I have been drawn to cooking shows on television for ever. One of the best things about staying home sick from school was wathcing Julia Child on PBS. So, there was no way I was going to miss the Culinary Historians of NY event about the history of cooking shows on television. While the discussion of the very earliest shows such as James Beard’s “I Love to Eat” and Dione Lucas was interesting, the appearance of a slide of “The Galloping Gourmet” caused my nostalgia to rear up on its hind legs.
For those of you who don’t know, “The Galloping Gourmet” was the affable Brit Graham Kerr. It hit the airwaves in 1969 and blazed a new trail in culinary broadcasts. Instead of being strictly pendantic, the show capitalized on Kerr’s natural comedic abilites to overtly incorporate entertainment in a cooking show. It was the first cooking show to have a live audience. This was used to maximum effect as cameras caputured the audience’s reaction to Kerr throwing in another pound or so of butter or taking a “slurp” from his ever present wine glass. It seems that Emeril was a big fan of this show as well.
The discussion of this show transported me back to being 6 years old again. I would lay on the carpet in front of our console TV, taking in all of Graham Kerr’s antics. Watching the show was a family affair, I enthralled by the banter and the energy, Dad studying the cooking and Mom studying Graham Kerr. Dad would often try out some of the recipes he gleaned from the show. Usually, the TV fantasy was better than the kitchen reality.
“The Galloping Gourmet” only lasted for a few years on the air. Graham has returned to TV a few times, but his later shows never quite had the elan of the original. “The Galloping Gourmet” did set me off trotting along my personal gastronomic journey, and it did take cooking tv off on a new entertaining bridal path.