Transcript:

Speaker 1 I got involved in food very strangely, I mean, I've always loved good food since I was a child and we had very good food at home all the time. So I grew up with good food, never thinking of it as a career at all. I didn't know how to cook because food came very naturally from the kitchen and was delicious. And my mother sort of supervised it a little bit, but not to the point that made me want to go in the kitchen particularly. So here I am, about 20 years old and I'm in London, a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. And it's the late 1950s and the food is dreadful in England. Absolutely dreadful. The food and our canteen in the school canteen is dreadful. And I'm sitting there eating the sea through roast beef, grey grey cabbage, green potatoes. And I'm dreaming of Indian food and thinking, how can I get this? And no Indian restaurants of that time. There weren't many and they were terrible. So I started writing letters to my mother saying, please teach me how to cook. I don't know how to make tea and not make rice. So in little letters, she wrote three line recipes to me of the few things I wanted to learn. And I started cooking. I was living with a family and I started cooking from those recipes. But of course, here's the main thing that Jim talked about much later. I remember the taste of everything. The tastes were all there. So my mother's recipes, even though they were slight in volume, I could bring back the taste and the flavours after a few trial and errors because I remembered what they were. So I started cooking that way and then went on from there.

Speaker 2 So how are your influences in the food world, personal and professional now?

Speaker 1 I mean, there were people who I learned from. One of them was Elizabeth David and I didn't know who she was. And then one day I get this letter from her. I think this must have been in the 70s. I'd just written my first cookbook. And she said in the letter, I loved your recipe for the fried dates and may I use them in one of my books. And I said, Of course you can. And then I read up on her and read her writing and was so free and open and traveling through France and traveling to Italy, it just was really the approach was so acceptable to me that you're not saying this is the greatest art of dementia, putting before you and putting before you something that you want to eat and you're going to love and you're going to want to make and that approach I. I absolutely love. So she was certainly early on, Aminta, but from a distance because I didn't really know her except for that letter exchange. And then I read her books, but I wasn't serious about cooking at that time. Initially I was more serious about acting, luckily or not. So luckily I didn't get so much acting work. So then I started writing more and more and more. And that's how I was pulled into this world of food.

Speaker 2 James Beard always talked about his taste memory. Did he talk to you about his past experiences growing up, the foods that he remembered?

Speaker 1 He did. He talked about his mother a lot and the boarding house that she ran. So I understood a lot of what he grew up with. But what really endeared us to each other was that he was a singer and an actor. And he used to say to me, we are hustlers together. You know, we know what we want, but and we know how to get it. We can we can play the game and get what we want. So in a way, I understood what he was saying because I was also acting at cooking and he was also acting at cooking and being this great food person. He loved his food, but it was a game that he was playing and it was a game that I understood very well because I was playing the same game. We were playing the part of chefs cooks, you know, because we love food. And it could be another way to showcase our acting, really.

Speaker 2 Did he ever express any regret to you about not having made it as an actor?

Speaker 1 No, no, no. He just accepted where he was at that particular time. And this is what he was doing and this is what he was known for. So be it.

Speaker 2 I heard him tell a story.

Speaker 3 Would it be too hard to find. No, no,

Speaker 1 no, no, please, please close it. And you can close this one, too, because I think that, you know, I think this one also brings in a truck sounds.

Speaker 2 OK, OK, so. Did he have any did he ever express regret about not having made it as an actor?

Speaker 1 No, not to me. He did keep on saying very often that we were hustlers and we knew how to use the acting to get what we wanted. But he never expressed any regret to me. He accepted where his life was and that he was having a good time and people were at his feet and he was enjoying that very much. And I think he let it go at that. As far as I know.

Speaker 2 I heard you tell a story about dining with him at the coach house. Yeah. And you you met a musician and he started to

Speaker 1 say this was at our house, that we had invited him for lunch because we lived in the same block of Jimbo's at one end of the block and we were at the other end of the block and. I think it was Koussevitzky, I'm not sure, but it was a friend of Sanford's and Leon and his wife, Leon Leonardos of Coach House, and Jim was eating and at that time, the chicken was not known. I thought I was giving him something he knew nothing about. And so I thought that was one of the dishes that I served. And he tasted it. And he immediately said to Matt, at odds. I said, How did you know? He said, I knew with the first bite. So he had that kind of palate, which understood all too well. But you can taste there's a first matter, not that you can see that has seeped in. There's another matter which is hanging at the top. So a very well-developed palate and I think. If you have that, you don't need the rubbish that people tell you, eat this with that you drink this with that, you can dispense with all that because you can trust your own palate. And that's what I really admired about him. He used to say, I love iceberg lettuce at a time when all the newspapers were saying awful, awful lettuce. Usually this lettuce and that lettuce, but not this crisp mass-produced, iceberg lettuce. He says, I love it. Let's have some iceberg lettuce with a dressing. And and he he would go for things that other people turned down because he trusted himself. And I loved that aspect of him.

Speaker 2 There is also, I think, the time that you discovered he was an opera singer before he was acting or after.

Speaker 1 Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Speaker 2 Was at the same lunch or.

Speaker 1 No, no, no. I knew that before because he told me that he wanted that his dream was to be an opera singer and not so much an act as an opera singer. I think that singing was his dream. But again, he seemed all right with it having gone nowhere.

Speaker 2 Did he ever sing for you?

Speaker 1 No. No, there was for me.

Speaker 2 We were talking about tast memories earlier, you're saying when you were a student in London especially, what what are some of the most significant tast memories that you have from growing up in India?

Speaker 1 Well, I think I mean, the moment I was born, my grandmother wrote on my tongue with a finger dipped in honey, she wrote Ohm, which means I am I exist. And of course, I don't remember it, but I think I do. I remember it being a wonderful, wonderful taste and opening my mouth for more. But this is maybe I've told myself the story so many times and this is what I now believe. But I think and then after that we were it was the sour and the spicy taste that began to take over. And just like a young girl, my dream of one day growing up and wearing stockings or something, the aim of a young child in India. And I grew up enough to eat those spices, the setting that are hot and spicy. And at the moment I can't eat them, but when can I eat them? So this is a kind of dream that you work your way towards because you see people salivating at the these spices. So we used to eat little green mangoes from the trees that we cut down from the trees and eat them. We slice them and then we put salt, pepper and chili powder too. And roasted came in and it was really, really delicious. So that's one of my earliest memories. And I think that is what forms my taste buds in a certain way. These contrasting flavors and the sourness and the hotness being very much a part of it. And I remember when Jim was older, I was asked Carl and I were teaching some of his classes because he couldn't really teach. He couldn't stand up. He sat in a big director's chair in his kitchen. Ranges was shaped and in a U. Shaped arrangement. And he used to sit in the center on a high director's chair, a big one, because was a big one. And then Karl and I would actually carry out the classes. And the classes were things I didn't really know, like how to make sauces, how to make omelets and different kind of eggs. But I would run home and look up books on hollandaise sauce, how to correct all of this, because the next day I'd be teaching in Jim's classes. So we were teaching some of the classes. And one of the classes that he taught, which I thought was fabulous, was a class on taste. And and that was a class that he started with, so I don't know if you've heard of this class, different kind of souls, different kind of oils, like nine different kind of everyone tasted everything. And I remember. A food writer who I shall not name, who thought no end of I won't say herself himself because that gives something away and who said so-and-so is wearing perfume. I can't taste with the smell floating around. These things didn't matter to him. If you had a palate, you tasted through the smell and everything else. And then he had nine different types of caviar, which I thought was amazing, starting from lungfish, caviar, going to the best ostry, you know, lovely types of caviar. And we all tasted the difference. And this was open to the whole class. And I remember. And then he said. Also, there were different kinds of meats with the with the fat old cutoff, because when you cut every bit of fat off, you can't really tell very often what the meat is. So then he said at the end of the class, do you think there's such a thing as taste memory? And you can see all these students and again, they were these high level food critics and all in the class, and they will say, what is the right answer? And they nobody trusted themselves enough. And that's what Jim did. He was encouraging people to to trust themselves, know yourself, trust yourself, go according to what you like. And that is the best thing I remember. He would do things in the kitchen for just us like these have come over dinner. Will we make some lamb? And I remember this very well. He made it. It was a rolled piece of lamb into which he stuck garlic, rosemary and anchovies. I'd never seen that before. And then he took the the stems of broccoli and he just sauteed them in slices and butter. And that's what we had for dinner. It was absolutely yummy and I didn't realize that anchovies would dissipate and vanish into the lamb the way they did, and just that simple broccoli stem, which I ate all the time at home but didn't tell anyone I was eating broccoli stems. He openly said, this is great, we will eat it. And it was wonderful. So it's that kind of honesty that Jim had and he didn't look for, you know, very complicated dishes. Another thing I remember from the teaching days as he was getting very sick and he would be upstairs, you don't remember. I mean, I don't know if you all know where his bedroom was. It was upstairs in a little room above the stairs where

Speaker 2 the mirrors and the house. Now it has the mirror on the ceiling.

Speaker 1 Maybe it's a room to the side of the of the living room. And he used to be up there and this was winding staircase that went up. So the smells went up. So whenever I'd be teaching classes, the smells would go up and he would call it and he'd be deathly ill from gout and things like where you have to be careful with food. And he would ask, send me a plate of something or the other. And then I'd say, sure, that he can eat this and he would certainly eat. And then ten minutes later, could you ask me another play of that day, which I was looking at that. So his desire for good food was always with him, even when he was very, very sick. And then every now and then he would have this very plain which he loved. And I developed a taste for it after he talked about it so adoringly. And then he shoved it. And this was kielbasa in the Mirrabooka, just simple old kielbasa cooked in a Mirrabooka. Fabulous. Why do you need anything else when you can have something simple and good? And another thing you taught me that he had very often at home, which was lobster cooked in a kind of tomatoey stock, lobster tails, which was another thing he loved. And then one year, I remember Marion Cunningham was in town and Marion said, I'll make dinner and she made polenta. The creamiest was gorgeous, simple polenta with a simple tomato sauce, and we all sat around my husband, I married an engine and that was a heavenly meal. So he wasn't looking for grand things, you know, press dog, you know, he wanted simple taste that satisfied. And that was very important to him. I didn't tell you how I we met,

Speaker 3 which were remote,

Speaker 1 which was the weirdest thing. Judy Jones was as editor and Judith was my editor at the same time. And I was just venturing forth, had just done my first cookbook. Nobody knew who I was. And Judith said, you must teach classes. I teach classes where and to whom, and I don't know who will come. So we did a little bit of advertising here and there and nobody signed up for the classes. So Judith said, don't worry, we'll do them at Jim's house and Jim will get a few people, I'll get a few people and there'll be some people that don't worry. So Jim lived at that time on 10th Street. He hadn't moved to 12th Street and it was in his little kitchen that I first taught my classes. And Jim said, don't worry about a thing, I'm going to attend your classes. And he was there in the class sitting watching me teach everybody how to cook. And that's how I got to know him as this wonderful, generous guy who was as big in heart as he was in circumference, you know, wonderful, wonderful man who was generous enough to stop me in my career as a food writer.

Speaker 2 Did he give you advice about teaching or.

Speaker 1 No, he seemed so happy, which gave me so much confidence that, OK, I'm doing something right. He never was wasn't critical. He wasn't. He just said, oh, the food tastes wonderful, just so encouraging all the time.

Speaker 2 Tell us about classes, his classes, you said at the end he would sit in the director's chair. How many people were there? What would happen to him?

Speaker 1 I can't remember the exact number of people, but certainly there were enough to fill the U. Shaped set up. So it must have been 16 to 20. I don't really know. And then Clay was always around helping. And the time I remember most about his classes was when we taught them because he wasn't well at that time. His classes, I don't remember as well because I wasn't there at that time when he was teaching them. I just was brought in as he was getting older and we were teaching. But he was saying had the last word all the time about everything you mentioned.

Speaker 2 Clay and Karl. Jerome, can you tell us who they were?

Speaker 1 Well, Clay could best be described as Jim's man Friday, who did everything for him, including help in the kitchen. And then when Jim died, it was funny that Clay was still there and he always said at the same window near the street. So whenever we passed, he would wave from the window. He still wanted kept his connection to us all the time and he would wave from the window. But he did everything he knew, like Jim was feeling. He looked after him. He cared for him. He always called him Mr. Beard and took, you know, full care of him in a very personal kind of way. And Jerome came in as an assistant. I think also at the time when Jim was not feeling so well and again was assisting in in the book, I think various books that Jim was doing at that time, he was assisting in that and he was assisting with the classes. And and that's all really that I know about him. And upstairs always, always was Genwal called Viji. I think his name was Vijay. And he was, of course, the brilliant, brilliant cake maker he had. He supplied all the cakes to Alfredo's, his Trattoria Alfredo. And those cakes, the one I remember unforgettable, was the duck was which was the meringue cake. And I remember one that to me remains my favorite cake, which is hazelnuts in in the meringue. Absolutely. He was a master of that cake. And Jim used to talk about him as the master of these cakes. And he was he was just brilliant.

Speaker 2 Did you become neighbors with Jim before you knew him or after you knew him? Did I become what, whatevers on the same block as 12th Street?

Speaker 1 No, I didn't know him before at all in any way. I mean, I didn't know anything about anything. I didn't know that much about food or food writing. It was after I started writing my first book and then more books and then people said, write on this and write on that, that I became a foodie. And before that I was a person without any food. I was an actress without any food connections. But it was I got to know Jim. I met him for the first time, I think, in his house and on 10th Street.

Speaker 2 So when you moved to 12th Street or when he

Speaker 1 moved, we were always onto our street

Speaker 2 when he moved there. Yeah. You already had known him?

Speaker 1 Yes. Then I'd already been teaching at his 10th Street place.

Speaker 3 Can I just ask. Anything else about you? What was his personality like? We've heard a lot of different stories about you and your memories that stick out about besides the cakes

Speaker 1 in the house. It's mostly the cakes. He was a quiet retiring. Person and you had to know him a little bit before he opened up at all. He would just go upstairs and he was really, I think, a shy retiring person, though he may not be to people that knew him very well. But I always found him a little diffident, a little shy and. But a dear friend of Jim's and I think Jim relied on him in some very emotional kind of way for many things.

Speaker 2 What was the atmosphere at the house like when they were just in a typical day when there weren't classes going on?

Speaker 1 I think people going in and out, people Jim was always working on an article or a book, and he usually had somebody helping him with a book. There were various women I knew who helped him with books and people who like Jerome, who would help him with other things. That was clear. So there was a lot of going in and people delivering things for for his classes. So a lot of action. He he was not a man of solitude in any way. He had built this house with a garden in the back and it was arranged to have people in it all the time. And I think he enjoyed company all the time.

Speaker 3 Were you ever there when famous people might have come over to Brown, came over?

Speaker 1 I'm sure I was, but I don't remember it specifically. I remember Marion Cunningham suddenly coming in and cooking. Anybody who came came and cooked. You just you came in and you became at home, as it were, and you offered your services and everybody offered their services to do whatever, carry on cooking the meals or whatever had to be done was done together. And if Jim was then going out to dinner, somebody said, would you like to come in? I'm eating in this place. And he was he loved being invited to neighborhood restaurants. And he had seven favorite places where he liked to go. So I think his life was very socially very full all the time.

Speaker 2 What were some of his favorite restaurants that he liked?

Speaker 1 When I know the courthouse was a great favorite with Leon, very much that much loved by him. But I think there were others. I don't remember them.

Speaker 2 What was it like to dine with him?

Speaker 1 I mean, I think dining with him was a kind of pleasure, because, first of all, he was relaxed. There was no one upmanship or, you know, trying to show how much he knew about food. It was just enjoying the food and talking about anything. It could be music, which we often talked about. It could be his garden. It could be anything, his travels somewhere, his goat or anything like that.

Speaker 2 Tell us about his garden, was he growing things in the back garden at the beard house?

Speaker 1 There wasn't much no as far as I remember there were flowers, but I don't remember a lot of vegetables or anything like that. I think it was just a place to go out and sit as far as he was concerned.

Speaker 2 We read that Mr. Beard sent you a letter about working with his new venture, Beard. Wolf Blitzer in the cook's catalog. Yeah, tell us about that.

Speaker 1 And certainly remember meeting Milton Glaser. So all these people, they were all around all the time. Again, I don't have too much to say on that because I don't remember too much of Beth. I remember I was part of the book in some way, but I don't remember what. So we'll leave that question because I don't remember very much about.

Speaker 2 In general, how would you describe him to as a person, to someone who's never met him?

Speaker 1 I think is a big, generous man who enjoyed having fun with his life and hated to be bored. I should certainly tell you the stories which you already knew about when he was dying, I mean, when he was very ill and he. Was sick, couldn't eat anything, was in the hospital, and Sandra and I were going up to see him, so along the way we called, we said we should ask him what he wants. Maybe we can take some magazines or books or what would you like? So we called him up from along the way and he said famously, some strawberries would be nice. So we were looking all for strawberries everywhere. We got whatever strawberries we could and we went in and there he is in his bed, sitting up lots of people. It's a party going on in the in the hospital room. He says, go, go do that top drawer. So the top drawer of the bureau pull out. There's wine. He said not pick something. Then he said, try the next door nuts, you know, and there's food everywhere. So people are partying. And we heard the phone ring again while we were there. And for somebody else calling for the same salary, just some asparagus would be nice. So he went in that sense with good food all around him and friends and company.

Speaker 2 Who were the people that were there with him in the room?

Speaker 1 Usually when I know Judith went to see him and I can't remember specifically who was there, but there were lots of people, all of us who had been around kept jumping in at various times to see him.

Speaker 2 Where were you when you heard that he had passed?

Speaker 1 I think Judith called me and said that. Piers, he was gone a little reluctantly, but gone.

Unidentified Let me just ask you,

Speaker 3 did you go to the auction, what did you find out after you heard he was gone that was happening at the house?

Speaker 1 No, I just was too depressed to go to any of that and follow the politics of what went on. Next to the next stage. I knew was the James Beard Awards had been set up and there was nobody I knew really who had known Jim was any part of it. And it just seemed an alien business that had replaced Jim. And. I was very happy that his name was still being remembered and very happy to win all the awards. I think I got seven. I don't know how many I have James Beard Awards, happy with all the things that followed. But it wasn't Jim. None of it was Jim.

Speaker 3 What do you think he would think about?

Speaker 1 I don't know, you might enjoy the hoopla. He was a man for enjoying the hoopla, but I think it wasn't the man. He was the kind of things that are being pushed by the new chefs and things like that. He would have enjoyed all that, but he liked really simple food. Well done. And so I don't know what he would have thought.

Speaker 2 It's interesting, you were talking a little bit about that wasn't Jim. What do you think are some of the misconceptions about him that people who didn't know him have?

Speaker 1 Well, a lot of young people don't know him at all. The young chefs know the awards because they've become such a big deal. It's like the Oscars, but they don't know what he was, who he stood for. So the personality and the honesty of that personality is somehow lost in the business of the personality.

Speaker 2 You are quoted as saying he could have been the man who came to dinner. He lived it his entire life. Can you tell us about what you are saying?

Speaker 1 That I don't even know what it means?

Speaker 3 Alan Jones in his book said that at one point there was this discussion to make a play around the man who came to dinner and that they were going to cast Jim. Yes. And came to dinner. And you said, well, of course, he should be the man who came to dinner. He's lived his whole life.

Speaker 1 Yeah, maybe I did say that. But I

Speaker 3 you

Speaker 1 know, I know I

Speaker 3 love it, but maybe expound on that. I mean, he. He was kind of larger than life

Speaker 1 and, yeah, he certainly was larger than life, but appreciative of the smallest things. So if he did come to dinner, he would love what you made. He would appreciate what you made, whether it was a pasta, simple pasta. He was one to appreciate every detail of the food without expecting some great glorious done by a chef that was going to astound you with its miraculous inventions. That's not what pleased him. He liked things well done that tasted good. And I think that's where food should be.

Speaker 2 So there was a great deal of humility.

Speaker 1 Exactly. There was more humility to what he really liked, not necessarily to his personality, because there was there was a haughty aspect to his personality as well. He knew what he wanted and he went about it in a. Not necessarily in a humble way. He knew where he stood. He knew his power in the city and he was determined to get what his power could could bring him. I think that aspect was there. But with it came this lovely, earthy personality that was sweet and generous and giving and loved the simple foods of life.

Speaker 2 Did you do his cookbook writing, influenced your own cookbook writing at all? Did you ever refer to his books?

Speaker 1 No, no. What I did was his recipes and the banana bread that I still make. That was Jim's. And I do use there was a wonderful thing that he I learned from him, which was to make got up leftover bits of chicken and do a chicken hash. He is a great chicken hash recipe and one of his books. So I did follow some of his recipes. But writing my own recipes, I think I just I wrote them through coming from my own head. And the only person who really influenced me was, was Judith, who had a clear idea of how a book is put together, what a reader wants in a book. So I think that came from from Judith.

Speaker 2 As someone who enjoyed life and someone who can sometimes like the very finest things in terms of meals, although he did also enjoy the basic things. Did he struggle with money?

Speaker 1 I didn't see that. He never showed that aspect to me.

Speaker 2 What do you think is his greatest contribution to the food world today is?

Speaker 1 I think it would be the honesty of simple foods. Because those are the issues that I really remember, like the chicken hash and the banana bread, these are things that anybody can make and they are very deliciously done. They are the best methods to do this and get a very desirable result at the end, then I think that's what it is. And appreciating every level of food, cabbage done with bacon, you know, simple things, but that tastes good to people who know how to taste.

Speaker 3 I mean, we have to say that with prefacing it, I think Jim's biggest contribution.

Speaker 1 I'll try and remember what I said. OK, I think Jim's biggest contribution to the food world is that trust your palate, if you like simple things, eat simple things, but just make them well. So among the dishes that I like to make would be a banana bread or I love his chicken hash, which is quite delicious with just a little typical little cream board on the end. So it becomes rich, a rich chicken hash. So it's that kind of food. Trust yourself, love. If you love simple food, that's what you should eat. And don't be carried away by what big chefs are telling you to eat. And great critics are telling you to eat. Just eat what you like to eat and I'll tell you how to make it.

Speaker 2 What do you think a documentary about his life is important?

Speaker 1 His people have forgotten Jim. The real Jim, they remember the James Beard Awards and they know what he stands for in some general way, but they've forgotten the man. And I think a documentary will remind people of this great, generous big man.

Speaker 2 Why is winning a James Beard Foundation award important you've won so many, why would it be important to speak to a young chef today in particular?

Speaker 1 I think it's winning awards is a sign of recognition, and that's all it is. And I think everybody needs recognition in that field. So there's so many young chefs starting out. So if you can say I won it for best restaurant in the East or whatever you have. A little stool to stand on and be higher than a few other people, and I think that helps and everybody needs that kind of little boost, that little help.

Speaker 2 How was it important to you? You were already quite accomplished when you.

Speaker 1 Oh, I loved it. I love putting all those medals on and having my picture taken. And you get a free or whatever it is you need or something. Well, that is such fun. And it's a recognition. It's a recognition. And I think we all enjoy that.

Speaker 2 Do you have any other memories that you would like to share about Jim? Some of your favorites.

Speaker 1 I can't remember right now, I think that was it.

Speaker 3 You go to the West Coast?

Speaker 1 No, I would have loved to have done that. I would have loved to come to Portland with that narrative that.

Speaker 3 I think that's that's all I have, unless you have any, do you so what in your observation do you think is kind of the greatest change, especially maybe in food writing since when you started to know? What do you what have you noticed that has changed the most in the industry?

Speaker 1 I think the biggest change in the food industry is that the food magazines are gone, and I think that's a very sad state of affairs, Gourmet went and then, you know, one after the other, there's nothing left and they're all run by people who are watching the bottom line. So you don't get big articles, you get a little celebrity articles, nothing explored in the kind of detail that was explored before. And I think I'm a little bothered by chefs looking for the next new thing all the time. I just wish they'd just go back to the old thing and just remember how well it could be made. We were in Paris earlier this summer and just eating that traditional French food at the better places that bad places in France to just remind you of how old classical dishes can be so wonderful if somebody just themselves gets good ingredients and makes them the traditional way.

Speaker 3 On the other ingredients, how do you what are the changes, do you think have really changed the food? What we talked about FedEx with Larry Forgione help when FedEx came, it changed things as far as how fast you could get ingredients.

Speaker 1 Yeah, I think I think the great one of the other great changes other than the magazine's vanishing, is that fresh ingredients have become very important. And that was started probably that whole concept was either Alice or Jeremiah, according to who you listen to. But I think it was probably both of them that were greatly responsible for the emphasis on the product produce itself. And I think that is a wonderful change. And at the same time, to fight GMOs, we have this other aspect. So I'm glad there's something going on. At the same time, battling the GMOs, we have the other organic food, fresh food, local food division. There we are. I'm glad they're there to battle the other side, but both things are happening and we have yet to see who's going to win.

Speaker 3 What do you think? Well, let me, for the benefit of all my. Well, Barbara Kafka,

Speaker 1 did you know? Yeah, yeah, I

Speaker 3 did a little bit to Barbara and her relationship with Jim.

Speaker 1 Well, I I saw Barbara and Jim very often together, I think they worked together, but I don't know too much about that relationship. So Barbara should be the one who talks about it.

Speaker 3 Why do you think she was important, if you do know anything about her?

Speaker 1 I think she wrote a lot of stuff for him, but I'm not sure about all this. There are various people who wrote for him. Jose will say, yeah, Jose, Jose, Jose was there and Barbara. But how that relationship worked, I don't really know. But I know there were other people writing about Julia. Did you know? Yeah. Yeah. You want me to go by, Julia?

Speaker 3 If you ever saw Julia and Jim together,

Speaker 1 I have seen them together. Julia and Jim, Julie, Julia engine sounds like a French film. I have seen them together a few times, but I have no great stories that. I think. Julianne, I mean, I did things for Julia on her television series, I did one or two of them at various points, and she was not a great lover of Indian food. So even though Judith arranged many times for me to cook for Julia, it was not a food she like. She liked Chinese food, but she did not really care for Indian food. So that was the only thing that kept us slightly apart. But she did have me coming for her series a few times, and she was very generous and very kind. But again, other than that, I don't know what else to say

Speaker 3 about Craig Claiborne.

Speaker 1 Craig actually is the one who started me out in the sense that I was I had done my first film and was being shown all over in New York and all over America. And Craig did a piece on me, a food piece on an actress who likes to cook. And it was a whole page in The New York Times. And it was a wonderful piece. And as a result of that piece, I was approached by an editor who said, Would you like to do a cookbook? Wasn't Judith. It was another editor of some other publishing house. And I never eventually did the book for them. I started it, but then the house broke up into two. It was Harcourt Brace and then they broke up into two. And I had to take the book away and bring it. And I said, Where do I take it? So Friends friend advised that I take it to Judith and that's how I. So Craig was very responsible when the best Indian restaurant for that time opened, we went there with Craig and I think Dana Kennedy was there that all of us went out to dinner. And so I knew Craig and Craig had done a huge, big party in the Hamptons at which a lot of us were present. So I knew him. And I really credit him actually for being the first one to push my career. And he gave me great reviews for my first book

Speaker 2 where Craig mentioned Friendly.

Speaker 1 I don't know.

Speaker 2 Was that film Shakespeare Wallah?

Speaker 1 Yes, yes, yes, yes. It was.

Speaker 3 What about the Internet? What do you how do you think the Internet has affected home cooks? Chefs change the industry?

Speaker 1 I think a lot of people rely on on the Internet for recipes, I find I consider them to be thieves because I write the recipes and two minutes later they are on the Internet and I'm not getting my royalties. And they are all nobody is so. It's a little bothersome to me, but on the other hand, I go to the Internet when I'm looking for something. So I in a way, it's fair. In a way, it's really unfair to authors.

Speaker 3 Here you're thinking and then also just. You know, Larry, again, Forgione talked about when you were looking for information,

Speaker 1 there was no way to know I was the Internet giving. Jim knew everything you had. You were as good as your research in those days. And I remember spending a lot of time in the library doing my, you know, the Fifth Avenue Public Library, doing my research. He didn't that was the only way to do it then and traveling, which I still believe in. I think you learn the most by traveling and being a source of research for other people.

Speaker 3 Did you call on him when you had questions? The answer is I find Judith.

Speaker 1 Yeah, he did very often. I did, but I don't remember specifically because I was doing such a different kind of cooking that I probably didn't call him.

Speaker 3 Can you just also talk a little bit about kind of. He's credited with really bringing people's awareness around American product produce

Speaker 1 and American food.

Speaker 3 Yeah, food made me speak to that a little bit about why why he has been so important to that. And farm to table. He was. He did the first menu at the Four Seasons and fifty nine, and today people think they just invented farm to table.

Speaker 1 I think I'm not the best. I don't know that much. Oh, I love that period with Jim.

Speaker 3 It's an. Trying to think is very.

Unidentified I think is

Speaker 3 so great here.

Speaker 2 Yeah, at your memories and just I really got such a sense of who he was just from your memories of him to

Speaker 1 trying to think if I guess what, after you sent me the questions I was I should have jotted down, but I was thinking, oh, I should talk about this, I should do about that. But I don't remember how I thought I should talk about.

Speaker 3 Did he ever talk to you about his travels when he was younger? I mean, who was in Paris in the 20s? And then he came to New York in a later 20 years? Not that much. Any stories that he just told you about his adventures?

Speaker 1 I remember talking about his time with his mother. I think he talked more about that to me.

Speaker 3 Not so much your impression of his mother that after speaking.

Speaker 1 Somehow I pictured somebody just like him and as passionate about food and honest food and getting a Chinese chef would just be the thing she would do because any food that was good was good food. And he has he must have got that from his mother that, you know. If you can put it together well with good ingredients, it's going to be good.

Madhur Jaffrey
Interview Date:
2014-09-04
Runtime:
0:47:37
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
N/A
MLA CITATIONS:
"Madhur Jaffrey, James Beard: America's First Foodie." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 04 Sep. 2014, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1277
APA CITATIONS:
(2014, September 04). Madhur Jaffrey, James Beard: America's First Foodie. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1277
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Madhur Jaffrey, James Beard: America's First Foodie." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). September 04, 2014. Accessed December 09, 2021 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1277

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