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SethG

Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet

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Quick... compare and contrast... the long-term cultural effects of Graham Kerr and Jeff Smith....

Graham Kerr a/k/a The Galloping Gourmet... No long term cultural effects. Coulda woulda shoulda but didn't. His self-loving food porn entertained housewives but he was basically a one note joke in the kitchen. His later efforts to re-invent himself into a health food guru were not successful. His big scandal--alcoholism & drug use...was sad but not particularly earth-shattering.

Jeff Smith brought the phrase "frugal does not mean cheap, it means not wasteful" into everyday parlayance and he was a big hit. Definitely not a sex symbol ala Mr. Kerr, the Frug seemed like an outsider looking in and took a fresh approach to a wide range of cuisine. In this way, he differed from Julia and Jacques, because he was no french chef. He introduced a lot of people to the joy of cooking. His scandal... whether proven or not in a court of law does not matter, in the court of public opinion it was strong enough to kill his tv career. The controversy on this thread proves...he remains an enigma.

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I think the show that cinched it for me (as far as my watching him was concerned back in the day) was the show he did on Filipino cuisine.

You have to understand that this is one of those cuisines that hadn't (at the time) been exposed much to mainstream audiences.  The Frug had an entire show devoted to the food of my native country.  I mean, wow.  I don't recall how the recipes sounded, but it sure was interesting to say the least.  :wink:

Soba

But he also made several whole series out of cuisine from other cultures, back when, and folks are citing them as competion, and god bless them, Jacques and Julia were his only competition and were doing mainly french and 'continental' cuisine. Back then, it was all PBS, no Food Network, so on a saturday AM, you might be able to watch "great chefs," "the frug", "Julia," and "Jack," but I don't think all four in the same era. But even so, he was the one, before Chan and Ming and Mario, who was saying there is some culinary value to items from other cuisines that Julia might not be talking about, and the great chefs of Geneva aren't using in their dishes. And it wasn't just the eastern things, it was items like pierogi and chorizo that simply were not known or appreciated at the time across the US to ordinary folks who would not of heard of them otherwise and might have gone blissfully through their lives without that knowledge.

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I somewhat dimly remember the Frugal Gourmet, and what I mainly remember about him is that he talked a lot and spoke quickly. I also remember that he seemed enthusiastic about food. I also remember him doing brief reports from places like Bangkok, where if I remember correctly, he would briefly introduce in some measure the diversity of food on offer. To the extent I watched him, I liked him.

The Galloping Gourmet was on around noon or so in the early 70s, when I was in 1st and 2nd grade. I used to enjoy watching his show when I was eating my lunchbox lunches in the lunchroom at elementary school (and I believe some of my schoolmates also liked his show). I don't remember much about what he cooked, but I was particularly impressed whenever he flambeed things. :biggrin:


Michael aka "Pan

 

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One thing I always remembered about Jeff Smith and the Boy Toy was that they visited many countries, but perhaps more importantly lots of ethnic markets in the States. As a culinarily sheltered Bostonian youngster, it was really interesting to see all these stores that were likely similar to ones near me.

He never really influenced my cooking per se (I watched the show before I really got into cooking and never bought one of his books), but I do think he pushed me and probably many others into venturing into our first asian, hispanic or italian markets.

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Quick... compare and contrast... the long-term cultural effects of Graham Kerr and Jeff Smith....

Interesting.......they both live in Northwestern Washington now.


Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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Quick... compare and contrast... the long-term cultural effects of Graham Kerr and Jeff Smith....

Interesting.......they both live in Northwestern Washington now.

I was at Graham Kerr's garage sale in Stanwood about a year or two ago. The man has clearly aged, and I think he may have had some significant health problems in recent years.


Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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I was at Graham Kerr's garage sale in Stanwood about a year or two ago. The man has clearly aged, and I think he may have had some significant health problems in recent years.

MG-- What was he selling at the garage sale???

I recall that he spent a year or so living on a boat with his family. Anything good 4 sail?

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By the time I had gotten there, things were pretty well picked over. Nothing very exciting for sale from the culinary perspective.


Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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*ahem*

I think it would be helpful if folks could please keep in mind that the topic of this thread relates to Jeff Smith the TV chef and cookbook author, not Jeff Smith the alleged pedophile. Please try to keep discussion on topic.

Thank you and regards,

Soba

I have all the Jeff Smith cookbooks, except one. During the 80s, when I was just learning to cook, his show and easy recipes helped start me on the the path to reproducing foods from other cultural traditions. I still use his recipe for spanakopita when in a hurry, and remember experimenting with the looed beef marinade. :laugh: While I seldom turn to his cookbooks these days, I am happy to have been introduced to many unfamiliar tools and ingedients through the show and books.


"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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Howdy Thursday. Welcome to eGullet, if nobody's said it yet. Great name by the way. I just started Well of Lost Plots.

I, too, must admit to having been a Frug fan back in the day. Lessee, how many wives ago was that? :shock: I was much less into food and cooking than I am now, but I always watched his show. I enjoyed the enthusiasm and the fun he seemed to be having. I still use a couple of recipes I adapted from Cooks with Wine. Looking back through the book now -- in light of increased knowledge and experience -- some of his recipes seem dated and a couple are outright questionable. But I have to admit that the Frugal Gourmet sparked my first real interest in learning more about food and cooking.

Chad


Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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I appreciate the welcome, Chad!

I wanted to add that I too, in common with several others in this thread, have fond recollections of several older cooking programs on PBS. Not only for the kick-start to my own passion for preparing food, but the fact that one received an entire half hour of commercial-free information!

PS. The next book comes out next March :smile:


"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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I learned a great deal by watching The Frugal Gourmet and using his books. To date, his recipe for Chicago Pizza dough is my favorite. Aside from that, his whole philosophy of food being more than just gasoline for the body really hit home with me. I think meals, both their preparation and their enjoyment, are an opportunity to reconnect with family. Not just shove crap down your throat at a drive through but take some time to prepare good food, then enjoy it together.

In any case, go to http://www.half.com . I'm sure his books are available for a song. I especially enjoyed The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American and Three Ancient Cuisines.

I really miss the Frug. He was salvation for all of us who flipped through our measley thirteen channels in search of that overhead shot of someone stirring a pot, prior to the advent of TVFN. I understand he's fallen on hard times and lives in Washington state.

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The Frug lost credibility with me when, after preaching, eh, frugality in the kitchen and insisting that one does not need a lot of fancy kitchen stuff, he pulls out a solid copper couscousier.

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Us Seattleites are often treated to the spectacle of Mr. Smith riding his scooter through the market, barking at people to get out of his way. I cannot say if he has the ability to stand and walk, as the last time I saw him do that was in 1995.


“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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yeah, it wasn't like he professed his man-boy love on the show...it was about cooking...as a young buck I watched him too, and when I heard what had gone on BEHIND the scenes I was taken back.

That's funny- when my friends and I caught it we always thought there was something going on with him and his young buck assistant. There was always something kind of pervy about him to me.

Yeah, me too, once I got a little older. Something seemed "off".

There were few programs that we were allowed to watch growing up. We could watch anything we wanted on PBS, though, which is why my first crush was on Dr.Who (the late 70's/early 80's one).

Anyway, of course since the Frug was on PBS, it was ok for youngins (dunno why we nevered watched Julia...maybe she got on my mom's nerves..mom was/is weird like that). I wasn't too interested in his food until I realized that some of the things he was making made my mom turn green. So I would squeal in delight as he made kidneys, or liver, or sausage from scratch, because I knew it was going to make mom want to be sick. Very amusing shit for a sadistic 4 year old.

It wasn't his cooking that inspired me to cook or experiment in the kitchen...no, that was a book called The Toothpaste Millionaire which began my experiments in food science. Note to everyone: turmeric and baking soda does not make a good toothpaste.

However, I lovedlovedloved the travel/market segments. My favorite game when I was little was to get my atlas and my encylopedias and plan trips to cities all over the world. I tried to learn to count to 10 in each language, learned major exports, and once Frug came along, I started getting very, very interested in the food of each city or nation. He really was the first person to show me food from all over the world other than the spaghetti with mushrooms that dad made when mom was working second shift.. And since our diet was pretty much limited to dried beans, cornbread, kraut and a few garden veggies, the idea of this whole world of food was very, very exciting.

So he may be a drunken pederastic bastard, but damned if he didn't get me interested in world cuisine.


Gourmet Anarchy

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Us Seattleites are often treated to the spectacle of Mr. Smith riding his scooter through the market, barking at people to get out of his way.

So THAT'S who that was a few months ago! Almost made me drop my sweet peppers, I was so startled!


Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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My favorite game when I was little was to get my atlas and my encylopedias and plan trips to cities all over the world.

This is still my favorite game!

I remember watching TFG. I had already learned the basics of cooking (and to love to cook) from my mother and her mother and sisters, but I do remember how thrilled I was by the look into other cultures. For explanations of techniques, classic dishes, etc., however, I much preferred Julia.

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Does anyone know how to e-mail him or contact him by mail?? I've always wanted to drop him a line.

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As for others, I met Mr. Rogers a couple of times growing up and always thought he was an ass.

Hold the phone there, fella.

Mr Rodgers was a kind sweet man. Meet him a few times, talked to him on the phone as well (my mom was an advisor on a book he was working on) and he was never, ever an ass.

He was a very kind gentle man.

no way....I've been in a restaurant with him, he ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, water with lemmon, sliced tomatoes and milk. He wrapped up 1/2 the sandwich to see if the "nice driver, who's been pointing out all the sites in your wonderful busy city" would like the rest..there is no way you could BS that..he is really that nice.

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I used to love the Frug show, and I have all his books (and still cook from them, from time to time, and very happily). I think what appealed to me so strongly was that he was the first person who made me understand that food was something you could THINK about, that it had a history and a context and a role in every culture. And that was (and is) really, really interesting to me.

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he was the first person who made me understand that food was something you could THINK about, that it had a history and a context and a role in every culture. And that was (and is) really, really interesting to me.

I agree. So much about the current state of affairs in Food Television is sad in its nakedly shill aspect, and back in the Froog's day, the focus seemed to be more about sharing other cultures. Having said that, my sister and I used to moulder around the house of a day on Saturdays while our folks went careening about Houston in the Olds '88 looking for antiques and overpriced brunch. We didn't learn very much in the way of cooking from our working parents on the weeknights, so this was our basic introduction to basic cooking. It might have been aiming low, but it was flying over our neophyte palates, and took our cooking skills beyond toasting marshmallows on a fork over the electric stove.

I will add that we sat thru a squirmy episode of The Froog cooking over the shoulders of three visibly uncomfortable boys about our age, and then we didn't watch so much anymore. Besides, there was also usually a Vincent Price Horror Matinee about that time, and we got way more mileage out of scaring ourselves silly with that stuff. Who knew who the real ghouls were back then?

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Who knew who the real ghouls were back then?

Food!

He was never found guilty of any wrong doing. (perhaps that ought to be in big bold letters?) And to boot, the leading complaintant (I think, I may need to re-research this to be precise) that brought suit for this alleged improper behaviour was also a former employee of his deli operation, with a documented personnel record of theft from Jeff Smith! So, add that grain of salt into the mix and give the man the benefit of the doubt.

My apologies, but I understand the legal system very well. Former employee caught thieving bringing suit along with fellow buddies for alleged impropriety....

</rant> :wacko:

I do appreciate the teachings of exploring other cultures and that food was more than cooking and fuel for the bod. That is to his credit. :smile:

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Who knew who the real ghouls were back then?

Food!

He was never found guilty of any wrong doing. (perhaps that ought to be in big bold letters?) And to boot, the leading complaintant (I think, I may need to re-research this to be precise) that brought suit for this alleged improper behaviour was also a former employee of his deli operation, with a documented personnel record of theft from Jeff Smith! So, add that grain of salt into the mix and give the man the benefit of the doubt.

My apologies, but I understand the legal system very well. Former employee caught thieving bringing suit along with fellow buddies for alleged impropriety....

</rant> :wacko:

I do appreciate the teachings of exploring other cultures and that food was more than cooking and fuel for the bod. That is to his credit. :smile:

I'm with you. I was always under the impression that in the US, the burden of proof was on the accuser. Those "grains of salt" of which you speak may or may not have been withheld because of the ages of the accusers.

Nonetheless, the career of a real cooking and food advocate, and a pioneer, was destroyed by this scandal.

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