James Beard is a legendary American chef and culinary teacher, writer, and TV host, who has inspired many American celebrity chefs that came after him.
He hosted America’s first TV cooking show called, I Love to Eat; wrote over 30 cookbooks; started cooking schools; and traveled all over the United States and the world, as an ambassador for American cuisine.
James Beard and Julia Child are probably the most widely known American chefs of the 20th century.
James Beard was born and raised in Portland, Oregon in the early 1900’s. I was just in Portland, Oregon a few weeks ago.
It’s very different now than when James Beard was growing up, but if he were still around today I bet he would enjoy how the city has grown and changed - especially in its support of great, gourmet food and local suppliers.
James Beard was not a professionally trained chef. He learned how to cook at home when he was growing up, and he always loved and had a gift for food and cooking. After growing up in Portland, he traveled in different parts of the USA and Europe as a theatre performer, before he finally settled in New York, where he got serious about food and established his culinary career. He believed that food should taste great and make people happy.
He was passionate about educating Americans about the best foods; eating produce in-season; using the best cooking techniques; creating delicious recipes; and to appreciate, be proud of, and support the food products that are grown and raised here in the United States.
After James Beard died, Julia Child and other friends and supporters, decided to honor him by turning his house in Greenwich Village, New York into a landmark gathering place where special events and dining experiences take place. It is an honor for a chef to prepare a meal and for a guest to dine at the James Beard House.
It is also the headquarters for the James Beard Foundation. James Beard’s memory and culinary missions are kept alive through the foundation, which supports every aspect of America’s culinary world. They sponsor amazing events that feature America’s best chefs and gourmet dishes; educational conferences; programs that support professionals in all areas of the food industry; provide scholarships and internships for student chefs; and of course, in May of each year, they present the famous James Beard Foundation Awards.
These awards are the “Oscars” of the American culinary industry! Honors and awards are given for every category possible - individual chefs and restaurants; restaurant designers; cookbook authors, food writers, and photographers; TV programs; humanitarian and lifetime achievement; and every category in between.
The James Beard Foundation reminds Americans that we have a lot to be proud of in the culinary world, and to respect those who work in every part of the food industry.
It also reminds us that we have a responsibility to take care of all the food resources that we are so fortunate to have in our country; and to use those resources to provide healthy, happy lives for everyone.