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Give It Up for The Galloping Gourmet


Chris Amirault
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Pan's post in the "Childhood clues that you'd become a foodie" thread got me thinking about Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. Moreso even than Julia Child, Graham Kerr was the television superstar chef when I was growing up.

A lifestyle guru long before Martha, Kerr was really the only male in late 60s/early 70s popular culture who demonstrated any interest in the pleasures of kitchen mastery. It's probably not a stretch to say that, when I was a boy, no one was a man the way that the Galloping Gourmet was a man, and I'd not have taken to the kitchen myself without his verve, style, and gusto.

Nowadays, few save Jane and Michael Stern (in their criminally overlooked American Gourmet) give Graham the props he deserves. Even eGullet is shamefully lacking a thread devoted to the flambé fanatic, he who never stained his plaid and pleated rayon slacks, the man with the pan, the one, and only, Galloping Gourmet.

Get out of the closet, Kerr acolytes, and share with us your memories, thoughts, and debts.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Get out of the closet, Kerr acolytes, and share with us your memories, thoughts, and debts.

oh thank goodness! when i first saw this topic i thought he had shuffled off this mortal coil.

Graham Kerr was the first cooking show i ever watched, as a 7-year-old boy, and whoa, was he debonair. :smile:

from dumping prodigious quantities of wine/cognac/whatever into nearly eveything he prepared, to his (just short of) lecherous eye when inviting the ladies from the crowd to sample the cuisine, the Galloping Gourmet is etched into my food-related consciousness.

i saw him a few years ago, promoting (i suppose it was inevitable) lower fat and lower sodium cooking, on another show perhaps. and while this is admirable and a sign of the times, i prefer to remember him drenching everything in butter and brandy, like in the good old days. :biggrin:

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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I used to be a fan--i watched a lot.

Kerr had a great sense of humor and never took himself or food too seriously.

I enjoyed him immensly.

Also-

I have caught him recently--maybe reruns of his diet conscious show.

(I do not know if these were new/recent episodes).

One classic story he told was searching out a place for the perfect onion soup in Paris. It was priceless!!!

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If you are in your twenties, thirties, or forties now, you may well have missed the bonvivant who was Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. He was quite the cook and charmed the ladies with his protechnics on the set as he cooked with all manner of alcohols and heavy fats.

He and his wife, Treena, his producer at times, found religion which gave their lives meaning apparently but he also changed his entire method of cooking for his wife Treena when she had an early heart attack, diabetes, and general poor health issues. Look on the right side of the page for a link to the FPS (food preference sheet)

A good husband, an excellent cook, and one of my televised culinary teachers .. an inspiration as an individual ...a bit of the Kerrs' background ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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As a child growing up in the 70's and in love with food from early on, I used to watch the Galloping Gourmet, along with Julia, Madeline Kamman and Pierre Franey. I loved watching Kerr, his food looked rich and great and he was zaney (later I learned he was often a bit tipsy as well, but hey, at least he was genuine).

I am well aware that Kerr had health issues later in life and he resurected himself as a healthy cooking advocate. That is all well and good, but as a result, I can't stand to watch him anymore. If there are those that enjoy him now, then I am happy for them, but he swung too far in the other direction in my opinion.

I preffer Julia's health advice, enjoy all foods, but everything in moderation. One can still maintain a healthy diet without following the stringent methods Kerr uses. Cooking with egg substitutes and non fat cheeses? No thanks. Eat in moderation and excersise regularly, then one can be healthy as well as enjoy the pleasure that comes from eating good food.

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I'm here to tell you that he didn't just charm the ladies. I loved the guy. And, what's more, there are several people who just wouldn't exist had they not watched GG obsessively.

For example, Emeril should send residuals for his FTV show to Kerr simply for the snarky little asides he makes, particularly ones that link food and sex (or, as we called it in the 70s, "sensuality"). Even the opening of "Emeril Live" is pure Kerr: just as Emeril does, Graham would literally bounce out from behind that exposed brick and waver back and forth, grinning and glowing in the applause. "Kick it up a notch"? That's what Kerr did when he tossed a 1/4 cup of brandy into the skillet and flambéed whatever the hell he was sautéeing.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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In addition to finding all the flambees impressive and fun, I liked the Galloping Gourmet's liveliness. He was a lot of fun to watch, and I know that many of my 1st- and 2nd-grade classmates as well as the food service workers in the lunchroom at my public school enjoyed watching his show during lunchtime.

I enjoyed Julia Child, too. I don't know whether I really learned that much about cooking from either of them, but I liked their enthusiasm and joie de vivre before I knew any French expressions like that. :biggrin:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Interesting to wonder whether he taught people about cooking....

I definitely learned the press test for doneness from Kerr on GG. I thought it was wild that his fingers were so sensitive, until I learned how to do it. (The idea that you shouldn't butcher a chicken breast prior to serving it to see if it's done was not shared by my mom.) And, as the Sterns argue, Kerr made a case for trying new techniques, tastes, and ingredients. Yes, Julia was doing the same thing, but she stuck mainly to French cooking for a long while, whereas I remember Kerr making a borscht that seemed stunning to me.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I loved watching this show growing up. The man was a lecherous tippler, but knew how to make the subject fun and interesting to watch. Never took either himself or the food too seriously.

There was a line of Galloping Gourmet products that included bottled spices that were what I remember in my mother's spice rack as a wee kitchen helper.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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He was a tippler you say.. Now I'm really impressed with the knifemanship he would frequently show off.

GG oozed as much as the butter but he is and was truly an original.

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He and his wife, Treena, his producer at times, found religion which gave their lives meaning apparently

More than apparently. I no longer remember the details but I think they did a lot of work with YWAM (Youth with a Mission), a (religious) foreign community development organisation (fancy talk for "missionaries"). My sister and brother-in-law were involved with YWAM and I remember the Kerrs involvement as well (or I think I remember it...getting old really sucks).

Lots of food-related stuff to talk about when you get into foreign community development! That old "teach a man to fish" stuff and all...

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I seem to recall that in New Zealand, he had a 100 % television share. I'm not sure if I am using the right term, but he is the only person ever to do so.

wow--so are the Kiwis total afficionados of the butter and brandy school of cooking? :smile:

because if so i'm moving there. now. :biggrin:

i also remember him as being the first "tv chef" who i saw put an unfinished plate into a bottom oven, then magically (i was about 7-8 years old, okay?), he'd take a finished plate out of the top oven.

that was showmanship.

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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From the bounce-down-the-aisle to that last grinning-around-a-mouthful moment, GG is a winner. And somehow I remember his carrying in an umbrella on his entrance every day, hanging it up somewhat like Mr. Rogers and the sweater and shoes routine.

We loved his zest in the cooking, his delight in his own merriment, his bright-eyed lusty joy in the tasting and sharing and feasting. He talked non-stop, chopping and stirring and sticking a finger into all the sauces; his twinkly little legs in those pipestem brown trousers ran and bounced and skipped around the kitchen.

His sense of humor was just racy enough, with entendres which whizzed over the heads of his younger fans, of which there were legion. And Butter Stocks must have gone up a thousand points during his tenure---he used it and clumped it into everything, smearing it in with a heavy hand; he advocated it in everything except Jello.

But our all-time best moment was the STORY---there was one every day, just a few moments of a tale while he chopped and stirred. And our favorite, remembered and still repeated on occasion by our whole family to this day, was the sad-but-uplifting tale of TUH-key Guhl, a singled-from-the-flock turkey which was a family pet. She seemed to have free run of the house, with concentration on the kitchen. She had her own HIGH-CHAIR, for Heaven's sake, where she sat and pecked up her dinner as everyone else was having theirs.

But alas, one day, when a great crop of berries/plums/grapes had fallen to the ground and fermented, the flock got into the mix and all fell dead from over-consumption or alcohol poisoning, take your pick. The parents sadly plucked and dressed each lifeless body, mourning their own dear Tuh-key Guhl as they worked. But just as they finished plucking out her tailfeathers---a miracle! She miraculously awoke, and staggered drunkenly around the floor, off-kilter from her binge and bereft of her tail-feather rudder.

The family rejoiced, and Mom, feeling sorry for the poor cold little thing, knitted her a little outfit, a red coverall with a bonnet to match. So there she would sit, a full-grown turkey in a highchair, her little red bonnet bouncing as she pecked up her dinner.

And that's my best memory of Graham Kerr. Bless his dear, inspiring, naughty heart. :wub:

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Aw, gosh, I loved his stories. My mom considered him "JUST SO..." I think she was absolutely gaga (okay to be in those days over him). What is real weird is I remember him from going out to CA and staying at one of my grams', and the other mustsee everyday was the Gypsy Rose Lee show. I know nobody else to speak of has seen that, but it was real, and great.

Katie, we not only had the complete spice kit, we had SPURTLES till hell wouldn't!!!

The man was absolutely in the front of the pack with his wacky 8mm movies from Austria, Belgium, Asia, etc.That was '67 or '68 as far as I can recollect.I have caught some very old ones on cable. Can't recall where now.

Raise a glass to the salt of the Earth. :smile:

Edited by Mabelline (log)
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I remember watching the Galloping Gourmet with my mom when I was a little kid. I don't remember much about what he cooked, but I do remember loving the show, as did my mom. Haven't thought about that for many years.

I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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Wow, what a deluge of memories this topic has released! I grew up in NZ, where, in the late 60's, the Galloping Gourmet was king of the black and white airwaves! That anyone could have so much fun in the kitchen, be so enthused by his milieu, and have so many "little slurps" in front of the camera was groundbreaking stuff for many of that boomer generation.

His market share was indeed enviable, but consider that there were only 2 TV stations in NZ at the time, and you get a better perspective! His on-camera antics were infectious, and strangely appealing not only to the myriad of housewives with little domestic stimuli other than Womens Weekly, but also to many husbands who were emerging from post-WWll deprivations to enjoy the limited bounty of native produce and protein. My father loved the show, and it was GG's liberal pours and obvious delight with wine that turned Dad's tastes to the fruit of the vine.

Graham Kerr was in the RNZ Air Force, having migrated from England. He came to television after leaving RNZAF, well grounded in the London City and Guilds methodology and having had exposure to some of the finer foods of the times (olive oil was not to be had in any stores we visited at the time!) in the Officer's Mess. His flair was mold-breaking in those days, NZTV of the day being a staid version of the BBC! He was imitated ad nauseum in years to come, and only one other TV cook came close, a down-to-earth, matter-of-fact housewife called Alison Holst.

The first thing I wanted to do upon leaving school was join the RNZAF! I was sure that was the path to fortune and good food. I didn't, but nevertheless followed a culinary career, due in no small part to the antics of the GG. There were several in my college class who were similarly influenced, and coincidentally had strong predilections for that "little slurp".

I admire the healthy approach Mr Kerr has adopted to his food, though its not my market. The message is great, but the delivery lacks that Kerr flair!

Vive the Galloping Gourmet!

John

"Venite omnes qui stomacho laboratis et ego restaurabo vos"

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Home sick from school? GG was the highlight of my morning as a child! Now, as an adult, not only do I love those original recipes but I really groove to the hip 70s pots/pans and serving pieces he uses. I have a modest collection of mid-century modern, some of which I first saw when he used them on his show. Catherine Holmes pieces come to mind, but I can't say with any real certainty.

He was so hip, so naughty (especially to the 10-12 year mind).

They used to rerun the original on Food Network, very late at night, as I recall and once, during a bout of insomnia, I watched him make a souffle-like omelet that looked just delicious. I got up the next morning, found the recipe online and had it for lunch that day. It was yummy!

Cheers to Graham Kerr!

Stephanie Kay

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From the bounce-down-the-aisle to that last grinning-around-a-mouthful moment, GG is a winner.  And somehow I remember his carrying in an umbrella on his entrance every day, hanging it up somewhat like Mr. Rogers and the sweater and shoes routine.

    :wub:

I don't recall the umbrella, but he seemed to make his entrance running, skipping and jumping, all the while holding a glass of wine in his right hand. After he had jumped over something, he would take a sip from the glass, and put it down in his work area. He never spilled, but I always wondered if there were outakes with a few mishaps.

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  • 8 months later...

Missed this thread the first time around. I loved watching him while growing up. He and Julia rivaled for my affection back then.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Kerr drunk - fabulous. Kerr sober - BORING. I can't even watch him now. But in the good old days he had me hooked.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Lascivious is the first word that springs to mind when I recollect GG..that and the uproariously funny "um-gala-gala" story. At least in our family that is how we remember it. I cannot precisely recall if it was a story of bat guano or bulls testicles and does it really matter?

Food is art, spectacle, sometimes lusty and sometimes slutty but always theatre. GG's legacy for me was the notion that dinner was far more than food. Bon vivant, racconteur -nourishment is so much more than a plate of something. Plus he always sat at table and used linens and flatware with confidence.

He engaged us with his cooking and then re-engaged us and a few lucky audience members with the results. Who wouldn't want to be a dinner guest of Graham?

He inspired me to throw dinner parties and I mean parties! Complete with stories some ficticious others not and whoops of laughter and groans of pleasure -everyone replete and spent and gently brushing the last crumbs of whatever off of each other.

For me, only Nigella Lawson has come close to his panache. Especially her earlier series when she visits the fridge for leftovers. While she is not as bouncy as GG she is literary and I bet a great time at dinner!

I guess my bias is that I really don't get excited by cooks\chefs who aren't enchanted by their food and completely unable to resist it as it is being made!!:wub:

Oh and I'm ok with the drinking too!

And I agree the sober reformed version of GG is quite sad. I mean if he can't get excited about quinoa who can?

Life! what's life!? Just natures way of keeping meat fresh - Dr. who

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As a young man he inspired me to cook---I made his paella--my first gourmet dish and went from there. He used good stuff and was fun. Cooking with him was fun!! Alas he was so much more fun before he quit drinking-- he uses more charts than USA TODAY. I miss him

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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