John McLain’s steely voice packs a punch when performing this turbulent rags-to-riches story of America’s first celebrity television chef. Tracing Chef Tell’s (née Friedman Paul Erhardt) life from birth in Stuttgart, Germany, during World War II to his early career, to his television fame, Ronald Joseph Kule’s impeccably researched biography, Chef Tell: The Biography of America's Pioneer TV Showman Chef reveals the inner life that fans may not have known about. This absorbing story has much to say about the big personality of this much-beloved German American culinary giant.
"Tell started all this television madness about chefs." - Regis Philbin. Before the heyday of the Food Network, there was Chef Tell - TV persona of Friedemann Paul Erhardt, America's first TV showman chef. Big on personality and flavor, Chef Tell was once called by Philadelphia magazine the "affably roguish Bad Boy of the Philadelphia restaurant world." Chef Tell explores how a young German American chef became America's biggest TV celebrity chef of his time. Most of Chef Tell's forty million baby boomer viewers - a number comparable to Julia Child's - never knew his fascinating, hardscrabble life story. Until now.
This winning biography puts us "behind the line" inside his kitchen and inside his, at times, turbulent personal life. Tell not only charmed, worked, entertained and taught audiences to cook on live television shows, but, a quick-witted perfectionist, he also demanded only the freshest ingredients for his life of food, fame, fortune, and women. Chef Tell's life - his colleagues would agree - was a managed, complicated and mercurial affair, which changed two industries and the taste buds of millions of home cooks. An absorbing account of an extraordinary man, Chef Tell brings us through his personal and professional highs and lows, and his glorious successes, explaining why so many loved or hated him then and miss him dearly now. The day Chef Tell passed on, messages of surprise and shock flooded the media. "Chef Tell has died? Stick a fork in him, he's done," one wrote. Chef Tell would have loved that. Listeners will soon know why and agree.