Jeff Smith (TV personality)
|Born||January 22, 1939
|Died||July 7, 2004
|Spouse||Patricia "Patty" Smith (1966–death)|
Jeffrey L. 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 around 1973 and aired on PBS from 1983 to 1997 (as produced by member station WTTW Chicago), and numbered 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.
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. Chicago food and wine columnist William Rice wrote, "I've tried to cook his stuff, and let's say it was hit or miss. Some things worked and others didn't." A 1992 Harper's Magazine article by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison 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."
The theme music for The Frugal Gourmet was a portion of the famous Water Music by George Frideric Handel, specifically the Bourrée movement of the Suite in F major (HWV 348). Jeff would close each show by saying, "Until I see you again, this is The Frugal Gourmet. I bid you peace. Bye-bye."
Sexual abuse allegations and settlement
In 1997 seven men filed suit against Smith alleging that he sexually abused them when they were teens. Six of the plaintiffs alleged that the abuse occurred in the 1970s while they were working for Smith at the Chaplain's Pantry, a deli and catering service in Tacoma, Washington. The seventh plaintiff alleged that he was sexually assaulted in 1992 at age 14 while hitchhiking. Smith denied the accusations, and the suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in 1998.
Smith died in his sleep on July 7, 2004 of heart disease. He was survived by his wife Patricia, and sons Channing and Jason, as well as daughters-in-law Yuki and Lisa.
- Frugal Gourmet (1984)
- Cooks with Wine (1986)
- Cooks American (1987)
- Three Ancient Cuisines (1989)
- Colonial Christmas (1990)
- Our Immigrant Ancestors (1990)
- Celebrates Christmas (1991)
- Culinary Handbook (1991)
- Whole Family Cookbook (1992)
- Cooks Italian (1993)
- Keeps the Feast (1995)
- "Frugal Gourmet - Episode Guide - MSN TV". Tv.msn.com. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "P.C. on the grill: The Frugal Gourmet, lambasted and skewered, By Barbara Grizzuti Harrison (Harper's Magazine)". Harpers.org. Retrieved 2011-09-06.(subscription required)
- Kristin Dizon (July 9, 2004). "Jeff Smith, 1939-2004: The 'Frugal Gourmet' was TV's original celebrity chef". Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
- Superior Court of the State of Washington complaint archived by TheSmokingGun.com
- "The Seattle Times: Living: Jeff Smith, 1939 - 2004: "Frugal Gourmet" was popular on PBS". Seattletimes.nwsource.com. 2004-07-10. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "Cooking star pays plaintiffs in sexual abuse suits" by Steve Behrens, Current.org, July 27, 1998
- Jeff Smith, 1939 - 2004: "Frugal Gourmet" was popular on PBS obituary by Judith Blake, The Seattle Times
- Collins, Glenn (February 10, 1988), "'Frugal Gourmet': A Minister Makes Food His Mission", The New York Times: C1
- Jeff Smith bio at the Internet Movie Database
- The Frugal Gourmet at the Internet Movie Database
- The Frugal Gourmet episode guide