Tag Archives: TV chefs

How I Wrote the Biography of Chef Tell

29 Jan

I had come to the conclusion that no one else was going to write about the life of Friedemann Paul Erhardt (a.k.a culinary icon CHEF TELL) and that I better do something. After all, he was my brother-in-law. But I was not sure that it was a worthy endeavor — family and friends were in opposite camps about the man: some loved him, others hated him. I just wanted to research the facts and decide for myself.
In December of 2011, my sister Bunny Erhardt, widowed since Chef had passed away in 2007, acceded to my request for access to her friends and acquaintances. She gave me permission to write the first Chef Tell biography.
Embarked on my quest to discover whether this man was worthy of my time or not, I developed a three-part outline loosely fitted to the early, middle and later years of his lifetime.  As the work progressed, data gathered on my desk and on sheets of papers surrounding my desk fitted into the corresponding sections of that outline. Eventually, a timeline list of major events in Tell’s life took shape, which became the backbone to my body of work.
As people’s names popped up I jotted these down, notching a mark each time the same name appeared. The list directed me to individuals who would become subjects of interviews that I hoped would provide personal anecdotes, as well as qualify some of the data, which were adding up to conflicting accounts.

Fact and fiction overlapped more than a few times. These instances were not the proverbial “truth is stranger than fiction” variety; either the subject of my book had lied to the press, or journalists had researched their magazine and newsprint articles poorly or not at all. Sifting actual fact from a widespread panoply of published falsehoods circulated among articles, media interviews, and the chef himself, was the hardest part of the task!

My Virgin Interview

My first in-person interview was in Philadelphia in the administrative office of Chef Georges Perrier, a contemporary of Chef Tell and one of the Top Five, premier French chefs in America. Perrier had agreed to 15 minutes only — 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 by following my instincts.

I had never conducted a live interview with anyone before. Working in international marketing sales (to support my writing aspirations) I had met and sold products and services to many top business executives in the financial and healthcare industries for the last 18 years, but this would be my first live interview as an “Author.”

The questions I asked were never a part of my notes, and Perrier was a wonderful interview. He waxed on about his friendship with Tell as I wrote highlights on my pad of paper. My small recorder captured 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 more than an hour. We hugged, perhaps with a hint of tears in our eyes, because Perrier had not known that Janet Louise Nicoletti, Tell’s fiancee when the two chefs first met, had overdosed and died years earlier. Perrier’s 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.”
Later, downstairs, having shelled 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 future interview meetings. That evening I rewarded myself with an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich, for making it through what I thought would be the worst of my gauntlet of interviews for this book.
Now I was proud that I had struck out on this course. 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!”
(Perrier’s remark, which made us both laugh, further broke the ice between us and opened a more intimate repartee from that point forward, gave 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 subsequent interview, each fork in the road, each turn, and hill and valley of the path I was on led to new information about whether I would love or hate the man who was Chef Tell as the work moved inexorably toward its own completion.

http://bit.ly/ChefsBiographyThe details, sprinkled among them never-before-released photos and Chef Tell recipes, and my conclusions, are recorded in CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, the 452-page book published by Skyhorse Publishing (NYC) and available online and in bookstores in hardback, eBook and AudioBook formats. Forewords by Emmy-winning TV hosts Regis Philbin and Chef Walter Staib.
Author-inscribed copies are available from the author’s website at http://RonKuleBooks.com.
*****
Ronald Joseph Kule is an internationally published author/biographer who writes in several genres. Readers consider his works five-star quality. Kule also writes on commission for corporate and private clients. Contact the author for details by emailing to KuleBooksLLC@gmail.com.

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.

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

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

 

Chef Biography Baby Boomer Food for Thought

27 Jan

1943 stuttgart marketplace

Friedemann Paul Erhardt survived a harrowing childhood in post-war Germany, and his mother’s suicide, to endure a Hell’s Kitchen apprenticeship and become Germany’s youngest Master Chef in history in 1970. Two years later, he came to America, and landed the Executive Chef position at the famed Barclay Hotel in Philadelphia.

Winning an open audition for a syndicated TV segment in 1976, he went on to become America’s first “rock-star” TV chef with an active fan base of 40,000,000 Baby Boomers — more than Julia Child. As TV host Regis Philbin put it, “Chef Tell started all this television madness about chefs.”

The Rest of the Story…

The complete and richly detailed, timeless life story of this amazing personality — an American culinary icon, CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, written by Ronald Joseph Kule with forewords by Emmy-winner TV hosts Regis Philbin and Chef Walter Staib, resonates with readers everywhere: posted reviews to date are all five star, including those from several celebrities across different industries.

cropped-chef-tell-cover-photo.jpg

Baby Boomers and Others Are Raving About this Book:

  • “Chef Tell made cooking on TV the new frontier. He did it with humor, a thick German accent and was rather bossy. ‘Let me show you how to cook this,’ he would say. He showed, we learned, we laughed. I am honored to be a part of the book!”—Jan Yanehiro, First Co-Host, Evening Magazine, San Francisco.
  • “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, New York City.
  • “Chef Tell was a man of great humor and incredible skills in the kitchen. He brought wonderful food to the table as well as love and laughter. The author did an impeccable job bringing to life Chef’s humor and passion for food.”—Iron Chef Cat Cora, Santa Barbara, California.
  • “The author’s excellence can be felt in the pulse that beats from within the pages of this book. His work about the late Chef Tell is going to stir more than just a few kitchen pots. I stood back in amazement as Kule took a complex, infuriating, yet ultimately appealing character, and produced one superbly crafted work of literature.” — J. David Miller, Award-winning Author/Sports Journalist/head coach, AAA Semi-pro champion SoCal Coyotes, Rancho Mirage, California.
  • “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, and takes you through all the emotions of life, leaving you to decide what is next for you, and how you will make the most of your today – it’s a testament of the human spirit.”—Tracy Repchuk, #1 Amazon.com Best Selling Author and Top Woman Speaker in the World Online Business Strategy, Los Angeles, California.
  • “The story written is fantastic! I knew Chef Tell as a talented Master Chef and worked as his pastry chef for more than 10 years. This book puts his story together very well.” – Suladda May, Restaurateur, Thai Orchid, Grand Cayman Island.
  • “I so love the way the author uses his words to paint a picture. They make me wish I was there in Philly during that heyday, enjoying the camaraderie among chefs. Reading this book really fuels that fire in me. Chef Tell lived an amazing life and truly paved the way for many chefs who followed on TV. A pioneer and true artist, his story is nothing short of inspirational. From living through the bombings of Germany at birth, to bringing about a revival of Philly through five-star restaurants, this is a book every chef and foodie will want to read.” — Shelley Jaffe, Executive Chef and Roving Foodie (www.rovingfoodies.com), New York and Florida.
  • “My dad, who is 99 and has the mind of a 25-year-old, reads one to two books a week. I bought him Chef Tell’s biography, and he could not put it down. He said, ‘It is outstanding,’ and ‘… Kule is a very gifted writer.’ Dad knew Chef Tell and was always invited to Tell’s fourth of July parties. Tell enjoyed talking with my Dad, who is of Austrian heritage, grew up in the coal region till he went to World War II, 1941 through 1945, and, later, posted in Korea.” — Sharon Dacey, Pennsylvania.
  • “Hey… just finished Tell’s book and I must say Kule really nailed his story. What a storied life Chef Tell lead. He really was a “giant” of a man in many ways. I must admit I had a tear in my eye at the end, and then a few chuckles reading the ‘Last Words.’ I loved the way the author tied it all together for the few people left after the funeral party, who witnessed the huge bonfire and the sparks shooting up to the heavens: that was Tell’s life, and the bonfire was very symbolic. I guess that’s why the Vikings honored their dead leaders/warriors the same way. Of course, the story is the story, warts and all, and I am glad I was a part of it. I feel very honored to have met Tell and got to share in his incredible life. I just wish he was still around, and we could have a few more laughs. Anyway, thanks to the author, Ronald Joseph Kule, for keeping his memory alive and for capturing his ‘story’ so well. I think Tell would have loved this book and been proud to be its ‘star.’ Thanks again for the memories… nice job!” — Tony Baarda, New Jersey.
  • “Hey, Kule… you owe me THREE NIGHTS! I couldn’t put your book down!” – John Fleming, opera singer, Florida.
  • “Halfway through the book now… Kule has really created something wonderful here that is very hard to put down. I love the short-chapters format. It is great to pick up right where you left it, whenever you can actually tear yourself away, that is. Chef Tell was a larger-than-life figure. I had no idea, because my generation missed him completely, but in my mind I am comparing him to any “rock star” or sports figure around today. Kule has successfully captured and portrayed the essence of how famous this guy was – what a rags-to-riches story.”     – J.H., NYPD, New York City.
  • “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. Chef Tell shows us that we advance not so much because of the people we know, but because of our ability to create those relationships — above and beyond presenting consistently delectable dishes in whatever profession we have chosen. For those who want to advance in the culinary world, and for those of us who want to appreciate better the labor of love our favorite chefs go through to delight our taste buds and nourish our bodies, this is a good read. FIVE STARS.” — Maggy Graham, Web Designer, Largo, Florida.
  • “‘CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef’ 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 the pioneer TV showman chef, whom I knew, it’s a series of word pictures that ties together the complexities of each aspect of Chef Tell’s life and career. Kule’s work is a ‘Must Read’ for all Foodies, especially those aspiring TV cooks or chefs. FIVE STARS. FASCINATING, HARD TO PUT DOWN.”  — Chef Charles Knight, Tampa, Florida.

Book Details:

Written by the chef’s brother-in-law, who is an internationally published author and poet, this 454-page, hard cover biography arrives with 70 photos, seven NEW RECIPES, and a DVD offer for home cooks to own Chef Tell on-air TV segments in their homes. Published by Skyhorse Publishing of New York City, this meticulously crafted, fascinating story satisfies adult readers on many levels. Also available online in Ebook and audiobook formats. Author-signed copies are available through the author’s web site, http://kulebooks.myshopify.com/

Chef Tell in Grand Cayman Islands

Chef Tell operated Chef Tell’s Grand Old House on Grand Cayman Island in the 1980’s.

American icons come and go, but their stories live on in the biographies written about them. In the case of Chef Tell, we had only his cookbooks to remind us of his prodigious skills to prep foods, entertain, makes us laugh and teach us how to cook in our kitchens… that is, until now.

Now, with the rest of his story on hand — the real, raw, riveting and ribald adventure that was the lifetime of Friedemann Paul Erhardt, a.k.a. CHEF TELL, we have other pieces of the puzzle to delight us!

About Author Ronald Joseph Kule:

http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1820-ronald-joseph-kule

celebrity chefs remember Chef Tell

15 Nov

“Chef Tell was a man of great humor and incredible skills in the kitchen. He brought wonderful food to the table as well as love and laughter. Author Ronald Joseph Kule did an impeccable job bringing to life Chef’s humor and passion for food,” wrote Iron Chef Cat Cora about the recently released biography of the American culinary icon.

“The culinary atmosphere in Tell’s time, unlike the competitiveness that exists today, was one of great cooperation among chefs. That ambiance was created among his peers and his audiences by Chef Tell, who made cooking fun,” wrote Chef Walter Staib, TV host of the PBS series, A Taste of History.

“Chef Tell etait une speciale, homme tres special.” (“Chef Tell was a special, a very special man.”) Acclaimed and honored French chef ,Georges Perrier, commented in an interview regarding his friend.

“I saw how everyone seemed to know Tell and how they treated him respectfully. I got my first taste of the celebrity lifestyle up close and personal and I was impressed,” said Executive Chef John Barrett of the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, then hired by Tell to work in his newly acquired Manor House restaurant and then invited to accompany him on a trip to a friend’s wedding on Grand Cayman Island. He continued, “Tell is a chef’s chef, someone I wanted to work with.”

Wherever Chef Tell ventured he worked cooperatively with his peers. In the early days of his cooking career as a lowly apprentice he had the backs of his contemporaries when their mentors got too out of line or kicked one of them too hard. In fact, given the opportunity one afternoon, Tell “accidentally” locked inside of a walk-in freezer the group’s fiercest executive chef just to give him a taste of his own medicine and to recover a morsel of respect for all of the other apprentices. That day may have witnessed the young Tell’s first standing ovation for work accomplished in the kitchen.

Chef Tell was royalty to the best of his contemporaries. The renowned chef David Bouley stepped up to the plate when Chef Tell walked into Bouley in Manhattan with a large group eager to have lunch there. Disregarding other celebrity diners seated nearby, Bouley personally took Tell’s order of several entrees for the entire party and then prepared the foods and delivered them himself, including one of his distinctive desserts.

If Tell’s brand of celebrity status to this date has been missed by younger generations, it is only because his life story has not seen the light of day in modern publications, until the release of his biography which is beginning to fill the vacuum of Chef Tell’s absence. Here and there, people are remembering the tall German chef and reading his story, which is capturing the minds and hearts — even the palates, since there are recipes in the book — of younger readers. From a 40’s-Something reader, “Chef Tell was a larger-than-life figure. I had no idea, because my generation missed him completely, but in my mind I am comparing him to any “rock star” or sports figure around today. His biography successfully captures and portrays the essence of how famous this guy was — what a rags-to-riches story!”

As more celebrity chefs find the time to read about the chef who blazed the television trail on which they stand, the kudos come in, agreeing with legendary TV host Regis Philbin, “I think there’s a little bit of sizzling here. Honestly, I can feel it. The ions are flying back and forth… it’s a shame he’s not with us now, but his memory lives on with this book.”

 

Master Chef, Chef Tell DVD OFFER!

26 Sep

CHEF TELL is on a lot of peoples’ minds these days. The biography of his life reads like a timeless tale of overcoming one obstacle after another on an improbable journey toward a stardom that was almost beyond his beliefs. Certainly he could not have known that his likeness and words — let alone his cooking tips, lightning speed with sharp kitchen knives, and rapier-like wit — would become household conversation pieces around the country back in 1976, when he stood on a park lawn and auditioned for an experimental, national TV segment, barehanded and script-less.

The master chef was our first “rock-star” chef. As many as 20,000 Baby Boomer would-be home cooks crowded into Baltimore’s convention center on one weekend just to watch their TV hero cook and entertain in five shows.

(An infomercial of the “lost” Chef Tell shows on DVD will be operable on October 1st — be sure to come back to this link then!)

Chef Tell will again be seen on-air, at least in the Philadelphia area, at first on October 1st… and, who knows, the magic that syndicated his name and image around the nation more than once may strike again. Chef Tell may appear on the air around the country, if all goes well.Chef Tell hi res cover

A lot of the buzz has to be the book.  Chef Tell’s brother-in-law, Ronald Joseph Kule, spent a couple of years of his life researching and writing the life-story of the American kitchen icon. He wanted to leave a legacy for one of his sisters, who married Tell and was his most intimate companion for more than 25 years.

The 452-page, hard-cover book includes 70 photos and NEW CHEF TELL RECIPES, besides the DVD offer in print. There is even a “posthumous gift” inside from the master chef himself: a seven-course dinner suggested and designed to please any palate.

You’ll probably laugh a little, cry a little and even sigh a little reading this meticulous book, but you will walk away more certain that your own dreams can come true with a little luck and a lot of persistence after you journey through Tell’s life and times… those heady days when a renaissance of the culinary arts that captured the nation’s eyes and ears through the magic of television began in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, home of one of its most ebullient personalities, Chef Tell.

© 2013 by KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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