“James Beard: America’s First Foodie” Launches “Chefs Flight” on American Masters

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17 May 2017
James Beard: America’s First Foodie
Courtesy of PBS
American Masters “Chefs Flight”
James Beard: America’s First Foodie
Friday, May 19, 9 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listings)

          The James Beard Foundation Award is the most coveted honor in the American food industry. It is often referred to as the “culinary Oscars.” But what do we really know about the man whose name has become synonymous with culinary excellence? The new documentary, “James Beard: America’s First Foodie,”  chronicles a century of food through the story of the man behind the medal, the iconic cookbook author, journalist, television celebrity and teacher.
American Masters “Chefs Flight”
Courtresy of PBS
          Experience a century of food through the life of one man, James Beard (1903–1985). Dubbed the “Dean of American Cookery” by The New York Times, Beard was a Portland, Ore., native who loved and celebrated the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. He spoke of the importance of localism and sustainability long before those terms had entered the vernacular. At a time of “all things French,” Beard appreciated what America had to bring to the table, and was the first chef to go on television to teach not only women, but men, how to cook. A cookbook author, journalist, television celebrity and teacher, Beard helped to pioneer and expand the food media industry into the billion-dollar business it is today.
American Masters “Chefs Flight”
Continues with “Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft”
Friday, May 26, 9 p.m. on PBS
(Check your local listings)
          The culinary journey of American Masters “Chefs Flight” continues with a profile on Jacques Pépin, a young immigrant with movie-star looks and a charming Gallic accent, who elevated essential kitchen techniques to an art form to become one of America’s most beloved food icons.  “Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft, is narrated by Stanley Tucci.
Jacques Pépin
Jacques Pépin: Kevin Byrne / Courtesy KQED
          Pépin, the second of three sons, was born in 1935 in Bourg-en-Bresse, near Lyon. The film traces Pépin’s journey from his childhood in the countryside of wartime France, where his family’s tradition of entrepreneurial women running homegrown restaurants propelled him into an early culinary career. At age 16, Pépin moves to Paris, initially without a job, and eventually works at dozens of restaurants learning about classical cooking. He trains under Lucien Diat at the Hotel Plaza Athénée where the emphasis is on technique.
          In New York, Pépin lands a job at Le Pavillon, the most influential French restaurant in the country, and soon meets the three people he calls the “Trinity of Cooking”: Craig Claiborne, food editor of The New York Times; James Beard; Julia Child. In later years, he partners with Child on a television series, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, for which he and Child win a Daytime Emmy in 2001.
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