Tag Archives: cooking

How a Master Chef Biography Teaches Us Life Lessons

20 Oct

CHEF TELL

A biography is more than a summary of one person’s lifetime; it is a platform for life lessons that are timeless. Friedemann Paul Erhardt’s lifetime rose out of the dying embers of World War II, crossed the skies above two continents, and burned out too soon. The trajectory of this star-crossed ball of fire came with the TV persona “Chef Tell.”

Erhardt’s arc began when a young boy listened to his mother’s advice, “If you become a chef, you will never go hungry.” Later, he sought to cook for the world to share his personal knowledge and love for food. When Erhardt won an audition for a new show concept in the (then) infant days of syndicated television in the early 1970’s, a new category of chefs was born: the “TV Showman Chef.” (A title bestowed by Philadelphia Inquirer food editor and writer, Elain Tait.)

Within weeks, while Julia Child appeared on regional TV, Chef Tell picked up more than 40,000,000 adoring foodie fans across the nation, also performing live cooking demonstrations in public venues to as many as 20,000 people on a weekend.

Suddenly, Chef Tell was famous, overworked and getting rich. It would not be too much to say that Erhardt as Chef Tell was, in fact, America’s first “Rock-Star” chef.

FRESH INGREDIENTS, FRESH TASTE

Chef Tell’s characteristic signature for all of his cooking was twofold:

  1. He only used the freshest possible ingredients, and
  2. his food always tasted good.

As a matter of principle, Erhardt rose before dawn every day to oversee personally the purchase of foods that would be prepared and cooked in his restaurants or on a TV show set. The freshness and quality of his food choices, as well as his kitchen skills and made-for-television, ebullient personality, brought him more appearances than any other chef on the hottest morning TV show in the nation, LIVE! with Regis & Kathie Lee (later known as LIVE! with Regis & Kelly). When Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa tried Tell’s freshly prepared food on-air and commented favorably, they were ad-libbing their glowing remarks, not reading prepared scripts. (Most other chefs had their foods prepared for them, instead of selecting fresh ingredients and preparing the foods themselves. The crews dismissed eating their foods but clamored for Chef Tell’s!)

LIFE LESSONS

click photo for author-signed copiesWhile the previous paragraph teases us with merely a taste of Chef Tell’s thrill-ride, celebrity life, the off-camera portions are more satisfying and easily ingested by reading the biography, CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef (Forewords by Emmy-winner TV hosts, Regis Philbin and Chef Walter Staib; published by Skyhorse Publishing. 452 pages: hardcover, eBook and AudioBook.)

Readers can discover:

  • how he survived the detritus of post-war living;
  • the discovery of his mother’s lifeless body when he was to begin a three-year, mandatory cooking apprenticeship;
  • the verbal abuses and kitchen projectiles thrown at him as he developed into Germany’s youngest master chef;
  • his life inside an American corporate culinary culture that banished chefs to the confines of their kitchens and discouraged innovation; and
  • the rigors of executive cheffing three restaurants while taping TV shows, making live appearances on TV talk shows and traveling across the country to regale crowds of adoring fans looking for more of his humor and cooking wisdom.

And all of that was just his on-air, on-camera life!

Private Goals

The personal side of Erhardt’s lifetime fascinates readers just as much. There they find the marital bliss and destruction that he faced more than once, and how he emerged mostly unscathed from self-created conflagrations with single women. Through it all, garnering lifelong friendships and overcoming hardships that he had to learn how to master and out-live, Erhardt searched for a long-lasting relationship with one soulmate. And he ended up winning each and every dream he pursued, giving us lessons that we can all use in our quests for happiness.

Chef Tell entertained his fans and loved his celebrity life, but Friedemann Paul Erhardt was just as happy to be someone that his cats and dogs, and closest friends, could always count on to be there for them.

Despite the adversities he had to overcome, Erhardt left us with an important legacy: Persistence toward, and achievement of, desired goals is not only possible, but also a must for surviving a lifetime worth living.

The biography written by Ronald Joseph Kule is available everywhere online, and through the author’s website.

© 2015 by Ronald Joseph Kule. All Rights Reserved.

How to Overcome Barriers Toward Known Goals

11 Mar

A Life Story of the Pursuit of Happiness

How To Overcome Barriers Toward Known Goals

(A Life Story of the Pursuit of Happiness)

Friedemann Paul Erhardt, when asked by Art Moore*, “What will be your TV persona?” before he went on television for the first time, replied, “Just call me ‘Chef Tell,’ and in that moment he created the pioneer TV showman chef, a role to be played out by a long line of chefs joining a cavalcade of American TV personalities that is the most popular genre on the medium in 2015.

In doing so, Chef Tell evoked memories from his early childhood.  Erhardt had grown up in post-war Germany.  He survived days and nights without food, or with meager supplies.  He discovered he liked to help his mother in the kitchen at the early age of six.  A few years later, she told him, “If you become a chef, you will never go hungry.”  At the tender age of 13, he dedicated his lifetime to the profession, hoping to do justice to his mother’s foresight.

A Master Chef at 27

Erhardt was also Germany’s youngest Master-Chef graduate by 1970, the year he won the Culinary Olympics Gold Medal by leading a team of chefs to the Gold Medal.  Two years later, he arrived in America, and the rest, as they say, is history, because Chef Tell became America’s pioneer TV showman chef, a moniker formally bestowed upon him by Philadelphia Inquirer Food Writer Elaine Tait, who also reminded her readers that “Chef Tell’s food always tastes good.”

Tait’s loyal disciples flocked to his Philadelphia-area restaurants whenever he opened one in between his TV-show tapings and media tours and appearances across our land.  Chef Tell, you see, packed as many as 20,000 into public venues in a weekend.  They came to watch him demonstrate how to prepare fresh foods and cook them simply and quickly, as he quipped his way into their hearts and made them laugh and buy his wares.

About that TV persona name?  In childhood school days in Germany, Erhardt had performed the lead role in the play William Tell, and he had done such an admirable turn that his classmates started to call him ‘Tell.”

An Invitation to a Great Read

outside the Manor House restaurant 2007

outside the Manor House restaurant 2007

Although Friedemann Paul Erhardt’s celebrity lifetime was a complicated and tumultuous journey, it makes for an excellent, five-star read for bookies and foodies.  You see, he did accomplish at least two of his most cherished goals with panache.

Tell’s friends miss his cooking and continue to miss him, but now his biography followers wish they, too, could have been there when this culinary icon’s star-comet splashed across the media.

“Tell never forgot that he was the guest … never took over his segments from the host, and that added to his genuineness. While too many people work too hard to ‘be in,’ Tell naturally was ‘on.’
This book gives you so much: a taste of Tell, the person, and his taste for delicious food.”

—Art Moore, Executive in Charge of Production for LIVE! with Kelly & Michael

American culinary icon Chef Tell, aka Friedemann Paul Erhardt, IS America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef!

(*AUTHOR’S NOTE: Art Moore “discovered” Chef Tell.)

© 2015 by Ronald Joseph Kule. All Rights Reserved.

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 Reveals a Big Mistake!

13 May

Back when Friedemann Paul Erhardt was a lowly apprentice in the German trade apprenticeship program, he was merely 13 1/2 years of age and naive. The morning that his instructor told him to “boil a pot of potatoes,” he turned up the heat on a pot full of potatoes, and within minutes the kitchen filled with smoke!  The executive chef in charge got into the hapless boy’s face in a hurry, yelling even as his boot hit the lad’s behind — “hitting me where it hurts,” as Erhardt later put it.

No one had told him to put water in the pot with the potatoes!

Erhardt survived his apprenticeship failures, however, and graduated as the youngest Master Chef in German history to his time in 1970. He went on to captain the West German team to a gold Medal win in that year’s Cooking Olympics and also won a personal Gold Medal in another competition that year. He was named “German Chef of the Year.”

But the “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey might have described it, is that Friedemann Paul Erhardt emigrated to America two years later and became Chef Tell, America’s pioneer television showman chef.  His 40 million-strong, Baby Boomer, TV fan base reveled in his recipes, cooking instructions and demonstrations and the jovial personality that, at times, made for non-stop jokes and entertaining TV.

Order your copies now — for yourself and as a great gift — in pre-release online and at retailers everywhere. Release date is set for October 1, 2013… in time for the Holidays.

What People Are Saying About Chef Tell’s Biography

29 Apr

Chef Tell Biography Reviews:
“WOW is a great start! This is a wonderful account of one man’s voyage and how in so many ways every reader will connect with something. It is engaging;  a testament of the human spirit.”– Tracy Repchuk, Best Selling Author, International Speaker

“I am honored to be a part of the book!”— Jan Yanehiro, First Co-Host, Evening Magazine, San Francisco.

“This book gives you so much: a taste of Tell, the person, and his taste for delicious food.” — Art Moore, Executive in Charge of Production for LIVE! with Kelly & Michael
“Chef Tell was a man of great humor and incredible skills in the kitchen.  The author Ronald Joseph Kule did an impeccable job bringing to life Chef’s humor and passion for food.” — Iron Chef Cat Cora
“Chef Tell can be felt in the pulse that beats from within the pages. This work is going to stir more than just a few kitchen pots. I stood back in amazement as the author took a complex, infuriating, yet ultimately appealing character, and produced one superbly crafted work of literature.” — J. David Miller, Award-winning Author/Sports Journalist

Skyhorse Publishing has set the release date for 1 October, 2013 and the book is available now in pre-release online and at usual retailer outlets.

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