Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A True Original

"The Galloping Gourmet" Graham Kerr

He's in my memory as far back as I can remember, and especially on those days I'd come home from school, throw my books down, and flip my way through to his light-hearted, fun cooking show on the TV dial. No doubt, those were the days of the * original * talk show/reality TV formats. Yes, it's true what they say kids...there is absolutely nothing new under the sun. And he, along with the late great Julia Child (who revolutionized it all) were, in fact, the two iconic "it" factors in the pre-Food Network days -- of yesteryear.

Well known British chef and TV host Graham Kerr filmed this Australian remake of The Galloping Gourmet TV show in Canada, which at that time was produced by his wife, Treena Kerr. Back then, in a far less health conscious society than that of today, Kerr and The Galloping Gourmet were known for its high jinks, humor, and the generous use of wine, clarified butter, cream, and fat. And yes, his most famous line on the show just might have been his response to someone's criticism of his cooking: "Madame, you could go outside and get run over by a bus right now, and just think what you would have missed"! Kerr also liberally featured a variety of wines, serving them with most meals, drinking them while cooking, using them in his dishes, and waxing stone-cold poetic about the "virtues of the grape." During The Galloping Gourmet's successful run, Kerr became a worldwide sensation, wrote several cookbooks, and earned two Emmy nominations. Sadly, the show ended in 1971 after a tragic car accident that left him temporarily paralyzed.

When additional tragedy set in with his wife Treena's heart attack in 1986, Kerr was prompted to create a new style of cooking that he called "Minimax". This new food stressed aroma, color, texture, and taste over fat. Minimax led to two successful cookbooks: Graham Kerr's Smart Cooking and Graham Kerr's Minimax Cookbook .

And until this very day, along with his very first publication, The Graham Kerr Cookbook which holds a prominent place on my cookbook shelf, his zany antics of galloping onto his 1970s cooking show set to a wild applause from his studio audience, and his tastefully well-constructed recipes, will remain a part of the memories I treasure the most.

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