaker 3 (19:24):
Wow huh.

Speaker 2 (19:27):
In the actual least expected cameo of the episode, legendary
special effects artist Dick Smith, whose toxic blood recipe I
mentioned in our SFX episode, was the makeup artist for
this show.

Speaker 1 (19:40):
Was there a lot of fake blood involved?

Speaker 2 (19:42):
No, just normal just normal like like screen makeup, you know,
making someone like all like Matt and if they are
super bald, like for example, James Beard was drawing. He
drew some some hair onto the top of Beard's head
to make it less shiny.

Speaker 1 (19:59):
Under the Oh my goodness, the true special effects.

Speaker 2 (20:02):
Right, yeah, but the show did not last. As dynamic
and personable as Beard was in real life, he wasn't
really great on camera. He wud later appear in three
episodes of The Mike Douglas Show, a daytime variety show
in the sixties and early seventies, but that was really it.
Later still, he and Julia Child tried to get a

(20:23):
show together for the American Bisentennial of nineteen seventy six.
It was about going to be about pre revolutionary American cooking,
and I really wish the'd been able to make it happen.
It sounds fabulous. I think that they wish it had
happened too. They called themselves now Foam Bob Boo the
Bearded Child when they hung out together, which is adorable,

(20:44):
really cute. But at the time, with Paul Child's failing
health and Beard's lack of camera sparkle, the project was scrapped.

Speaker 3 (20:53):
Oh Man.

Speaker 2 (20:54):
However, the good sales of Beard's books and the boost
from the TV market just catapulted him to fame within
the New York City food scene. In the early nineteen fifties,
he formed this feverish publishing schedule, with new books out
at least every couple of years, frequently several at a time,
all in the same year, and the culinary community in

(21:17):
those early years in New York City is reported to
have been competitive and kind of strained, but Beard kept
with it and took on so many side hustles. A
gig at Sherry Wine and Spirits, where he learned the
wine industry and wrote for their catalogs, columns for magazines
and newspapers that would wind up getting nationally syndicated, an
update of the classic standard Bartender's Guide, and cooking classes,

(21:41):
more and more cooking classes. He would earn that title
from The New York Times the Dean of American Cookery
in nineteen fifty four. In fifty five, he established the
James Beard Cooking School in New York City and an
offshoot in Seaside, Oregon, to formalize his consultation and cooking
instruction businesses. Nineteen fifty nine, he was invited to help

(22:02):
plan the menu for this new restaurant venture in New
York City, one that hoped to establish American cuisine as
something that could be just as fine and fancy as
classical French. The four Seasons. That the four Seasons. That's
the four seasons. Heavens to Betsy and yeah, they're playing

(22:22):
kind of worked. They were fairly successful, I would say so.

Speaker 1 (22:25):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (22:26):
It was a hot spot of the glamorous for decades.
Jackie Oasa's called the Cathedral. Whoa, I know, I love it. Yeah,
And Beard's influence in that success was strong. He would
purchase a brownstone in the posh and booming Greenwich Village
area in nineteen sixty which became the seat of his
culinary empire, host to his classes and these fabulous parties,

(22:50):
though he would continue to travel offering lectures and classes
around the world. Nineteen sixty is the same year that
Beard probably met Julia Child for the first time through
common connection. He threw this party for her when she
came back to the United States from Europe, just a
year before mastering the art of French cooking finally finally published.

Speaker 3 (23:09):
And the rest is history.

Speaker 2 (23:11):
And such was his popularity that in nineteen sixty four
he would release the first edition of That Delights and Prejudices,
a memoir with recipes.

Speaker 1 (23:22):
Every memoir should come with recipes, right, Let's just be real.

Speaker 2 (23:26):
Why wouldn't you Oh yeah.

Speaker 1 (23:28):
Now we've got to come up with what are memoirs?
What recipes they will come with?

Speaker 2 (23:33):
Oh goodness, oh I've got like seventeen just popped my
head simultaneously. Fantastic, And this is kind of moving towards
the wind down of Beard's life. In nineteen seventy six,
he would receive an honorary degree from the aforementioned Read College,
which seemed to settle the bad blood between them. In

(23:55):
his final will and testament, Beard instructed that his Greenwich
home be sold, with the proceeds going to Read College.

Speaker 3 (24:01):
Oh that's nice.

Speaker 2 (24:03):
He had a beloved pug during these years, named Percy.
Of course he did. Percy the Pug. The pug received
meals directly from the Greenwich Brownstones, longtime Steward, and Percy
would sometimes wear a bow tie, just like Beard for
special occasions.

Speaker 1 (24:19):
Okay, I'm still trying to fit as many children's movies
into this as I can. I'm pretty sure the dog
from Pocahontas the pug was.

Speaker 3 (24:29):
Named personally, I think it was.

Speaker 1 (24:31):
I wonder if it was based on this, Oh goodness,
further research, I don't think it was wearing a bow tie,
but it did.

Speaker 3 (24:37):
Have a little rough.

Speaker 1 (24:38):
Yeah, he definitely had some kind of fancy perhaps a hat, yes,
just a show delightful English chapeau.

Speaker 3 (24:47):
Yes.

Speaker 2 (24:48):
Around this time, however, James Beard's health wasn't great. Sort
of conveniently, Novelle Cuisine was on the rise, having started
in France as a reaction to the be sauces of
Hawk cuisine and promoting like lighter, fresher preparations. That plus
his prescribed diets from doctors, would influence his later recipes.

(25:11):
He had heart and circulation problems. Apparently when he wound
up in hospitals, his friends, like the Four Seasons, would
deliver food to him, and his friends would sneak in
champagne and Scotch against doctor's orders. As an article on
The Daily Beast put it understanding that for Beard, to
live without what he loved was to not live at all.
Oh yeah, h Beard also struggled with depression, and his

(25:35):
delight in gossip could turn a little bit macabre, as
The Washington Post once described it, pitting friends and colleagues
against one another. And I also I need to put
in here because I did the research and I cannot
ignore it. One essay that I read noted secondhand a
scenario during Beard's later years that I could only describe

(25:55):
as and if you'll pardon my French and please bleep
me some harving Einstein, where he made a young aspiring
pastry chef deeply uncomfortable by exposing himself during what was
supposed to be a professional conversation. And the description makes
it sound like it was not the only time that
kind of thing happened. I read about it in the
essay America Your Food is So Gay, which is a

(26:17):
great title for anything, originally published in the now defunct
Lucky Peach magazine. If you would like to read more
about it, it's a pretty good essay. They'll be warned
that the author didn't seem to see this episode is harassment.
He kind of mentioned it like, oh, that wacky, that
wacky Beard. Oh he's so hedonistic, right, And you know,

(26:38):
I'm not going to in any way like excuse or
part in this behavior. I hope it didn't happen very often.
And in order to prevent sexual harassment, we all, though
perhaps especially those of us in positions of social power,
need to think more and better about consent.

Speaker 3 (26:52):
Absolutely soapbox of the episode.

Speaker 2 (26:56):
Beard also drew criticism from friends and competitors around this
time for selling out. He had many many lucrative product
endorsement deals, and lots of his later recipes called for
ingredients that were in line with that, you know, like
frozen peas or canned corn, for example, due to his
affiliation with Green Giant. These and other large corporate endorsements

(27:21):
must have also, like really not helped with his kind
of depression and self hatred sort of issues, because you know,
he was this long time supporter of fresh and local foods,
and yeah, probably made him feel away. But although Beard
was troubled during this period of his life, he was
also doing good. In nineteen eighty one, he helped found
the charity City Meals on Wheels with New York magazine

(27:43):
restaurant critic Gail Green, who had realized that meal deliveries
to homebound folks stopped over holiday weekends in New York.
They delivered six thousand meals that first year, and the
organization is still around today, having delivered its fifty millionth
meal in twenty fourteen.

Speaker 3 (28:01):
Wow.

Speaker 2 (28:03):
Beard would pass away in nineteen eighty five of a
heart attack at the age of eighty one. He was
working up until his death. What would be his twenty
second and final cookbook, Beard on Pasta, was published in
nineteen eighty three, and at the time of his death
he was working on a more personal, kind of gossipy memoir.
His ashes were spread on the coast of Gearhart, Oregon,

(28:25):
where his family spent summers when he was a child,
gathering shellfish and berries and cooking their meals with whatever
the day had brought them.

Speaker 3 (28:33):
Sound lovely, it does.

Speaker 1 (28:36):
He sounds like he was the Stephen King of publishing
cooking books.

Speaker 2 (28:41):
Oh yeah, he was extremely prolific.

Speaker 1 (28:43):
We still have a little bit more about James Weard.

Speaker 2 (28:47):
Oh yeah, because absolutely his memory has persisted far, far
beyond the actual man. And we'll get to that after
one more quick break for a word from.

Speaker 3 (28:56):
Our sponsor, and we're back. Thank you, sponsor, Yes, thank you,
all right, So let's talk about that oord. Yes.

Speaker 2 (29:14):
Yes.

Speaker 1 (29:15):
In nineteen eighty six, a year after James Beard's death,
a group of his friends and chefs, led by Peter
Cump and Julia Child, purchased his town house after successful
fundraising campaign, and they started the James Beard Foundation with
this mission statement to provide a center for the culinary arts,
and to continue to foster the interest James Beard inspired

(29:36):
in all aspects of food, his preparation, presentation, and of
course enjoyment. Comp who had started a theater troupe once
upon a time, set up the space as sort of
a cooking theater, drawing chefs like Wolfgang Puck. Nowadays, the
Beard House sees two hundred and fifty events a year.

Speaker 2 (29:55):
Both fledgling and famous chefs from around the country come
to host these lavish dinners there for like seventy ish
people at a time. In Beard's own parlor and former bedroom,
he had a mirror on the ceiling above his bed
and one table now sits right under it. That doesn't
surprise me at all somehow, not one bit. The food

(30:15):
is all cooked in his own apparently cramped and slightly
ill equipped kitchen, and it's considered something of a rite
of passage, or at least a useful publicity stunt for
American chefs.

Speaker 1 (30:28):
Aside from that, the foundation offers scholarships and educational programs.
To date, three point five million dollars has been awarded
to culinary students. And I'm sure a lot of you
have seen the James Beard certification or heard the phrase
James Bard Award winning restaurant, possibly from me when I'm
talking about the Atlanta Airport. It has one. The James

(30:51):
Beard Foundation Awards were first given out in nineteen ninety
one and they're known as the Oscars of the food world.
And speaking of oscars, I thought I'd Silence of the
Lambs one best picture that year.

Speaker 2 (31:03):
So many things about eating and enjoying yourself exactly.

Speaker 1 (31:06):
Right, perfect, It seemed important and also worth noting. More
relevant is that these awards were first handed out pre
Celebrity Chef Days and for the most part, pre Internet days,
so it was a way of recognizing chefs behind the scenes.
Nominees for the first awards ceremony were alerted via telegram
and some had not a clue what the Jay's Beard

(31:29):
Foundation was. These awards got started with the help of
some funding from two companies we've discussed before on the podcast,
Joseph E. Segerman's Sons and Champagne Pierre Jouette. For transparency,
an awards committee was set up independent and separate from
the Beard Foundation, and each year regional judges are judged

(31:50):
to make sure they're eligible. They had to demonstrate knowledge
of the industry and sign affidavits that they didn't have
any conflicts of interest. Members and staff at the Beard
Foundation do not vote.

Speaker 3 (32:01):
They aren't allowed to.

Speaker 1 (32:02):
The ceremony has become quite the spectacle. Oh yeah, real,
big yeah. In two thousand and five, then Foundation president
Lynn Pickell, I can't believe that's actually his name, had
to resign due to a criminal investigation, and the awards
were almost caught off.

Speaker 3 (32:19):
Almost.

Speaker 2 (32:20):
Yeah. There's all kinds of buzz about, like embezzlement and
weird stuff. It was most of most of the newspaper
articles I wrote about it were like, James Beard would
really appreciate all the drama going on about his foundation.

Speaker 3 (32:33):
I bet he would. I bet he would.

Speaker 1 (32:35):
The chair of this year's James Beard Award Committee is
Atlanta chef and Quatrano.

Speaker 3 (32:41):
By the way, she has a restaurant in this very building.
Oh yeah.

Speaker 2 (32:44):
They do great work around time, around town, around time
and town. In twenty eleven, a playwright by the name
of James Still premiered a one man stage show about
Beard called I Love to Eat. It's been run on
various stages, and reviews have tended to not be particularly shining.
But I am just tickled that Beard finally got to

(33:05):
return to his first love, the stage.

Speaker 3 (33:08):
And it was called I Love to Eat you know. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (33:12):
In twenty seventeen, PBS released a documentary about Beard called
America's First Foodie.

Speaker 1 (33:17):
In twenty twenty, the James Beard A Public market will
open in Portland, Oregon.

Speaker 2 (33:22):
Hypothetically, hopefully. The project has seen a number of difficulties,
but its mission is to provide the type of year round,
daily public market of products from local farmers and wineries
and breweries and restaurants, with permanent vendors and some temporary
stalls and restaurants and a teaching kitchen. It sounds like
a really nice thing. It does, and uh, I'm that

(33:43):
for clemped thing again. And okay, part of it might
be because I was researching a lot of this, like
late at night drinking rose from a can. But Beard
was this amazing and vibrant personality, and really, I think
the visionary isn't unfair, or you know, at the very least,
he was just very in tune with the next big

(34:04):
thing and very savvy about marketing it. A friend of his,
Joe Baum, described Beard as someone who cooked the way
he dressed. He would combine plaids, stripes, and prints and
it worked, and he'd do the same with food, and
I just I feel like Beard was born fifty years
too early for himself and yet exactly when America needed him.

Speaker 3 (34:28):
Oh that's lovely, Lauren.

Speaker 2 (34:30):
Well, thank you.

Speaker 3 (34:30):
The Rose and a can served you well.

Speaker 2 (34:32):
Thanks.

Speaker 1 (34:35):
I'm frantically trying to think of one last children's movie
your reference, but not that many of them feature rose
and a can, so I don't know why me. And
that brings us to the end of this classic episode.

(34:58):
We hope that you enjoyed listen to it, whether it
was the first time or who knows how many other times,
as much as we enjoyed it. Yeah, and if you
have any thoughts about this, we would love to hear
from you.

Speaker 2 (35:10):
Oh goodness, before we tell you how to do that,
I did want to give y'all one quick update that
James Beard Public Market that we mentioned being aimed for
opening in twenty twenty did not manage to open in
twenty twenty due to the pandemic, but they do currently
have an online directory of local food producers called Oregon

(35:31):
Taste that seems really cool, so check that out if
you'd like to. If you especially if you're in the area,
it won't really do much good if you're in for example, Atlanta.
But yeah, Las Glass a lac Glass and listeners.

Speaker 3 (35:45):
If you have checked it out, Oh yeah, yes, please
let us know.

Speaker 1 (35:49):
And yes, you can contact us via email if you
would so desire or is hello at sabrepod dot com.

Speaker 2 (35:57):
Who are also on social media. You can find us
on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at saver pod and we
do hope to hear from you. Save is production of iHeartRadio.
For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, you can visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.
Thanks as always to our super producers Dylan Fagan and
Andrew Howard. Thanks to you for listening, and we hope

(36:18):
that lots more good things are coming your way.

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Anney Reese

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Lauren Vogelbaum

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