Graham Kerr

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This article is about the cooking personality. For the Scottish embryologist and Member of Parliament, see John Graham Kerr. For the Australian rules footballer, see Graham Kerr (footballer).
Graham Kerr
Born (1934-01-22) 22 January 1934 (age 82)
Education Brighton College
Spouse(s) Treena Kerr
Children 3
Culinary career

Graham Kerr (born 22 January 1934) is an English cooking personality who is best known for his 1969-1971 television cooking show The Galloping Gourmet.

Early life[edit]

Kerr was born in London, and his parents were established hoteliers. As a result, much of his childhood was spent among some of the most outstanding chefs of Europe. He was educated at the independent school Brighton College.

Early career[edit]

Kerr became trainee manager at the Roebuck Hotel in East Sussex, England, when he was just fifteen years old. After five years in the British Army as catering adviser, he became General Manager of England's Royal Ascot Hotel.

Move to New Zealand and Entertaining With Kerr[edit]

Kerr moved to New Zealand in 1958, becoming chief chef catering adviser for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

He moved into television with the emergence of the new medium in New Zealand, after being recruited by NZBC producer Shirley Maddock. In 1959 he began hosting the television show Entertaining With Kerr, in which he appeared dressed in military uniform.[1] His recipes were also delivered on radio and in magazines, and a related book, Entertaining with Kerr, sold out its first edition in eight days.

Move to Australia[edit]

Shortly after the NZTV series was launched, promoter Anthony Hollows introduced Kerr to his business partner, rising New Zealand entertainment promoter and artist manager Harry M. Miller. Miller was at first skeptical of taking Kerr on, having just lost heavily on a disastrous folk music concert promotion, but Hollows was insistent, and after seeing Kerr in action, Miller immediately saw his potential. When he met with Kerr, Miller learned that Kerr had already tried unsuccessfully to break into the much more lucrative Australian television market, but Miller (who was already well-established across the Tasman Sea as a concert promoter) was confident that he could launch Kerr in Australia. Kerr signed on as Miller's first management client, and the relationship proved enormously important and financially rewarding to both men. Miller was instrumental in launching Kerr in Australia, and then internationally, and Kerr's breakthrough in turn laid the foundation for Miller's own success as a leading player in the Australian and New Zealand entertainment industry over the next 20 years.[2]

In 1964 Kerr moved to Sydney,[1] and through his Australian contacts Miller was soon able to sign Kerr to present a regular cooking show on Channel 10, also called Entertaining With Kerr, as part of Australia's recently established third commercial television outlet, the TEN Network. Although Kerr's initial fee was modest, Miller wisely balanced that against the value of the exposure, sure that Kerr would make such an impact that they could call the tune for any further series. The show quickly became a huge national success, leading to daily radio spots, newspaper and magazine columns, personal appearances and lucrative product endorsements. Miller also cited winemaker and critic Len Evans as being especially helpful to Kerr in these early days. Miller soon scored another coup when he signed the multinational food company Nestlé as Kerr's first major sponsor.

At some point Kerr's television ratings took a dive, and the series was cancelled. However, his radio show continued. On the recommendation of the wife of a board member, who listened to Kerr's radio show, the Australian Dairy Board signed Kerr to what Miller described as an endorsement contract "of staggering proportions", and Kerr was soon back on national television.[2]

In his autobiography My Story, Miller recounted that "the sweetest contract I offered Graham was one he refused to sign". In the mid-1960s, Union Carbide, the manufacturers of Glad Wrap approached Miller with a lucrative offer for Kerr to become their national endorser. All Kerr had to do was make a few commercials, pose for a few photos, and use the product on his cooking show. Sensing the huge potential of the new product, Miller cannily negotiated for a multi-year contract in which Kerr was to receive a royalty of about 0.5c on every unit sold, instead of a flat fee. To Miller's astonishment, however, Kerr was unimpressed by Glad Wrap, and despite Miller's strenuous effort to demonstrate its enormous usefulness, Kerr remained unconvinced, pacing about the office and saying "I don't want to hear any more. It'll never sell, it'll never sell." Consequently, Kerr and Miller missed out on what would have been one of the biggest windfalls of his career.[2]

Move to Canada and The Galloping Gourmet[edit]

Miller and Kerr parted ways in the late 1960s after Kerr received a lucrative offer from American television company Fremantle International. Although his management contract with Miller still had several years to run, Kerr and Miller agreed to a negotiated buy-out; the two parted ways amicably, and remained good friends.

Kerr's new series for Fremantle, The Galloping Gourmet (1969–71), named for his onscreen persona, was taped in Ottawa at CJOH-TV and produced by his wife Treena Kerr. The origin of his 'Galloping Gourmet' persona stemmed from a 1967 book he co-authored with wine expert Len Evans, The Galloping Gourmets. The nickname was the result of a 35-day worldwide trek to the finest restaurants around the globe. The show was filmed in front of a live audience. The title was echoed in the opening of each episode, where Kerr entered the stage area by running in and leaping over a chair in the dining room set (a stunt conceived by Treena).[3]

Many episodes featured a pre-recorded segment in which Kerr was shown visiting the part of the world in which the dish being prepared that in that episode originated.[3]

The series was known for its lighthearted humour, tomfoolery and the copious use of clarified butter, cream and fat. A famous line of Kerr's on the show was his response to someone's criticism of his cooking: "Madam, you could go outside and get run over by a bus and just think what you would have missed!" He also liberally featured wine, serving it with most meals, using it in his dishes, and waxing poetic about its virtues. He would also raise a glass of wine to his lips as a cue to the director to cut to commercials, then would bring it back up to his lips right before the show came back on. This gave the impression to some viewers that he was drinking heavily during the taping, though in reality he drank very little.[3]

In an ongoing feature of the show, Kerr would make his way into the audience as the closing credits began and select an audience member (usually female) whom he would invite onstage with him to enjoy whatever dish he had just prepared. Another recurring feature at the end of each show would be a close up of Kerr as he sampled the dish he had just cooked. To "oohs and ahs" from the audience, he would pull a face as though he was in ecstasy from tasting his latest creation.

The Galloping Gourmet was a huge hit, and earned two Emmy Award nominations. During its run, Kerr became a worldwide sensation and wrote an abundance of cookbooks. However, he was pilloried by many of the elite of the food world of the time, including influential food writer Michael Field, who called Kerr "the Liberace of the food world", and James Beard, who wrote that Kerr "has very little respect for food".[3]

From 1969 to 1972, Kerr also made guest appearances on Monitor, a long-running NBC radio variety program.[4]

Personal setbacks, born-again Christianity and Take Kerr[edit]

Some near-tragedies caused Kerr to suspend his television career, thus ending the show. In April 1971, Kerr and his wife Treena were involved in a car accident in California. As a result of the accident, he suffered a dislocated spine and a weakened right arm. As therapy, Kerr had to wear a one-pound bracelet in order to strengthen the weakened arm. Then in January 1972, Treena was at first diagnosed with lung cancer and given a year to live. That diagnosis turned out to be incorrect; it was later determined she had tuberculosis and part of her lungs had to be removed. She went on to make a full recovery.[5]

By 1975, Treena had developed an addiction to painkillers, as well as "violent visions". She took up Christianity based on the recommendation of an employee, and almost immediately her symptoms improved. As a result, Graham, too, embraced Christianity.[6] The couple joined an evangelical Christian "Born-Again" ministry based in Washington, D.C.

Kerr returned to television in 1975 with a daily, syndicated five-minute series, Take Kerr, which featured a particular recipe for each show. This programme reflected Kerr's newfound embrace of both Christianity and healthy eating, with lighter-calorie recipes and Christian elements, including the use of the hymn "This Is the Day the Lord Has Made" as a theme song.[6] This programme lasted one series. One Christian element on the show, an inclusion of a passage from the Bible in the closing credits, was strongly resisted by some of the stations on which the show aired, and indirectly caused Kerr to lose millions of dollars in potential revenue due to his unwillingness to compromise.[7] This series was later repeated on CNN during its first year or so on the air.

In a 1975 interview publicizing Take Kerr, Kerr renounced the show The Galloping Gourmet, saying that "What I did wasn't art, it was a crime," given the high rate of obesity then in the United States. He also apologized for two of his trademarks on that show, his wine drinking and his double entendres.[6] He stated that he was trying to convince TV stations to remove reruns of the show from syndication.[6]

"Minimax", The Graham Kerr Show and Graham Kerr's Kitchen[edit]

After his wife Treena's stroke, then heart attack in 1986, Kerr was prompted to create a new style of cooking that he dubbed "Minimax". This new method of food preparation minimised ("Mini-") fat and cholesterol, while it maximised ("-max") aroma, colour, texture and taste. Minimax led to The Graham Kerr Show, originally produced at KING-TV in Seattle and later syndicated to local stations during the 1990–91 season, followed by a run on the Discovery Channel. From 1992 to 1995, Kerr starred on the PBS show Graham Kerr's Kitchen, which again embraced the low-fat, "minimax" approach.

Minimax also led to three successful cookbooks: Graham Kerr's Smart Cooking, Graham Kerr's Minimax Cookbook and Graham Kerr's Creative Choices (A Minimax Book) along with corresponding series on public television.

Later career: 1995-present[edit]

In 1995, he appeared in a PBS special with Julia Child called Cooking in Concert: Julia Child & Graham Kerr.[8]

In 1996, Kerr, in his book of that year called Swiftly Seasoned, created the concept of a "Moulded Ethnic Vegetable", a baked combination of starches and vegetables seasoned with flavours characteristic of different ethnic cuisines. The "MEV", as he referred to it in recipes, was intended to remedy what he perceived as a lack of focus in vegetarian meals; according to Kerr, while omnivorous cuisine generally has a central focus in a meat dish, vegetarian plates are often little more than collections of side dishes, and the MEV was an attempt to provide a central focus for such meals. The MEV was not a widely successful concept, and a business venture to manufacture and sell a muffin tin-like MEV baking pan was not successful. (While it was generally intended to be vegetarian, Kerr did incorporate meats into some MEV recipes in later books.)

From 1996 to 2000, Kerr was also the editor-at-large for Cooking Light magazine.[1]

Since the late 1990s, Graham Kerr was also seen in a series of radio and television features for the National Cancer Institute's 5 A Day program, called Do Yourself a Flavor, which emphasizes the use of fruits and vegetables in recipes. Meanwhile, Kerr's earlier series, including The Galloping Gourmet, has aired in the US on Food Network and Cooking Channel.

He works directly with Bastyr University and many businesses looking for innovation, better-health and good taste.

Awards and accolades[edit]

In 2003, Graham Kerr received an honorary doctorate for culinary arts and nutrition from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.[9]


Celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Charlie Trotter have both stated that they were fans of The Galloping Gourmet as children.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Kerr married Treena née Van Doom, an English actress, on 22 September 1955.[1] They first met when they were both eleven years old.[1] They had three children together: Tessa (born 1956), Graham (born 1960) and Kareena (born 1968).[1]

Kerr has lived in Mount Vernon, Washington for several years. Treena Kerr died on 17 September 2015, several days before what would have been their 60th wedding anniversary.[10]


  • Kerr, G. (1963). Entertaining with Kerr. Wellington: A.H. and A.W. Reed
  • Kerr, G. (1966). The Graham Kerr Cookbook. Wellington: A.H. and A.W. Reed (this cookbook was released in a distinctive spiral binding, with heavy covers)
  • Kerr, G., & Evans, L. (1967). The galloping gourmets. Sydney: A.H. & A.W. Reed.
  • Kerr, G. (1969). The Graham Kerr cookbook, by the galloping gourmet. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.
  • Kerr, G. (1970). The Galloping Gourmet's Kitchen Diary.
  • Kerr, G. (1972). The complete galloping gourmet cookbook. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
  • Kerr, G. (Early 1970s). A Festive Occasion, Just For You (a record album). Fremantle Records.
  • Kerr, G. (1976). The new seasoning. New York: Simon & Schuster / Fleming H. Revell.
  • Kerr, G. (1978). The love feast: How good, natural, wholesome food can create a warm and lasting Christian family. New York: Simon & Schuster / Fleming H. Revell.
  • Kerr, G., & Kerr, T. (1982). The Graham Kerr Step By Step Cookbook. David C. Cook Publishing Company.
  • Kerr, G. (1991). Graham Kerr's smart cooking. New York: Doubleday.
  • Kerr, G. (1993). Graham Kerr's minimax cookbook. New York: Doubleday.
  • Kerr, G. (1994). Graham Kerr's kitchen. New York: G.P. Putnam's.
  • Kerr, G. (1995). Graham Kerr's best: A low fat, heart healthy cookbook. New York: G.P. Putnam's.
  • Kerr, G. (1996). Graham Kerr's swiftly seasoned. New York: G.P. Putnam's.
  • Kerr, G. (1997). The gathering place: Informal international menus that bring family and friends back to the table. Stanwood, WA: Camano Press.
  • Kerr, G. (2002). The gathering place: Featuring Nutrient-Rich Comfort Food. Quarry Press.
  • Kerr, G., & Suzanne, B. (2004). Graham Kerr's simply splenda cookbook. Alexandria, VA: Small Steps Press.
  • Kerr, G., & Kerr, T. (2004). Charting a course to wellness: Creative ways of living with heart disease and diabetes. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association.
  • Kerr, G., & Kerr, T. (2006). Recipe For Life.
  • Kerr, T., & Kerr, G. (2007). Day by Day Gourmet Cookbook. Broadman & Holman.

Television Cookbooks[edit]

In addition, seven volumes of "Television Cookbooks", featuring recipes from The Galloping Gourmet series, were published from 1969 to 1971 by the show's syndicator, Fremantle International. Four versions were known to exist—a regular version, plus three additional versions released in conjunction with KABC-TV in Los Angeles, CBC Television in Canada and the BBC in Britain. The Fremantle and KABC versions were hardcover, while the CBC and BBC versions, though identical in content, were softcover and GBC-bound, with different covers (with the BBC version under the title Entertaining With Kerr). These cookbooks were generally sold by mail order, through the television series.

In 1972, the cookbooks were re-released with new colour covers and sold in bookshops. This new version was sold by Paperback Library but, despite the publisher's name, the books were hardcover.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Graham Kerr". Cook's Info. 
  2. ^ a b c Harry M. Miller (with Dennis O'Brien), My Story, (Macmillan Company, 1983), pp.147-151
  3. ^ a b c d e David Kamp (2006). The United States of Arugula. Broadway Books. pp. 109–113. 
  4. ^ The Monitor Tribute Pages; The Sounds of Monitor Retrieved on 2012-03-29.
  5. ^ "Gourmet Kerr Off On Yacht", Sarasota, FL – Journal newspaper, 24 Jul 1972
  6. ^ a b c d Baker, Ann (Oct 3, 1975). "TV's Galloping Gourmet a Changed Man". The Register-Guard. 
  7. ^ Donna Lynne Siewert. "Galloping Gourmet Changes Directions". Living Light News. Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  8. ^ Alacarte Communications; Julia and Jacque Retrieved on 2009-03-28.
  9. ^ Graham Kerr Biography Website
  10. ^ Peninsula Daily News

External links[edit]