'I Love to Eat:' PBS to air documentaries of culinary legends
Food enthusiasts can look forward to a quartet of documentaries from PBS' excellent American Masters series under the collective subtitle of Chefs Flight, starting Friday, May 19, with a new film on James Beard, followed by an encore presentation on the late French chef legend Julia Child.
This week's and next week's documentaries will air starting at 9 p.m. on PBS Hawai'i.
James Beard: America's First Foodie looks into the life of the quintessential American cook. He hosted the very first cooking show on NBC television way back in 1946. Although not a big hit back in the day, he did introduce Julia Child to New York, where Child would become a very successful TV personality in her own right as "The French Chef." Beard was also a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement. He spoke of the importance of localism and sustainability long before those terms had entered the vernacular.
Following the Beard documentary will be Julia! America's Favorite Chef, made right after her death in 2004, tells two love stories: one between Julia and Paul Child, the other between Julia and French food. The charismatic Child was a pioneer in public television's long tradition of cooking programs, revolutionizing the way America cooks, eats and thinks about food.
The iconic Jacques Pépin is interviewed in the Beard documentary and is the subject of his own documentary the following week, May 26, followed by the encore presentation of Alice Waters and Her Delicious Revolution.
Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft tells the story of the young immigrant with movie-star looks and a charming Gallic accent who elevated essential kitchen techniques to an art form. Not content cooking in French palaces, where he was the personal chef to three French presidents including Charles de Gaulle, Pépin's American journey took him through the kitchens of Howard Johnson's, bringing his commitment to great taste, craftsmanship and technique to American popular food.
The 2003 film on Waters shows her through a year of seasonal shopping and cooking. She and her now-famous restaurant Chez Panisse became a major force behind the way Americans eat and think about food, launching the explosion of local farmers' markets and redesigned supermarket produce departments. Distressed by the food she saw in public schools, Waters started an organic garden with an integrated curriculum at the Martin Luther King Middle School near her house, an idea inspired by The Garden Project at the San Francisco county jail. The idea of an Edible Schoolyard has now spread across the U.S. and inspired similar programs worldwide.
Waters is considered an activist with a flawless palette who has taken her gift for food and turned it into consciousness about the environment and nutrition, and a device for social change.