A Slower Pace for TVs "Galloping Gourmet
On Monday, January 9, 2017 at 2:26:48 PM UTC-8, Travis McGee wrote:
A Slower Pace for TVs "Galloping Gourmet
By KIRK JOHNSONJAN. 9, 2017
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. He injected extra fat into already well-marbled
roasts, with a grin and an ever-present glass of wine. He laughed
uproariously at his own jokes, and told Americans that cooking at home
did not have to be particularly sophisticated or difficult (Julia Child,
the only other major TV chef of his era, had pretty much staked out that
turf anyway) to be wild, and wildly fun.
But always, Graham Kerr leapt. Decades before Emeril Lagasse shouted
Bam! in administering a pinch of cayenne or garlic, Mr. Kerr defined
the television cook as a man of energy and constant motion The
Galloping Gourmet, as his shows title put it.
Starting in 1969, in front of a live audience (another pioneering step,
long before the Food Network arrived) Mr. Kerr lassoed America into the
1970s with the novel concept that watching someone cook was, first and
He was hunky and British and funny, and in that heyday of the sexual
revolution, he could titillate audiences with a one-liner about
circumcision while peeling a cucumber. The media christened him the
high priest of hedonism.
His trademark gesture of cheerful abandon came in the first few minutes
of every show, when he sprinted into the audience, armed with a glass of
wine, then ran back and leapt over two dining-table chairs and onto his
set without spilling a drop of the wine (thanks to plastic wrap across
the top). He invariably ended by slumping into his chair with a little,
Today, at 82, Mr. Kerr is more measured. His leaping days are over, but
he still speed walks every morning from his house here, an hour north of
Seattle, where he lives with his daughter Tessa and her husband.
He still cooks, too, but will not make himself a hamburger because he
believes that two ounces is plenty of meat for a meal and, he said, you
cant make a decent two-ounce hamburger.
Finding that place of moderation, though, was hard. In the 1970s, Mr.
Kerr lurched from indulgence to asceticism and a denunciation of excess,
including his own. Only gradually and with age, he said, did he find his
way to a middle ground that allows for some prepared foods, cooked with
minimal fat or fuss.
Wouldnt one love to think that one always has wound up with the middle
way, and is now leading a perfectly balanced life? he said, laughing
and looking out over the Skagit River valley, which he fell in love with
years ago because he could see water and mountains and farms all from
one perch. But I had much distance to go, he added quietly.
There is little doubt, fans and cultural historians say, that Mr. Kerr
helped define a certain corner-turning moment in America. He wasnt the
first male chef on television: James Beard got there in 1946. The run of
The Galloping Gourmet was also relatively brief; CBS canceled the show
in 1971 after a car crash in which Mr. Kerr and his wife, Treena, were
badly injured, requiring a long recovery.
But in a time of profound anxiety and change the struggles over civil
rights and the Vietnam War were raging as he sprinted onto his set Mr.
Kerrs upbeat message resonated. Even when he flubbed some kitchen
maneuver, and perhaps especially when he flubbed, he reassured his
audience that it was going to be all right in the end.
It was more than hedonism, more like just joy, said Kathleen Collins,
the author of the book Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of
Television Cooking Shows. He didnt seem to worry at all about either
the nutritional content, or the whole gestalt of drinking in the
kitchen. It was all just about creating a kind of fun atmosphere.
As a serious cook, Mr. Kerr was on shakier ground. A former White House
chef publicly disparaged him, and the New York Times television critic
Jack Gould wrote that Mr. Kerr mixed the informality of the Automat
with food brought over from the Four Seasons.
But for many fans, his mark was indelible.
Bill Fountain, now a high school teacher in Dallas, was barely 5 when
Mr. Kerr began galloping. Mr. Fountain said his mother was ill in those
years and his father was working two jobs, gone most of the time. Mr.
Kerr made cooking seem like something a boy could do.
He made a huge impression on me, Mr. Fountain, 52, said in a telephone
interview. I really love cooking, and I think that passion and that joy
of cooking came from Graham.
Mr. Fountain, who produces a fiction podcast with a narrator who solves
mysteries involving food, still regularly cooks Mr. Kerrs jambalaya.
There was this beautiful human quality to him, Mr. Fountain said,
something he also saw in Ms. Child. He dropped stuff, made mistakes,
spilled the oil, but he would always make it O.K., and to this day, I
think, how wonderful a thing to instill.
Mr. Kerr grew up in the kitchen, the son of hoteliers in southern
England, but he was an adult before he first made the connection between
cooking and entertainment. He was working as a catering adviser to the
Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1960, when he suddenly had to fill in for
an officer who was to conduct a cooking demonstration. Making an omelet,
he also made his audience laugh. A TV cooking show in New Zealand, and
then Australia, soon followed.
In his half-hour Galloping Gourmet segments, taped in Canada and
broadcast in the United States between weekday soap operas (and seen in
most British Commonwealth countries as well), the focus was on meat and
a lot of it, often as not larded with cream. Vegetables were mere garnish..
The pace was frenetic, and not just on the set. In a kind of travelogue
that linked food and foreign cultures a precursor to Anthony
Bourdains globe-trotting food programs Mr. Kerr went around the world
28 times by his count, stopping to master specific dishes that he could
then teach his audience.
I used to love watching him. He was an entertainer as well. I remember one segment where he made eggs benedict but instead of canadian bacon or ham he used a filet mignon.
Of course he let some audience members taste it and swoon..... LOL
He lives a few miles South of me. For a while, a few years ago, he was a chef/consultant for Haggen Foods (a local upscale grocer) and did original recipes for their deli salads and soups.