Jeff Smith

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Jeffrey L. "Jeff" Smith (January 22, 1939 – July 7, 2004) was an American chef. He wrote several best-selling cookbooks. Smith was the host of The Frugal Gourmet, a long running American cooking show. He was called "the most visible gourmet" of the 1980s by Time Magazine.[1]

Career[change | change source]

Smith was born in Tacoma, Washington on January 22, 1939.[2] He graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a degree in philosophy and sociology in 1962. When he graduated from Drew University in 1965, Smith began teaching cooking classes to his students called "Food as Sacrament and Celebration", and was ordained as a minister in the United Methodist church.[2] Smith came back to the University of Puget Sound, to become a chaplain of Aldergate Methodist Church in 1966, and married his wife Patricia "Patty" Smith that same year. In 1972, Smith and his students opened and ran a deli and kitchen supply store in Tacoma, Washington, called Chaplain's Pantry Restaurant and Gourmet Shop.[3] In 1973, Smith began his television career with his first cooking show, Cooking Fish Creatively, on a local Tacoma, Washington PBS station, KTPS-TV.[1] The first six episodes of Cooking Fish Creatively were broadcast in black and white, and then, the station began using federal grant for color cameras, because Smith was asked to design a new cooking show, he called it The Frugal Gourmet.[4] The name was suggested by his wife, Patty.[5] The program was later moved to WTTW-TV in Chicago, and then, by KQED in San Francisco, and A La Carte Communications, where it aired nationally on PBS from 1983 to 1997.[6] Known himself as "The Frugal Gourmet", Smith's nickname quickly became "The Frug".[6] Smith always appeared wearing his "trademark" blue and white striped apron.[7] His first cookbook, Recipes from The Frugal Gourmet, was published in 1977.[8] The theme music for The Frugal Gourmet was the Bourree movement from Water Music by George Frideric Handel.[9] When Jeff Smith released his first hardcover cookbook in 1984, he hit the talk show circuit.

In 1981, Smith had heart valve surgery.[1] He was forced to sell the Chaplain's Pantry to pay the huge medical costs.[1] In 1983, he was interviewed on the Phil Donahue show promoting his paperback cookbook. After that, Smith sold 45,000 copies at $4.75 each.[1] The profits allowed him to get out of debt.[1] In 1983, PBS station WTTW in Chicago picked up his show and aired it nationally.[9] The show aired for 14 years, a total of 261 episode.[9] Smith ended every episode of The Frugal Gourmet by saying, "Until I see you again, this is the Frugal Gourmet. I bid you peace, bye-bye". Smith was also quoted as saying "frugal does not mean cheap." He explained, "A frugal gourmet is a thrifty person who enjoys good food."[10]

Smith appeared in television commercials for Columbia Crest Wines.[11] In 1995, Smith hosted "The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast" for the Odyssey Television Network, and then, he retired from television, leaving behind a legacy of loyal of fans, with lots of garlic. That same year, he acted in the movie Grumpier Old Men.[12]

Scandal[change | change source]

In 1997, seven men filed lawsuits against him for alleged sexual abuse. Six of the men said they were abused when they were younger and worked at the Chaplain's Pantry.[8] The case never went to court. Smith said the abuse never happened.[8] The Frugal Gourmet empire ended with the scandal.[13]

Personal life[change | change source]

Smith married his wife Patricia in 1966. They had two sons, Channing and Jason.[1] Patricia is credited by originating the nickname "Frugal Gourmet".[1]

Death[change | change source]

Smith died in his sleep in Seattle on July 7, 2004 at the age of 65.[14] He had suffered from heart disease for a long time.[15] Smith was survived by his wife Patricia, and sons Channing and Jason, as well as daughters-in-law Yuki and Lisa.

Publications[change | change source]

  • Recipes from The Frugal Gourmet (1977)
  • The Frugal Gourmet (1984)
  • The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine (1986)
  • The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American (1987)
  • The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Rome (1989)
  • The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors: Recipes You Should Have Gotten From Your Grandmother (1990)
  • The Frugal Gourmet's Culinary Handbook: An Updated Version of An American Classic On Food and Cooking (1991)
  • The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas (1991)
  • The Frugal Gourmet Whole Family Cookbook: Recipes and Reflections for Complementary Living (1992)
  • The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian: Recipes from the New and Old Worlds (1993)
  • The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast: Past, Present, and Future (1995)

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Kristin Dizon (July 9, 2004). "Jeff Smith, 1939-2004: The 'Frugal Gourmet' was TV's original celebrity chef". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Current Biography Yearbook, Vol. 52 (New York, H.W. Wilson, 1992), p. 540
  3. Glenn Collins (February 10, 1988). "'Frugal Gourmet': A Minister Makes Food His Mission". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  4. Ben Witherington, The Rest of Life: Rest, Play, Eating, Studying, Sex from a Kingdom Perspective (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012), pp. 70-71
  5. Benjamin Svetkey (August 23, 1991). "Jeff Smith's Frugal Gourmet's Culinary Handbook". Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved February 16, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  6. 6.0 6.1 Vicki McClure Davidson (2008). ""The Frugal Gourmet" Jeff Smith's Cornbread". Frugal Café. Archived from the original on January 2, 2015. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  7. Wendy Greenberg (May 12, 1994). "He's Frugal, But Not With His Time Or Friendship Tv Chef Visits A Pal And Helps Abington Friends Raise Funds". Philly.com. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Judith Blake (July 10, 2004). "Jeff Smith, 1939 - 2004: Frugal Gourmet was popular on PBS". The Seattle Times Company. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "The Frugal Gourmet (1973 - 1997)". Retrojunk.com. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  10. Carol Haddix (May 9–10, 1984). "New TV shows cooking up creative cuisine". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  11. "Winery Decides To Stick With Current Ad Agency". The Seattle Times. November 27, 1991. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  12. "Grumpier Old Men; Cast & Crew". TV Guide/CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  13. TIME Staff (August 6, 2009). "Top 10 TV Chefs". TIME. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  14. "'Frugal Gourmet' chef Jeff Smith dies". USA Today. July 9, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  15. "Obituaries: Jeff Smith, 65; Pastor, PBS' 'Frugal Gourmet'". Los Angeles Times. July 10, 2004. Retrieved February 10, 2015.

Other websites[change | change source]