I Wrote the Biography of A Dead Chef

27 Jun

Why I Wrote My Book

I wrote the biography of a dead chef. I had good reason to sit down and write a biography of a dead chef, because he had been my brother-in-law. His real name was Friedemann Paul Erhardt, but his television persona — how people knew him on TV and at live cooking demonstrations around the country — was CHEF TELL.

Confession & Redemption

230,000 copies sold

1982 Best-seller Cookbook

The plain truth is that the rest of my family knew Chef Tell when he was alive much more than I. At the time of his greatest involvement with our family, I was travelling extensively across North America and I never attended many family functions that he attended. One thing I did know, though, was that part of our family loved him, the others hated him.

Chef Tell caused that reaction wherever he went. He was not meek, quiet or timid about what was on his mind. He was tall (6′ 3″), hefty (250 pounds), and he had a thick German accent. In other words, he was a commanding figure with a no-nonsense presence and a precise manner of living his life among the rest of us. You had to either love or hate him; you could not ignore him.

Tell also had a rapier wit and loved to make people laugh, which he could do easily. He loved to teach people to cook, which was his way of giving back. If you let him get inside of you, or you got inside of him, you would become fast friends.

The truth about Chef Tell was that he had a heart of gold.

Christmas party with staff at the Manor House

Christmas party with staff at the Manor House

The Fastest in the Kitchen

And he was competent in the kitchen. He was intelligent and fast with his (custom) knives and food preparation. Other chefs stepped well away when time was short, and meat had to be carved up and prepared for diners expecting nothing less than the best, who knew that Chef Tell was in the house.

Tell once beat all other timed records on the LIVE! with Regis & KathyLee show for prepping five courses in under five minutes!  He had boasted that he was “the fastest chef with knives in the West” on an earlier appearance, and Regis challenged him to prove it. Chef Tell won the contest. No one has since broken his record over more than 10 years.

But… back to why I wrote my book

I sat down and took about two years out of my life to risk writing a biography of a man I hardly knew well, because he made people feel like they were important. In a few words: he was a larger-than-life personality who left behind a fan base of 40 million Baby Boomers; legacy that all TV chefs today emulate; and a vacuum for those who had worked with him in the business of cooking.

Tell’s lot was to blaze the trail for celebrity chefs on TV — he was the pioneer. He left us too soon. With the rest of us wondering if we loved or hated him, and people wondering what had become of him, I had to write the biography so that his place in culinary history would not be forgotten.

“Chef Tell started all this television madness about chefs.” — Regis Philbin, Emmy-winning TV host

I simply had to find out for myself if I loved this guy or hated him. The result of my quest to answer that obsession is my book. Readers have been pleased to spend their time with it. To date, all reviews have been five-star.

Here are two:

chris gibson book“This book is excellent and well-written,”Chris Gibson, author of Acne Free in 3 Days ~ How I Cured My Acne Condition in 3 Days ~ No Prescriptions… No Over-the-Counters… 100% Natural 

walter staib“It’s a well-written book. The author did such a job. It reads extremely well. You pick up the book and you don’t want to put it down. There’s good information here, and it shows people at the end of the day that life is full of surprises.”

― Chef Walter Staib, Emmy-winning TV show host of A Taste of History on PBS, and SuperFoods with Chef Walter Staib; operator of City Tavern in Philadelphia.

Perhaps, you will want to read my book, too. Author-signed copies of CHEF TELL, The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef are available on my website.  The hard-copy edition is 452 pages, 70 photos, with 7 new recipes. This is also available in all bookstores on their shelves or by request, and on their web sites in all the usual locations. The Audiobook and eBook editions are available through Amazon.com online.

(PLEASE NOTE: A portion of all author royalties go to CHEFS FOR HUMANITY, a 501 (3)(c) non-profit organization founded by Iron Chef Cat Cora, in Chef Tell’s name. Chef Tell always gave back and paid forward what he was given.)

click to buy an author-signed copy

© 2014 by Ronald Joseph Kule. All Rights Reserved.

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