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What ever happened to Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet? I know! Pick me!! Pick me!! Apparently he’s quietly living in Seattle, Washington. I found myself wondering about him recently. He and Julia Child were probably the first people I saw cook professionally. I diligently watched him on his T.V. show, The Galloping Gourmet when I was ten to thirteen years old. The show ran from 1969 to 1971; I watched it most everyday when I came home from school especially when I was a bit older. I learned two things from Mr. Kerr: what a gourmet was, and that gourmets liked to drink. I have fuzzy memories of him in his T.V. studio, glass of wine in hand as he tipsily stirred a pot, or made a cake. I didn’t know until later that his fun, silly mood was due in part to the wine.
A Gourmand is Born
From him I somehow knew I wanted to grow up and be a gourmet myself. I tried to be one as a child (minus the wine). My mother can attest to the fact that I always ordered, or attempted to, the most expensive, exotic dish on the menu on the rare occasions we went out to a “nice” restaurant. I’m not sure when the tradition began but each of my birthday celebrations from age twelve on involved going out to eat at a fancy restaurant. A “gourmet place.” I remember the first time I ordered and ate lobster. My mother was a bit appalled at both the dish and the price but she let me order it anyway. I now trace this all back to Kerr, his glass of wine, and his T.V. show. I mean he even had a foreign, sophisticated accent. What was a young gourmand to do?
*Picture below: Kerr began each episode of The Galloping Gourmet by running onto the stage and jumping over a chair on the dining room set. It became his signature move.
As I mentioned, I’d been wondering what happened to him. Unlike Julia Child, it seemed he’d disappeared. I knew he was British so I thought he might be living back in the U.K.. The answer came in a Seattle Times article published on February 19, 2011, “Chef Graham Kerr Gallops into Edible Gardening.” He’s now 76 years old. He and his wife Treena live in Seattle, and he recently planted his first-ever garden. The idea to plant the garden was born from a local church group that Kerr is involved with. The group became interested in the farm-to-table movement as a way to help heal a few societal ills. Their goals are to “eat wisely (more plants); move more (to gain stamina); and know your neighbors (their needs and their wisdom).” Kerr saw that a kitchen garden would both keep him in shape, and offer extra produce to pass along to food banks and those in need.
The Missing Pieces
The Galloping Gourmet originated in Ottawa, Canada and was produced by Treena, Kerr’s wife. The “galloping gourmet” persona came from a wine book Kerr co-authored with wine expert Len Evans, The Galloping Gourmets. The nickname came from a 35-day worldwide trip the duo made to the best restaurants around the globe. As The Galloping Gourmet Kerr was known for “lighthearted humor, and tomfoolery” and for using copious amounts of butter, cream and fat as well as liberal amounts of wine both in the food and in his glass. The show was a huge success but everything ended in 1971 when Kerr was temporarily paralyzed in a car accident. A show he did in 1974 called Take Kerr only lasted one season. When Treena became seriously ill in the mid-80s the Kerrs started to lead a much healthier lifestyle. Kerr has written numerous cookbooks dating to 1963; those in later years reflect his healthier food outlook. As The Galloping Gourmet he not only influenced this young gourmand but a nation of T.V. viewers both those interested in cooking, and those who liked watching his bigger-than-life persona. He made the idea of cooking fun, and entertaining.
The Galloping Gourmet can now be found on The Cooking Channel.
Sources for this article: The Seattle Times, and Wikipedia.
100 Miles Shout Outs! Local events, mini-reviews, and mentions of things happening in the world of food:
#1 – Monday, February 28, 2011 ~ 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. ~ Street Food Mondays with ‘Antojitos de Mi Abuelita’ Food Truck ~ hosted by Bill Esparza and Evan Kleiman at Angeli Caffe, 7274 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 323-936-9086
My Status: Still enjoying winter in So Cal and the lovely winter produce: amazing citrus, kale, broccoli, collard greens, beets and fennel. Continuing to blog, cook, and eat.
I’m published!! My recipe “Chef Wally’s Baked Papaya” was selected to be in the cookbook: “Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook: 100 Great Recipes, Photographs, and Voices.” You may order it here.
Upcoming Posts: More on my great-grandmother’s garden, and my California childhood. A visit and tour of Ojai Valley citrus grower Friend’s Ranch. More The Local Reports coming soon. Cookbook Reviews: “The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook” by Rachel Saunders, “Grilled Cheese, Please! by Laura Werlin, and “Italy Dish by Dish: A Comprehensive Guide to Eating in Italy” by Monica Sartoni Cesari.