Archive | September, 2013

Giving Back with Chef Tell

29 Sep

When I sat down at the dining table in Chef Tell’s house in 2004, I did not know what his cooking would taste like.  He had insisted upon making me breakfast, even though it was only about six in the morning.

He told me, “I will cook you breakfast; it’s no trouble,” despite my attempts to decline his initial offer. Eventually the futility of telling a master chef that you didn’t want to trouble him with making you breakfast, seeped into my foggy brain, so I shut up and  waited.

“Do you like ‘frittata‘,” he asked. Not waiting for my answer, he had the fresh ingredients selected and cooking in the pan before I could change my mind.

Vaguely guessing that I knew what a frittata was — some kind of a quiche, I thought — I replied, “Sure” and let it be. I would find out soon enough not only if I liked frittata, but if I liked Chef Tell’s rendition of the dish.

Within seconds, the aroma of fresh garden vegetables mixed with eggs and fresh herbs of his choice filled the adjoining kitchen and our nostrils. Within minutes, two plates of the finished dish were placed before both of us.

Tell was that fast in the kitchen.

“Bunny tells me you are on a business trip…” he steered the conversation.  Over the course of about forty-five minutes we talked about his marriage to my sister, business matters, living on the road, food (of course) and selling (what I did) — whatever easily came to mind for a world-class chef and a nationally recognized salesman.

If you had been there watching us, you would have seen two men talking over breakfast, but more went on than met the eye. A rapport and communion of souls emerged over those eggs and vegetables; some kind of spiritual connection that just never departed.

I knew, for my part, that our conversation made me feel like he really cared about me. I had heard that he had a way of making his acquaintances feel important, which was true.  He deflected the spotlight away from him and onto others because, as I discovered later in my research of the man’s life, he was intensely interested in learning as much as he could about people and the things they did.

Chef Tell was more than a sponge for knowledge. He gave back to the communities and circles that he moved in, often delivering new versions of what he had encountered earlier; that was his style. His outside-the-box renditions played more like anecdotes, and he let you take or leave his words as you chose.

What he took in, he shared in the spirit of education and entertainment.  His gift was to teach that way. Combining elements of show business with the tenets of basic cooking made for better television and interesting live food demonstrations at the many road shows where he appeared over several years. They also made for a fascinating biographic story.

The thought occurs to me now that others who met him briefly, perhaps more briefly than my one breakfast with him, might also have walked away with that same feeling of importance.  I guess you could call it more correctly a “confidence.”  Chef Tell instilled confidence. He put a little bounce in your step, which, though you might not have expected it, might come in handy one day in a crisis. Kind of like the Pied Piper, he left bits of information gleaned from harvested relationships he gathered along his pathway through his lifetime on this earth.

Reflecting back on the last 30 months of my life devoted almost solely to research and writing his biography  gives me a new jolt of that confidence he instilled in me. I sense a peaceful satisfaction at having accomplished a new level of exposure for each of our lives, which is making me feel closer to this man.

While Chef Tell’s story will reveal to his legions of Baby Boomer fans more about the man than they ever knew, it will also expose my professional and personal life to the same kind of  public scrutiny that I know he never became accustomed to, yet endured. In ways I have yet to understand, my connection with Chef Tell will draw more deeply from the wells of the different emotions we plumbed together as the book progressed from concept to hard-won words published on paper.

Unfortunately, whatever comes to me from that union might make me miss him even more than I do now. Or at least, miss the opportunities to sit down more than once with Tell and converse with him.

I guess those who read his biography, and I, will just have to make do with what’s left for us in the pantry of our lifetimes before we shove off for new shores.  I guess that also leaves us to fashion our own ingredients into our “Chef’s Specials of the Day,” much the way Chef Tell did: one day at a time.

I wonder what we will make of them, you and I?

Chef Tell hi res cover

© 2014 by Ronald Joseph Kule. Reserved.

Master Chef, Chef Tell DVD OFFER!

26 Sep

CHEF TELL is on a lot of peoples’ minds these days. The biography of his life reads like a timeless tale of overcoming one obstacle after another on an improbable journey toward a stardom that was almost beyond his beliefs. Certainly he could not have known that his likeness and words — let alone his cooking tips, lightning speed with sharp kitchen knives, and rapier-like wit — would become household conversation pieces around the country back in 1976, when he stood on a park lawn and auditioned for an experimental, national TV segment, barehanded and script-less.

The master chef was our first “rock-star” chef. As many as 20,000 Baby Boomer would-be home cooks crowded into Baltimore’s convention center on one weekend just to watch their TV hero cook and entertain in five shows.

(An infomercial of the “lost” Chef Tell shows on DVD will be operable on October 1st — be sure to come back to this link then!)

Chef Tell will again be seen on-air, at least in the Philadelphia area, at first on October 1st… and, who knows, the magic that syndicated his name and image around the nation more than once may strike again. Chef Tell may appear on the air around the country, if all goes well.Chef Tell hi res cover

A lot of the buzz has to be the book.  Chef Tell’s brother-in-law, Ronald Joseph Kule, spent a couple of years of his life researching and writing the life-story of the American kitchen icon. He wanted to leave a legacy for one of his sisters, who married Tell and was his most intimate companion for more than 25 years.

The 452-page, hard-cover book includes 70 photos and NEW CHEF TELL RECIPES, besides the DVD offer in print. There is even a “posthumous gift” inside from the master chef himself: a seven-course dinner suggested and designed to please any palate.

You’ll probably laugh a little, cry a little and even sigh a little reading this meticulous book, but you will walk away more certain that your own dreams can come true with a little luck and a lot of persistence after you journey through Tell’s life and times… those heady days when a renaissance of the culinary arts that captured the nation’s eyes and ears through the magic of television began in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, home of one of its most ebullient personalities, Chef Tell.

© 2013 by KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.

BOOK SIGNING EVENT WITH THE AUTHOR

19 Sep

Come meet and greet the author!

On Saturday, October 5, 2013, from 2:00-5:00 P.M. at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Clearwater, Florida, author Ronald Joseph Kule will read and sign book copies of his latest book, CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, forewords by TV hosts Regis Philbin (“Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”, “LIVE! with Regis & Kelly”) and Chef Walter Staib (“A Taste of History” PBS TV series).

Chef Tell hi res cover

Chef Tell Erhardt was a national TV phenomenon. 40,000,000 Baby Boomers – more than Julia Child – tuned in to syndicated TV segments of “PM Magazine” and “Evening Magazine” three times weekly to watch him cook and entertain. He appeared regularly on popular TV shows hosted by Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, John Davidson and Phil Donahue, and others.

Chef Tell, a Tampa Bay resident in the late 1990’s, appeared with local host, Jack Harris, on “The Jack Harris & Company Show” and cooked on-stage at the Plant City Strawberry Festival.

Kule’s hard-cover book, published by Skyhorse Publishing (NYC), 452 pages with 70 photos, also contains NEW Chef Tell recipes, is available now in pre-release online and through retail.

In Chef Tell’s name, the author has pledged a portion of royalties from book sales to Iron Chef Cat Cora’s 501(3)(c) non-profit, Chefs for Humanity, “ to help raise awareness and provide resources for emergency and hunger-related causes.”

Order books now through the store or online and have them signed by the author… GREAT GIFT for the Season!

BARNES & NOBLE STORE

23654 U.S. 19  Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 669-1688

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