The Most Popular Cooking Show the Year You Were Born
Here are the most popular cooking shows that shaped your youth. How many do you remember?
1924 – 1945: The Betty Crocker School of the Air
The most popular cooking show in the 20s wasn’t on TV at all. It played on the radio from 1924 until 1951, and it starred the fictional Betty Crocker. Until 1927, when The Betty Crocker School of the Air got picked up nationally by NBC Radio, the part of “Betty” was played by whoever happened to be reading the script at the local radio station!
1946: Cookery with Philip Harben
Cookery was a BBC cooking show hosted by Philip Harben, a self-taught cook. The first episode was a 10-minute tutorial on “lobster vol-au-vents.” It was the only cooking show on television when it began, and it ran for another ten years, making him Britain’s most famous cook for a decade. Learn how to fix your most common cooking disasters.
1947: I Love to Eat with James Beard
James Beard was the very first American chef to cook on television. (And he did it live!) Several months after Cookery premiered in the United Kingdom, Beard turned up on Friday nights in the United States. Despite Beard’s considerable talent, the 15-minute show was gone from the airwaves within a year.
1948: The Kelvinator Kitchen with Alma Kitchell
via Radio Revue (March 1930) / Wikipedia.org
The Kelvinator Kitchen was an NBC show in which host Alma Kitchell demonstrated housekeeping tips and skills, using Kelvinator products. (Kelvinator was an appliance maker that is now owned by Electrolux.) Kitchell, a singer, left her radio career to host the show, which aired soon after Beard’s went off the air and lasted through June 1948. We wish these colorfully retro kitchen appliances would come back in style.
1949: To The Queen’s Taste with Dione Lucas
Dione Lucas was an English chef and restaurateur, but her television show aired in the United States from 1948 to 1949. It may be most famous for “keeping it real.” Once, when her soufflé failed to rise (or even bake) due to an electrical difficulty on set, Lucas went on chatting about soufflé—even as hers dissolved into a puddle before the audience’s eyes.
1955: Chez Bon Viveur with Fanny Cradock
Fanny Cradock claimed to be psychic and liked to say her kitchen talents came from having been a chef in a previous life. Talk about a big personality! Cradock was arguably the very first “celebrity chef,” giving all her dishes French names, even the ones that were not French, and introducing a whole generation of cooks to exotic ingredients. Learn these ways to cook everything faster.
1959: Entertaining with Kerr with Graham Kerr
Graham Kerr began hosting Entertaining with Kerr on TV in New Zealand in 1959. He appeared dressed in his military uniform, winning over many fans. His book by the same name sold out in a week. Entertaining with Kerr was the first of many cooking shows Kerr would host throughout the world.
1963: The French Chef with Julia Child
Bill Potter/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock
Julia Child’s The French Chef debuted in February 1963 on public television and quickly became famous for bringing French cooking into American kitchens. Her love of butter is legendary, and her relaxed approach sometimes had hilarious results. New episodes aired for a decade, after which it went into syndication. Today, you can still find The French Chef on the Cooking Channel. Have you tried Julia Child’s method for peeling garlic?
1966: Joyce Chen Cooks with Joyce Chen
Courtesy Joyce Chen Family archives
If your mom tried her hand at soy- and ginger-infused stir fry or potstickers in the late 1960s (as mine did!), it’s likely you have Joyce Chen to thank. Chen is credited with popularizing northern-style Chinese cuisine in the United States. She also brought woks into American kitchens.
1968: The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr
Just a couple years after hitting the airwaves in New Zealand, Kerr moved to Canada to produce and star in The Galloping Gourmet. The show was named for Kerr’s “Galloping Gourmet” persona, which he cultivated by running onstage and leaping over a chair to begin each episode. The show had an international flavor, often including a pre-recorded segment showing Kerr in whatever country that episode’s dish originated. Reruns are still on the Food Network.