EVER WONDER WHY CHEFS WEAR WHITE COATS?
“Marie-Antoine Careme, a popular French chef, is credited with developing the current chef’s uniform. The toques (tall white hats) were already used, but he sought a uniform to honor the chef. White was chosen for the chef’s coat to signify cleanliness.
“Later, the French master chef, Georges Auguste Escoffier, brought the traditional chef’s coat to London, managing the restaurants at the Savoy Hotel and then at the Carlton Hotel.
“Chefs wear cooking aprons for several reasons; one is that they deal with a variety of food ingredients for many hours each day and have to have a means of keeping their clothing free from dirt, stains and odors.” (excerpted from Wikipedia re: chefs’ uniforms)
Friedemann Paul Erhardt — CHEF TELL — was a Master Chef from Germany, who became America’s pioneer TV showman chef in the 1970’s. His celebrity spanned decades. His story is captured in the biography available online and in bookstores worldwide, CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, by Ronald Joseph Kule, forewords by TV hosts Regis Philbin and Chef Walter Staib. Published by Skyhorse Publishing (NYC). (Recipes included.)
If 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.
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
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.
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:
“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.)
© 2014 by Ronald Joseph Kule. All Rights Reserved.
|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 Chef, by Ronald Joseph Kule. The other foreword is by TV host Regis Philbin.
“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])
Late 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.)
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!
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.
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.