A portrait of the influential food author, instructor, and personality.
While devotees of the Food Network and culinary magazines like Bon Appétit have no doubt heard of the James Beard Foundation Awards, it’s less certain that they know for whom the awards are named. Federici constructs a loving tribute to the man whose name has come to represent the highest honor in the American culinary world today, tracing the importance of Beard’s role in the history and development of modern food culture. He was the first would-be television food star – a bit too early to the table in the 1950s – and popularized entertaining at home with his nearly two dozen cookbooks, while also being a key presence at just about every social event one could imagine attending. The film draws on some enjoyable archival material, though it largely depends on a parade of interviews with and anecdotes from a who’s who of the culinary world and with those who knew the man best.