Uncovering the personal life of culinary legend James Beard

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In pursuit of becoming an operatic tenor, James Beard discovered he had a knack for writing about food and teaching America to cook. Photo by Bill Golladay

Merely saying the name James Beard inspires reverence for most chefs since he’s associated with the most coveted award in the culinary world. In the mid-20th century, America knew the man by his physical presence and kitchen instruction, comfortable with letting him into their homes and teaching them how to cook. If Beard had the opportunity to be completely authentic, would his legacy be compromised? John Birdsall delves into new territory with the first honest biography of James Beard and how his closeted life may have shaped American cuisine. Birdsall’s new book is “The Man Who Ate Too Much.”

John Birdsall’s biography on James Beard started with his piece for Lucky Peach, “America, Your Food is So Gay.” Photo courtesy W.W. Norton & Company
Credits

Host:
Evan Kleiman

Producers:
Joseph Stone, Laryl Garcia