Food Film to Watch: The Life of James Beard

Many are familiar with James Beard from his columns and books, or perhaps the eponymous foundation, founded in his memory, whose mission is “to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.”

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A new documentary, James Beard: America’s First Foodie, tells the incredible tale of his life and gives Beard the credit he is due.

Decades ahead of his time, Beard hosted the first cooking show on TV in 1946, before most Americans even had televisions. He was a taste maker, a true original, the author of dozens of cookbooks, an educator, the first to create a seasonal restaurant menu, and an advocate of local, sustainable, and American food. There is no way to imagine the food world as it is today without his pioneering contributions.

James Beard introduced Julia Child to New York, boosting her place as a culinary grande dame. Child in turn once said, “I may have brought French cooking to America, but Jim brought American cooking to America.”

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Cover art from United States of Arugula, with James Beard at the center.

Filled with luminaries from the culinary scene, the documentary paints a picture of a witty raconteur with a huge capacity for enjoying life.

If you missed the May 19th premiere on PBS, you can watch the hour-long film at pbs.org. We highly recommend it!

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Ariane Daguin in the James Beard House kitchen, D’Artagnan 25th anniversary celebration.

Without James Beard, there would be a very different food culture in America today. As a contributor to that culture, D’Artagnan has been supportive of the James Beard Foundation, and we fondly recall the great party at the James Beard House during our 25th anniversary celebration. Ariane, our founder and owner, is proud to be a JBF Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America winner, and a member of the Awards Committee.

 

6 Comments Add yours

  1. m37bruce says:

    Excellent, glad I watched, now I’ll watch again with my better half, Dorothy!

    1. D'Artagnan says:

      Glad you enjoyed it – we hope Dorothy will, too!

  2. Suzanne Douglass says:

    I am lucky to have two Beard cookbooks: “Theory and Principles of Good Cooking” and “:The New James Beard.” The latter’s not so “new” having been published in 1981 – when I got it. But what a joy. There’s a recipe for everything you could possibly find in the US. I yank it out often when in doubt. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to secure addition copies to give my friends.I guess it’s put of print. Schade. God bless James Beard.

  3. m37bruce says:

    Suzanne, Have you looked through Amazon’s offerings?

  4. I am lucky (and old enough) to have known Jim and celebrated his craft with him with fine wine from time to time. His portrait looked over me and my fiance at our marraige ceremony in the Beard room at the Four Seasons. An unforgetable man and the pioneer of America’s fine cuisine frontier. Thanks Ariane and cheers frm Millbrook.

  5. D'Artagnan says:

    Thanks for sharing that, Peter. And yes, what great luck you had to have known him. There will never be another like him!

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