Tag Archives: Chef Tell Erhardt

Amazon & the CHEF TELL Biography

4 Jun

A Good Book Rising

CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef

Lately, the book has been rising on the Amazon.com charts in ranking.  All on its own.  I do not know why.  Maybe people are reading it, trying out the recipes inside, and telling others about the incredible life of a German child who wanted to cook for the world… and did.

As the author of the book, I’m grateful for the following.  The all-five-stars comments and reviews posted to date are also appreciated.

This biography took two and a half years of my life to research and write, but the close relationship with the (late) chef — some kind of spiritual connection — made the hard hours and the multiple highs and lows worth the effort.

Like others who knew him better than I, I miss Chef Tell.  But his public misses the jocular TV personality; what I miss is the man, Friedemann Paul Erhardt, who cooked breakfast for me one time only… and made me feel special, so special that I had to write his life story when no one else stepped up to give the man his due as one  of America’s true culinary and television icons.

Chef Tell’s name and star should have been the first on Hollywood Boulevard (No disrespect to Bobby Flay’s recent accomplishment).  But for the high cost of the donation associated with getting a star — tens of thousands of dollars, he would have been the first and best choice.  After all, every TV chef currently in vogue owes their biggest tips of their toques to Chef Tell, because Tell blazed a trail no one ever had walked from the kitchen before : syndicated television appearances, Womens’ Shows cooking demonstrations, and scores of guest appearances on major TV shows of his era, including LIVE! with Regis & Kathy Lee.

Books Make Booms

chef-tell-tells-all-hermie-kranzdorf-paperback-cover-artMost don’t know that Chef Tell was also a best-selling author.  That’s because his cookbooks sold more than 200,000 copies.  If you used fresh ingredients and followed the Master Chef’s instruction, you could taste at home what over 40,000,000 Baby Boomers adored: Chef Tell’s cooking.

julia child cookbookJulia Child was his contemporary, and her fame rose because of a book and her personality.  Chef Tell’s fan base was reportedly EIGHT TIMES LARGER than Child’s, but today younger generations know Child because of the recent movie performed by Meryl Streep.  But the biography of Chef Tell reads like an emotional roller-coaster ride, making it a candidate for a very interesting movie!

Anyone out there in Hollywood want to take out an option to produce the film?  Baby Boomers would love to see it!

Since then the Chef Tell biography has been published to rave, five-star reviews. As mentioned above, this “evergreen” (endless) story has taken on a life of its own.  http://bit.ly/ChefsBiography for author-signed book copies

© 2015 by Ronald Joseph Kule, KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.

(NOTE to Non-Commercial Bloggers and Media: Permission to reprint and/or re-blog this article and its images is hereby granted as long as full attribution and a link to the original blog is prominently displayed.)

How to Make A Celebrity TV Chef

23 Apr

 Excerpted from:

CHEF TELL the Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef

INTRODUCTION

“Rezepte sind nur Rezepte … im Rahmen des Zumutbaren Sie sie ändern können.”

(“Recipes are only prescriptions … within reason you can change them.”)

— Chef Tell

http://www.amazon.com/Chef-Tell-Biography-Americas-Pioneer/dp/1626360049“The recipe for making a star-bound chef/restaurateur goes like this:

First, rise with the morning twilight. Visit the fish, meat and produce markets daily to ensure your menu and daily ingredients are as fresh as possible. Chastise your vendors, if needed, for quality slippage in your last order; yet, make them feel like they are part of your success.

Second, walk several miles daily within the same four walls. Regularly add water, salt, chicken stock and splashes of wine to foods and to yourself. Even though you know it will take a toll on your body, taste everything you cook.

Third, ensure that your kitchen wait staffs arrive on time, prepared and sober. Mix in your waitpersons, bartenders, hostesses and accountants. Keep them honest with your cash register – every day.

Fourth, bring the first, second and third steps to a boil by simmering under low heat in the first few hours of the day. Gradually turn up the heat.

Fifth, repeat the routine 312* days a year, year after year, despite how you feel, as long as you make your patrons happy. (* Six days a week)

Sixth, (optional) add a pinch of television and media notoriety to the slew of photos with celebrities draped around you on your walls. Voila! A celebrity chef is born.

For super-star ranking, add one more requisite: “Culinary genius: the capacity to take consumable ingredients and envision them into remarkable, repurposed foods, flavors and presentations; the capacity to be ‘avant-garde,’ innovative, iconoclastic, visionary and … in the case of Chef Tell … funny.” (Author’s definition)

Remember, superstar chefs never follow rules; they make their own.

Who was Chef Tell?

The night Friedemann Paul Erhardt (later to be known worldwide as “Chef Tell”) was born, bombs dropped and hunger was a constant. When suicide took his mother, and his brother was separated from him, he became a cook’s commis at 13½. For the rest of his life he was forced to work his way out of one predicament into the next, and then out of the next into another, as he blazed a trail on which other chefs would walk.

No chef-by-the-numbers road map existed in his era. Up to his time, master chefs, for the most part, stayed hermetically inside of their kitchens; yet, he ventured outside where very few – from America only James Beard and Julia Child – ever tread…

Erhardt credited his TV superstardom to his mother, Giesela Gerber Erhardt. Her lessons, born of post-war necessity and the lack of pre-schooling in those days, enabled him to reach a nationwide audience in America and then internationally.  He entertained and taught TV viewers how to cook like his mother.

He soldiered his way to the top of his profession, becoming at 27 the youngest master chef in German history. He championed foods and food-product innovations, which today are considered staples in any kitchen, commercial or private.

The Lure of Two Worlds, the Best and the Worst

The enticing sights, sounds, smells and flavors; the excesses of fortune, fame and connection … excited his imagination.  His world of cooking ran white-hot active – full of innovation, opportunity and competitive challenge. A melting pot of fresh ingredients, newly acquired acquaintances and creative culinary challenges, made for a live-action reality show played out on themed stages. Cooking, for Erhardt, was nothing less than, “Showtime, folks!”

outside the Manor House restaurant 2007

He possessed talents to cook and teach on television that were extraordinary. Fires that burned others were mere sparks on the tail of the energy that propelled Erhardt’s comet. He never stopped thinking about new ingredient combinations, improved ways to cook and innovative cookware. Curious as a child, he sought and unearthed better ways to please more palates, which he then shared with America.

Fernand Point, elite Master Chef and the “Godfather of Modern Cuisine” wrote,

“As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit.”

Erhardt pursued “everything” from sunrise to bedtime for a lifetime.

In the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, Chef Tell performed on television screens in over 200 cities as 40,000,000 people watched weekly. But, for most, he was only the man behind the apron, the moustache and the smile, who told us, showed us, how to live through our taste buds.

Vulnerable, Like Us

     The man Friedemann Paul Erhardt was as vulnerable as the rest of us, as imperfect as any of us.  His extraordinary lifetime, for better or worse, ran a mercurial course. When he won, he broke off pieces of his good-fortune cookie and shared them with everyone he liked, even though some took advantage of him in return. When he lost, he lost big-time, making mistakes and enemies under the powerful magnifying glass of the media.

Erhardt might have succeeded in any profession but he had a passion to cook for people and to make them laugh.

     “If you are not a generous person you cannot be in this field,” wrote Fernand Point, trainer to a generation of French master chefs, which included Erhardt’s contemporaries.

Possessed with unusual charm and charisma – a joie de vivre that set him apart from the crowd, Erhardt mingled well with queens, kings, politicians, housewives, janitors, lawyers, musicians; men, women and children, celebrated or uncelebrated.

In a sense, Tell Erhardt’s life defines ours. How he conquered the long odds and devastating barriers that he faced helps us to navigate our minefields. With him in mind, we realize anew that even the biggest of our dreams, if nurtured and continued, can and will come true.

If truth were told, in the culinary arts, as in the art of living, excellent sustained achievement is accomplished only by superb execution of details in the face of harsh realities.  Chef Tell’s life is the perfect template for us to examine that notion.

Skimping will not do, where a five-star experience is desired.  We must, therefore, start at the beginning.

Philadelphia Inquirer promotion

Philadelphia Inquirer  promotional photo

© 2012, 2015 by Ronald Joseph Kule. All Rights Reserved.

Readers Agree, 5 Stars: “CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef”

4 Feb

About the Chef Tell Biography

http://bit.ly/ChefTellBiographyMost Helpful Customer Reviews:

Chef Tell Is a Masterpiece

“This is a well written, hold-your-interest book that is never dull. The subject, Chef Tell, was a larger than life figure and this book captures that persona. You get the good, the bad and the ugly but after all isn’t that what we want to know about our celebrities? When you purchase this book you also get the recipes for one of Chef Tell’s 7 course meals. What a treat! This is a great read even if you did not know Chef Tell in his prime. You come to know him and love/hate him as you journey through his life across the globe. In the end, I wound up loving him despite his faults in life.”
— Linda

Foodies, chefs and restaurateurs: this book Is delicious

“Fans of the Cooking Channel, as well as those who are making cooking their profession, may find this book the perfect companion to their morning coffee. It opens the door to a rarified world—-the high end of cooking: the rites of passage that make a world-class chef and restaurateur.

“We watch ‘Chopped’ and all the other cooking shows on TV and hear the famous chefs make their pronouncements regarding the transformations of the contents of mystery baskets. But what we don’t hear is how these judges, and every other Cooking Channel chef, got there: the thousands of hours each one of them spent perfecting their arts, and the unique challenges they overcame in order to rise to their current positions. And until now, we haven’t heard the story of the person whose shoulders they are standing on: the original TV showman chef, Chef Tell.

“Chef Tell was a chef’s chef, beloved in the world of chefs because he was a big man with a generous heart who could, very simply, cook great food. More than that, he was a man of boundless energy, relentless pursuit of competence and correct discernment of opportunities as they presented themselves. He had the courage of a pioneer, the soul of a teacher and the charisma of a star, which is what he became.

“Kule’s book shows us a man who rose from nothing, driven by the simple statement of his mother during the dire poverty of wartime: ‘You will never go hungry, if you become a chef.’ The narrative is rich in detail gleaned from interviews with those who knew him personally, without bogging down into a dry recitation of facts. The relationships brought to life in the story give us a real sense of connection with the man himself.” Read more ›

“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

Chef Tell – The Legend

“My wife and I were good friends with Chef Tell and we have been looking forward to reading this book. Ron really bought Chef Tell back to life and accurately portrayed his incredible life’s story, warts and all. Chef Tell was an amazing character and the people whose lives he touched will remember him fondly. Thanks for reminding me what a great guy Chef Tell was and how lucky we were to be a part of his story. I am quite sure that Tell would have approved of Ron’s version of his life’s journey and he would have loved reading this book. Thanks for the memories of a great human being. We just wish we could still ‘… see you!'”
— Tony Baarda

I approached this book without knowing anything about Chef Tell …

“I approached this book without knowing anything about Chef Tell and was pleasantly surprised. It’s an enjoyable book about a chef’s chef and an entertaining read for all Foodies and recipe historians. What I found interesting is insight to the progression of cooking shows on TV. It’s an entertaining and well written book.”
— Vicki

Great read about a very interesting man!

“What an interesting and true story by an incredible story teller. Now I will admit that I had never heard of nor seen Chef Tell before this author’s introduction yet I found myself turning the pages with an avid interest. Ron Kule writes about him in such a way that I could not help but feel I knew the Chef personally.”
— Diane Austin
Chef Tell hi-res cover

Facebook page about Chef Tell

29 Dec

https://www.facebook.com/ChefTellBooks

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.

New book tells story of America’s pioneer TV showman chef

16 Jan

New book tells story of America’s pioneer TV showman chef ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Before people like Martha Stewart and Emeril became TV stars, there was Chef Friedemann Paul Erhardt, later known as Chef Tell. He’s remembered as being America’s first celebrity showman chef, and his nationally-run show was produced by our station. Now, Chef Tell’s story is being told for the first time, thanks to author Ronald Joseph Kule. He sat down with WFMZ’s Eve Tannery to tell us about his book. CLICK HERE to buy Kule’s book or the Chef Tell DVD’s CLICK HERE for information on Ronald Kule’s book-signing on 1/14 in Radnor

Read more from WFMZ.com at: http://www.wfmz.com/news/new-book-tells-story-of-chef-tell-americas-pioneer-tv-showman-chef/-/121458/23920100/-/cp0fp3z/-/index.html
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