In addition to helping America define its culinary heritage, James Beard was the pioneer of television cooking: he hosted the first ever cooking TV show, I Love to Eat, in 1946 on NBC. Beard initially aspired to a career in theater and movies, but when that ambition failed, he started a catering business in 1935. By 1937, with the opening of his small food shop called Hors d’Oeuvre, Inc. Beard knew food was his future.
In 1940, Beard produced the first major cookbook on cocktail food, Hors d’Oeuvre & Canapes, which put him on the culinary map. He published books, ran a restaurant in Nantucket and established the James Beard Cooking School in 1955. The year before, the New York Times had dubbed him the dean of American cookery. James Beard died at age 81 in 1985, but he will always be remembered as one of the fathers of American food and the first of television’s chefs. After his death, Julia Child suggested that Beard’s townhouse in Greenwich Village be purchased and a foundation formed in his honor. The James Beard Foundation now issues annual awards to recognize excellence in culinary pursuits.
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