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Notable names in cooking show history?

I have limited knowledge of cooking shows. When I first started paying attention, it was Jacques Pepin (sometimes paired with Julia Child - I guess they were reruns) and The original Iron Chef.

Many of the currently available shows seem unwatchable.

What are the names, major or minor, that shaped, for better or for worse, the current crop of TV shows before the genre's popularity exploded?

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  1. I remember my mother watching Chef Tell and the Galloping Gourmet along with Julia.

    I began watching when Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, was hitting his stride. In my mind, THAT was when the genre's popularity exploded.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Carrie 218

      Jeff Smith was definitely the one that brought me in. The first cookbook I bought was his Three Ancient Cuisines cookbook.

      1. re: Carrie 218

        Chef Tell was the greatest. And I love the Swedish chef

        1. re: Carrie 218

          I miss that crazy old pervert.

          I hated his show at first, but I was looking for a cookbook in a store with a limited supply, so I bought The Frugal Gourmet. I learned so much about food from that cheap little unillustrated paperback. I also saw just how passionate that man was about his food. I liked him a lot better on TV afterthat.

        2. Graham Kerr was a pioneer. I also remember seeing Craig Clairborne (sp?) on talk shows. Of course Julia was the creme de la creme.

          9 Replies
          1. re: bryan

            Julia wasn't exactly known for her cooking talent, was she. You have to give her a huge credit for influencing so many people, of course. I am curious about the truly talented invisible ones that never made it.

            1. re: grocerytrekker

              Julia Child not known for her cooking talent? You have to be very young (well, to me anyway). Julia Child was the very first cooking show carried nationaly on PBS in the 1960s. All others came AFTER her. And yes, she could cook. It wasn't until her later years when it was probably too fatigueing to do all of the lifting and work required that she did shows in which she was the host and others cooked. Before Julia Child, there were only cookbooks.

              1. re: Caroline1

                I recently took out some videos of shows of Julia Child in black & white shown on PBS in the 1960's from my local library. She really was quite a character. And with a lot of energy beating a pound of butter to "soften it". And her comments were delightful. I then took out an anniversary edition of her first cookbook and also the A&E Biography about her.
                Her later shows were not as good. But we all age don't we. She was the pioneer and I appreciate her for that.

                1. re: Caroline1

                  I just want to go ahead an correct your greatly incorrect statement: "Before Julia Child, there were only cookbooks."

                  You need to look up James Beard and Dione Lucas, just to name a few. Last time I checked, the 1940s happened before the 1960s, and I am tired of hearing about Julia Child with the first cooking tv show when that is very incorrect.

                  1. re: PremiumG

                    Well, she may not have been the first. My response to that is, Apple wasn't the first computer to have a mouse, either.

                    1. re: TroyTempest

                      Madeleine Kamman is the REAL French chef...............

                      1. re: TonyO

                        Yes, just ask her, she'll be sure to tell you on NO uncertain terms... A wonderful writer, an excellent cook and teacher, but a most unpleasant woman - imho.

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          unpleasant is an understatement--a real beeotch from france is more like it

                          1. re: geejudy

                            I somehow missed these posts.......I can tell you from personal experience, Mrs. Kamman is charming, gracious, and very thoughtful

            2. Frugal Gourmet, Yan Can Cook, Julia, Jacques, Maria Esposito

              1 Reply
              1. re: jenniebnyc

                among all of them, Yan Can Cook is possibly the most famous internationally. When i traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia and prepared dinner for my friends, they said "Yan Can Cook, so you can!" . amazing!

              2. We used to watch Justin Wilson on PBS every Saturday morning. "C'mere, onion!"

                3 Replies
                1. re: revsharkie

                  Is that the guy who would cook giant vats of gumbo with oneeongs?

                  1. re: grocerytrekker

                    That was the best food show ever. Rachel Ray should watch Justin Wilson for pointers. I loved it when he made "Cajun Cheese Toast": melted velveeta on white toast spread with margarine.

                  2. re: revsharkie

                    Yep, I loooooooooved me some Justin Wilson's Loosyana cookin': "that's goooooooood." "Ongyons". Then, Martin Yan, Graham Kerr, Jeff Smith.......

                  3. Yes, I GAR-UN-TEE! Frugal, Yan, Graham, Julia were all from way earlier days.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: personalcheffie

                      Those were great episodes...! It was kinda like watching cooking meets cartoons. Justin Wilson reminded me a bit of Foghorn Leghorn http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/P/...

                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        Perfect analogy, Foghorn Leghorn with a frying pan and pot of seafood gumbo! God, I miss Justin Wilson!

                      2. re: personalcheffie

                        Yes, these were all greats but "early days?" My gosh, I feel old now. Let's think back to the days when Graham Kerr and Julia Child didn't necessarily rule, because cooking shows were relegated to odd hours on obscure channels, but set the new tone of cooking. No more boxed mixes! Knives that don't stay sharp forever! And real people making real messes and real food!

                        1. re: rockycat

                          The good ol' days were when these chefs used to knock a few back while the show was on! Oh my! Graham was a stitch.

                          1. re: rockycat

                            re the early days: Maybe a better way to say it would be "pre-Food Network."