humorfood cooking

Culinary Cameos

Chef Boyardee
(1898 – 1985)

Hector Boyardi (the original spelling) was born in Italy in 1898, and began working in kitchens at 11 years of age. By the age of 17 he was well known for his culinary talents, and in 1915 he moved to New York to join his brother, who was a waiter at the Plaza Hotel. He worked as part of the kichen staff there as well as in other New York hotel kitchens. At The Greenbriar Hotel in West Virginia he personally catered President Woodrow Wilson's wedding.  

Three years later he opened his own restaurant, Il Giardino d'Italia, where his spaghetti sauce was so popular, he was soon selling it in milk bottles for his customers to take home. Producing the sauce in an adjacent building, he expanded to include dry pasta and packets of cheese to go with the sauce. As the sauce business expanded, he Americanized his name to Chef Boyardee, and moved production to Pennsylvania, where the company later merged with American Home Products (now International Home Foods).

"Aunt Jemima" (Nancy Green)
(1834 – September 24, 1923)

Chris L. Rutt and Charles G. Underwood purchased the Pearl Milling Company in 1889, and came up with the novel idea of creating a ready-mixed pancake flour. Rutt named it for a catchy tune called "Aunt Jemima", which he had recently heard in a vaudeville show. Rutt and Underwood went broke in 1890, and sold the formula for the pancake mix to the RT Davis Milling Company. Davis searched for a woman to represent the product, and hired an African-American woman named Nancy Green from Chicago, Illinois.

At the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago, in an effort to promote the new pancake mix, Davis built the world's largest flour barrel. "Aunt Jemima" (Nancy Green) demonstrated how to use the new mix, and the exhibit was so popular, police were called in to control the crowds at the Aunt Jemima booth. Nancy Green was awarded a medal and proclaimed "Pancake Queen" by the Fair officials. She was soon signed to a lifetime contract with Davis and toured all over the country, demonstrating the new Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix. By 1910, it was available nationally and Nancy played the part until her death in a car accident in 1923. The Quaker Oats Company of Chicago purchased the Aunt Jemima Mills in 1925.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
(April 1, 1775 – February 2, 1826)

Brillat-Savarin was a French lawyer, magistrate and politician, who wrote one of the most celebrated works on food, Physiologie du Gout, which was published only months before his death. It consists of eight volumes but contains few recipes. There are many anecdotes and observations covering all aspects of the pleasures of the table. Brillat-Savarin spent two years in America after the French Revolution and supported himself by giving language lessons and playing violin in a New York orchestra. The greatest gastronome the world has ever known, he introduced Americans to French ices and the art of fondue.

(lived in the 17th or 18th century)

A Swiss pastry chef (possibly of Italian origin) who is said to have invented the meringue in 1720 (or 1600, by some sources) in Merhrinyghen, a small town in the State of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a canton in Switzerland. This is very close to Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes met his 'doom' at the hands of his arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, in A.C. Doyles' "The Final Problem."

Gasparini's creation of meringue has passed down to us through the royalty of Europe such as King Stanislas, Marie Leczinska and Queen Marie-Antoinette.