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Have You Read the CHEF TELL Biography?

22 Oct

click photo for author-signed copiesIf you have read this book and liked it, and wish to help sell more copies for the author, please click on the link and go to the Reviews area on the page and post a comment and how many stars the work deserves.

Thank you.

http://www.amazon.com/Chef-Tell-Biography-Americas-Pioneer/product-reviews/1626360049

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.

CHEF WALTER STAIB CELEBRATES 20 YEARS AT CITY TAVERN RESTAURANT

13 Jun

NOTE: The following press release announces a milestone for Chef Walter Staib, a friend of Chef Tell’s. Chef Staib wrote one of the two forewords for the biography, CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chefby Ronald Joseph Kule. The other foreword is by TV host Regis Philbin.


Greetings!

CONTACT: Molly Yun, City Tavern Restaurant, 215-413-1443myun@citytavern.com

www.citytavern.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CHEF WALTER STAIB CELEBRATES 20 YEARS AT CITY TAVERN RESTAURANT

Chef StaibPHILADELPHIA – June 10, 2014 – It is with great pride and honor that we announce that Chef Staib celebrates his 20th anniversary as proprietor of City Tavern restaurant in Old City Philadelphia. A landmark and part of the Independence National Historical Park, City Tavern is the most authentic 18th century dining experience in America.

City Tavern, named “one of the most iconic restaurants in America” by Zagat, the restaurant rating company, consistently wins the award of excellence from TripAdvisor, the travelers’ review site.

Not only a destination restaurant for Philadelphians and visitors, City Tavern plays an important role in educational trips. Thousands of school children visit the restaurant annually and experience a meal as the founding fathers did, while learning about the Colonial Era of America.

Staib’s dive into operating City Tavern led to many extraordinary things. His historical research for the menu led to a passion to preserve American culinary heritage through a cookbook of City Tavern’s most popular traditional recipes. Chef Staib is now the author of six cookbooks.

Dining guests, who loved the stories behind the 18th-century recipes, inspired Chef Staib’s PBS cooking show A Taste of History, which has won four Emmy Awards and a James Beard nomination.

“City Tavern led me on a journey I never could have dreamed I would be on, and I’m incredibly grateful to have operated it for 20 years,” Staib said.

As a business owner in Philadelphia, employer of hundreds of people and mentor in the food and beverage industry, Chef Staib maintains his love for this special restaurant. When Staib took over operations in 1994, he wanted to exemplify 18th century customs by bringing back farm-to-table cuisine, baking bread daily and offering ingredients that are traditionally local to the area. He renovated the kitchens, added a pastry and bake shop, recreated the wine cellars and larders, and began serving authentic to the era of the building cuisine.

“I poured all my resources into researching menus, recreating the parts of the building not already complete and making this as magnificent as it was when it originally opened,” Staib said.

Colonial Server

City Tavern first opened its doors in 1773, when Philadelphia was the largest, most cosmopolitan city in British North America. In 1774, members of the First Continental Congress used it as a gathering place. Thirteen years later, the Constitutional Convention held its closing banquet here. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and others whose names have become an integral part of history enjoyed its hospitality. John Adams once called it “the most genteel tavern in America.”

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How to be a Proud Master Chef and Cook for Celebrities

31 May

     “In short order, the number of Tell’s celebrity friends and acquaintances expanded.  Among them was Yul Brynner, the actor born in Russia and educated in China, who performed The King and I more than 4,200 times.  He was a demanding guest with a penchant for one particular type of Washington State apple, which Tell took the trouble to find and keep on hand for him.  Princess Margaret, the unpretentious Royal—her only peccadillo was fresh mint in her red wine—who found Tell’s storytelling as charming as his cooking, said, ‘Whatever you would like to cook for me would be well-suited to me, Chef.’

” Tell’s days at the Barclay were numbered, however.  The relationship between Tell and the General Manager of the hotel broke down over minor disagreements, which lead to one incident that gave management reason to part ways with Tell.

“’I walk through the dining room in my chef’s uniform, and this is the greatest disgrace that ever happened in the history of the Barclay.’

“Tell was particularly proud of his uniform, ‘If I walk around like this, people think I’m a doctor because I’m dressed all on white, and they see a thermometer sticking out of my short pocket. It’s a meat thermometer.  And I go everywhere in my uniform.  If people don’t like it: tough.  Somebody calls me to a party, wants me to come over for an hour, I go dressed like this.  I drive to work like this. I move around like this.  I shop like this.  I am a chef, this is my uniform—this is a part of me.'”

(excerpted from Chapter 20 of “CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef,” forewords by TV hosts Regils Philbin and Chef Walter Staib. [Skyhorse Publishing, NYC])

BUY THE BOOK!

author at Barnes & Noble Booksellers Signing Event

CHEF TELL Lifetime Discussed on PCN-TV

5 May

pcn-tvLate in April 2014, the author of the biography, CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, Ronald Joseph Kule, visited the Philadelphia bureau of PCN-TV (Pennsylvania Cable Network-TV) to tape a show segment of PA BOOKS, at the request of network President and CEO, Brian Lockman.

Another guest participated: Chef Walter Staib. Staib, proprietor of Philadelphia’s iconic City Tavern, who wrote one of two forewords to the biography — the other is by TV host Regis Philbin — was a friend of (the late) Chef Tell (Friedemann Paul Erhardt).

The author had asked Chef Staib to come to the taping to add historical perspective to the commentary, and he did not disappoint, also bringing anecdotes and fresh strudel for the whole crew. (Staib is the host of the Emmy-winning TV series, A Taste of History.)tj-walter261x362

During the hour-long taping, host Lockman interviewed Kule about his book, why he wrote it, and what it was like to research and write about such a renowned chef. Turns out that Kule was the late chef’s brother-in-law. He shared an anecdote about a breakfast that inspired him to write the book, as well as several other facts about the chef, including some of his famous quips.

40 MILLION BABY BOOMERS

Baby Boomer Philadelphians, a part of Tell’s fan base of 40,000,000 avid viewers, will remember watching Chef Tell on TV-show segments of Dialing for Dollars and Evening Magazine, and his guest chef appearances on the Mike Douglas Show, The Dinah Shore Show, the John Davidson Show and the Merv Griffin Show, among others. He was the chef who boasted he was the “fastest chef with knives in the East and the West” — a status he proved on one of his many appearances on LIVE! with Regis & Kathie Lee, by handily breaking the record for preparing and cooking a five-course meal… in under five minutes!

Chef Tell Manor HouseTell’s signature sign-off, “I SEE YOU!” was a household phrase for the three decades he appeared on television and in numerous live cooking demonstration shows in venues across America.

The book, CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, published by New York City’s Skyhorse Publishing, came out in October 2013, in hard cover, audiobook and eBook formats. Books are available through Barnes & Noble Booksellers, other store retailers, and online. Kule has garnered all five-star reviews to date.

The place to order author-signed, hard-cover editions for gifting is the author’s website. Included in the book are new Chef Tell recipes, as well as a DVD offer for Chef Tell cooking shows.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers Signing Event

Barnes & Noble Booksellers Signing Event – Author & wife.

PCN-TV’s PA BOOKS will air the one-hour show about the Chef Tell biography on Sunday, June 15, at 9:00 p.m.

YOUR COMMENTS AND REPLIES ARE WELCOME HERE (BELOW).

© 2014 by Ronald Joseph Kule and KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.

CHEF TELL America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, favorite of Baby Boomers

19 Mar

“Before Julia… before Wolfgang, Paul, Emeril, Jacques, Bobby, Mario, Gordon, Rachel, Jamie, Martin, James, Charlie, Thomas, Anthony, Alex and Cat* there was… Chef Tell!

‘Tell started all this television madness about chefs.’ – Regis Philbin

(* Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, Jacques Pepin, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Gordon Ramsey, Rachel Ray, Jamie Oliver, Martin Yan, James Scott, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, Anthony Bourdain, Sara Moulton, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and Iron Chef Cat Cora)

“FIVE STARS. FASCINATING, HARD TO PUT DOWN”
“It reads like a real life novel. I was surprised by the excellent writing ability of the author. Not only is it a chronological account of the life of one of the world’s greatest chefs and pioneer TV chef showman, it’s a series of word pictures that ties together the complexities of each aspect of Chef Tell’s life and career. It’s a “Must Read” for all Foodies especially aspiring TV cook or chef.”  — Chef Charles Knight

 

A Chef’s Life

11 Mar

I had come to the conclusion that no one else was going to write about the life of Chef Tell Erhardt and that I better do something about that. Not sure it was a worthy endeavor, because family and friends I’d met were in opposite camps about the man: some loved him, and others hated him, I wanted to research the facts and decide for myself. The easiest pretext was to work under the guise of writing his biography.

Research unraveled a few facts right away.

Friedemann Paul Erhardt, as his family and cohorts knew him, was the first syndicated television chef of nationwide prominence in America. He earned the job by winning an audition held in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square park in 1974.

Stepping up to the camera without script or props, Tell ad-libbed  a cooking demonstration, and the producers liked what they saw enough to give him the contract. When asked what might be his TV moniker, he quipped, “Eh, just call me ‘Chef Tell’.” Since childhood he’d been nicknamed “Tell” after performing the role of Wilhelm Tell in school plays.

Simple enough.

Syndicated television in those heady days of the industry could make someone a star in weeks. Such was the case when the newly minted Chef Tell hit the airwaves and millions of people saw him on their rabbit-eared, black and white TV screens: within weeks, millions of viewers started a commentary on the swarthy 6’3″ chef with a German accent as thick as his horseshoe moustache. His quick food tips, rapier-like quips, and the skilled flashes of his fast-moving knives had caught their attention, although roughly half of the viewers loved what they saw — his segment lasted only 90 seconds — and couldn’t get enough of him; the other half complained about not being able to understand him through his heavily German-accented English.

After all, it had only been two years before that a former Miss Philadelphia, Janet Louise Nicoletti, invited him to come to America after she became his fiance. The only person with whom he spoke comfortably at the time was Nicoletti, since he didn’t know English.

In no time, thousands of recipe requests rained on unsuspecting TV station mail-room departments.As the media struggled to handle the deluge, which had mounted to a steady 10,000 or more weekly, Chef Tell’s image traveled from region to region, picking up more and more Baby Boomer fans along the way. Soon, Tell was on tour for months at a time, conducting cooking demonstrations in large public venues, and making live television and radio appearances. His popularity spread like wildfire. He was even mobbed at airports.

Chef Tell was, in fact, America’s first “Rock-Star” chef. He was also a real chef, named Germany’s “1970 Chef of the Year” the same year he passed his final cooking-school exams and led his team of six chefs to the Gold Medal at Germany’s Cooking Olympics.

Goldmedaille 001His personal signature dish, Schweinepfeffer Mit Spaetzle, also won the Gold Medal.

But I digress.

In December of 2011, my sister, Bunny Erhardt, now a widow since Chef had passed away in 2007, acceded to my request for access to her friends and acquaintances, and permission to write Tell’s biography.

Embarking on my quest to discover whether this man was worthy of my time as an author or not, I developed a three-part outline loosely fitted to the early-, middle- and latter-years of his lifetime — a beginning, middle and end to the story, if you will.  As data gathered on my desk and on my sheets of papers surrounding my work area, I fit these into the corresponding sections of that outline. Eventually, a timeline list of major events took shape, which would become my main guide to my work.

As people’s names popped up within the information about Tell’s life story, I jotted these down and notched a mark each time the same name appeared. The list soon directed me to certain individuals who would become subjects of interviews I hoped to conduct for personal anecdotes and to qualify some of the data which, in some instances, added up to conflicting accounts.

In other words, fact and fiction overlapped more than a few times — not that the proverbial “truth is stranger than fiction” was happening, but either the subject of my book had lied to the press, or journalists had researched their article facts poorly or not at all. The toughest part of my work in researching this book was sifting the actual facts from the widespread panoply of continued falsehoods among articles, media interviews and the chef himself!

1975 officeTell

My first in-person interview came in Philadelphia in the administrative office of Georges Perrier, a contemporary of Chef Tell and one of the Top Five premier French chefs in America. Truthfully? I had never conducted a live interview with anyone before as a writer. Sure, I had met and sold many business executives in the financial and healthcare industries in my previous incarnation for the last 18 years — working in marketing sales internationally, but this was my first interview with my “Author” hat on my head.

The questions asked were never a part of my notes. Perrier had agreed only to 15 minutes at first — not much time to request more than a simple, “Tell me, chef, what was important about Chef Tell?” If any more time passed, I would wing it, follow my instincts.

Perrier was a wonderful interview. He waxed on about his friendship with Tell, and I wrote highlights on my pad of paper, letting my small recorder capture the actual phrases and nuanced details for later playback. I prodded infrequently and only to let Perrier loose. In the end, the clock had flown by for over an hour, and we were hugging, perhaps with a hint of tears in our eyes — he had not known that Nicoletti had overdosed years earlier. His summation of the woman said it all succinctly, “Mon dieu, I did not know this. I knew this woman; she was simply tall, bright and beautiful.”

Downstairs, having had to shell out a twenty-dollar bill to retrieve my rented car from the union-run, Philly parking garage, I made a mental note to bring enough change to feed the street parking meters at all future interview meetings. I also rewarded myself that evening with an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich, figuring that would be the worst of my gauntlet of interviews I would have to pass through toward completion of this book.

Philly cheesesteaks

I was on my way, proud that I had struck out on this course, because Perrier, a man at the top of his profession — the same one as Chef Tell’s — had confided in me two significant morsels: “Chef Tell was a giant of a man. I miss him. I loved him,” and “You know, maybe I’ll have you write my biography, because I like you. But, of course, it would be a very naughty book!” (His remark made us both laugh, which further broke the ice between us, making for a more intimate repartee from that point; also giving me reason to reply, “Georges, perhaps you should wait until you read my book on Tell; you may not think I can write a book well.”)

Each interview and turn of the discoveries unearthed in my quest to find out if I would love or hate the man who was Chef Tell, pushed the work inexorably toward a completion. The details, however, will have to wait for the next installments of this blog.  Sprinkled among them will be never-released, new Chef Tell recipes that Baby Boomers and cooks of all ages will want to prep and cook in their kitchens.

To ensure you receive the next installments, please comment and follow this blog site.

© 2014 by Ronald Joseph Kule and KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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