Last Call: In praise of Graham Kerr, cooking TV's original wild man

Illustration for article titled Last Call: In praise of Graham Kerr, cooking TVs original wild man
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Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

You might notice here at The Takeout we don’t spend a lot of time writing about the celebrity chefs-du-jour. Frankly, it’s hard to keep up. But our staff does have a fondness of the O.G. television chefs, pioneers like Mary Berry, Martin Yan, Jacques Pepin—they’re the personalities who got us interested about food in the first place.

In that spirit, let’s give a tip of the cap to Graham Kerr. He was the first chef I remembered seeing on television growing up in Seattle, where Kerr’s show was produced. By the early 90s Kerr was already past his Galloping Gourmet persona, instead, evangelizing healthy eating through a segment at the end of his shows called Minimax. Kerr would sit in front of a large board with the nutritional info of a classic dish, then he’d write down the lower fat and calorie count of his version, and this part of the show had all the televised drama of watching an actuary—and I found it wholly charming.

Until recently, I never actually watched The Galloping Gourmet, the cooking show he starred in from 1969-1971. I don’t recognize this version of Kerr one bit; it’s like he had a rocket strapped to his backside. Watch him sprint across the studio, jump over chairs, ham it up with the camera guy, scrunch his face and speak in silly accents. The interaction with the studio audience made the show lively—you can tell watching Kerr where Emeril Lagasse found his inspiration. Here are a few classic episodes of The Galloping Gourmet, as well as a cooking segment of Kerr on Late Night with David Letterman from 1992.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.

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You should learn more about Graham Kerr’s life and maybe talk to him before you “celebrate” the period of his life where he was severely alcoholic and worse. He was “Galloping” because he intoxicated to the point of near death almost constantly during that portion of his life. He mentions it rarely in some of his later shows, but I heard him speak in the late 90s (*edit* I looked it up, it was at the James Beard awards in 1997) and he went into detail about his alcoholism and how he can’t believe how he behaved and some of the things he did and the shame he carries over it. It moved him to tears to even think about. It wasn’t a proud time for him but he fought through that shit, got cleaned up and became an icon of healthy cooking and eating.

tl;dr... You missed the actual story here Kevin. It’s way better than what you have here.