Chris Cosentino shares the mysterious story of how he discovered James Beard’s legacy.


Known for winning “Top Chef Masters” and for his palate-pleasing offal dishes, Chris Cosentino shares the surprising story of how he discovered James Beard’s work and legacy.

Major funding for James Beard: America’s First Foodie is provided by Feast it Forward. Additional funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and Art Works.


Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.

We didn't really have much education about Mr. Beard when I was in culinary school.

I was in school 92 to 94, in Johnson Wales in Providence, Rhode Island.

Mr. Beard wasn't part of that.

Nobody really explained to us who he was.

When I started working in Washington, D.C. for Mark Miller, I was living in a neighborhood, in an area called Mount Pleasant, and a book slid right in the slot.

No idea where it came from.

It was a book that I'd never seen before. It just showed up at my house, and I think it was maybe one of the neighbors that knew I was cooking but had access to all these books and it came with a little piece of paper and it said, 'not for resale.'

It was a book that hadn't come out yet.

It was kind of an autobiography, a biography of Mr. Beard.

Pretty eye-opening, you know. So I think that was like maybe fall of 94, you know, and it was the first introduction I really had to him