'American Masters: James Beard'
(DVD / G / 2017 / PBS)
Overview: Experience a century of food through the life of James Beard, who spoke of the importance of localism and sustainability long before those terms had entered the vernacular. A cookbook author, journalist, television celebrity and teacher, Beard helped to pioneer and expand the food media industry.
DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, James Beard (May 5, 1903 – January 21, 1985) was an American cook, cookbook author, teacher and television personality. Beard was a champion of American cuisine who taught and mentored generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts.
His legacy lives on in twenty books, other writings and his foundation's annual James Beard awards in a number of culinary genres.
Beard was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1903 to Elizabeth and John Beard. His mother operated the Gladstone Hotel, and his father worked at the city's customs house. The family vacationed on the Pacific coast in Gearhart, Oregon, where Beard was exposed to Pacific Northwest cuisine.
Common ingredients of this cuisine are salmon, shellfish and other fresh seafood; game meats such as moose, elk, or venison; mushrooms, berries, small fruits, potatoes, kale and wild plants such as fiddleheads or young pushki (Heracleum maximum, or cow parsnip).
Indeed, Beard constantly spoke of the importance of localism and sustainability long before those terms had entered the vernacular. At a time of "all things French," Beard appreciated what America had to bring to the table, and was the first chef to go on television to teach not only women, but men, how to cook. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.