Jeff Smith (TV personality)

Jeff Smith (TV personality)

Jeff Smith (January 22, 1939 – July 7, 2004) was the author of a dozen best-selling cookbooks and the host of "The Frugal Gourmet", a popular American cooking show which began in Tacoma, Washington and aired on PBS from 1988 to 1997, and consisted of 261 episodes. []


Jeff Smith was born on January 22, 1939. He graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 1962 and from Drew University in 1965. He started off as a United Methodist minister whose first food-related venture was the Chaplain's Pantry, a deli and kitchen supply store near downtown Tacoma, where he offered cooking classes to the public. Soon after launching the show in Tacoma, he received a cooking show on a local PBS member station in Seattle. With an appearance on the Phil Donahue show in 1983 and a move to Chicago, his career took off.

Smith wrote many books about food and cooking, including "The Frugal Gourmet" (1984), "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks With Wine" (1986), "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American" (1987), "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Rome" (1989),"The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors: Recipes You Should Have Gotten from Your Grandmother" (1990) and "The Frugal Gourmet's Culinary Handbook: An Updated Version of an American Classic on Food and Cooking" (1991), and many more that he wrote with his assistant Craig Wollam.

According to "The Seattle Times" obituary, Smith was known in the industry as a "food genius". Kathy Casey, the Times's food columnist said that "he knew more about food and culture than anybody I know in the food world." She also mentioned that Smith had been a generous philanthropist, donating both money and time to charitable causes and helping individuals get started in the food industry, even after his retirement. However, he was not without his critics. Most notably, a 1993 Harper's Magazine article entitled "P.C. on the Grill" ridiculed him as condescending, ill-informed, and for "cloth [ing] consumption in piety." Smith reportedly wept on the air when discussing this article, which he called "so profoundly hurtful I didn't know what to do."

He died in his sleep of heart disease. [ [ Jeff Smith, 1939 - 2004: "Frugal Gourmet" was popular on PBS] obituary by Judith Blake, "The Seattle Times"]

Legal Issues

His public career came to an end when two of his male assistant chefs brought charges of sexual harassment against him. Shortly thereafter, in 1998, several men alleged that he had sexually assaulted them in the 1970s, when they worked for him. [ [ Superior Court of the State of Washington complaint] archived by] Smith denied the accusations. He was taken off the air shortly afterward. Though he was never charged with a crime, he settled with the plaintiffs out of court, and never returned to the airwaves. [ [ "Cooking star pays plaintiffs in sexual abuse suits"] by Steve Behrens, "", July 27, 1998]

External links

* [ Jeff Smith bio at the Internet Movie Database]
* [ The Frugal Gourmet episode guide]


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