Grown up in Japan, I always enjoyed watching cooking shows on TV.
I have no idea exactly when I started watching TV shows. What I remember now is that I have a vivid image of my father watching “Galloping Gourmet” by Graham Kerr, and I was right next to him watching with him.
There was only one TV in my house, and my dad controlled what we could watch, meaning, we were able to watch only what he wanted. Galloping Gourmet was on Sunday morning. Because it was Sunday and my father thought I had more time to do homework, he let me watch the show.
The fact that it was cooking show was not what fascinated me. What stimulated my curiosity was the way the host entertained the audience. It was not how Graham Kerr chopped the vegetables that mesmerized me. It was not how innovative his recipes were. It was definitely not his cooking techniques I was drawn to. He was, rather clumsy and even a child with no cooking experience could tell he was not a great cook.
What mesmerized me was how he charmed and captivated the studio audience, as well as me, with his talks, wits, and facial expressions as he sautéed meats, pour some wine, and took a sample bite of mouth-watering over roasted lamb.
Sipping a glass of Bordeaux, dressed up in a tuxedo, Graham Kerr was cool, sexy, charming, charismatic, and entertaining.
I believe, to this date, Graham Kerr had and has one of the greatest influences on the way I conduct my cooking classes.
Before I knew it, I was helping my mother by doing daily grocery shopping, with a list in my hand. I was the only “boy” in school uniform waiting at the checkout line at a supermarket during the busy evening hour. I felt like I was the only male customer in the entire store, as the rest of the were housewives, in a hurry, eager to go back to their home so that they could start cooking the dinner. Because I was just about the only male customer in the store, I stood out from the crowd, and everyone in the supermarket stared at me. Some of them said to me, “Oh, you are doing errands for your mom. How wonderful it is.”
Now looking back, this childhood experience was a great training. As an adult, I do enjoy going grocery shopping and farmer’s market looking at fresh seasonal ingredients and new products on the shelf.
After “Galloping Gourmet,” I watched many other cooking shows on TV and thought, there were boring. They were straight forward cooking shows with the chef explaining the ingredients, demonstrating how to cook the dish. There were no jokes, no drinking wines, no tuxedos and no audience laughing and eat the dish at the end of the show. The (usually female) chef talked about the ingredients, how to prep, cut them and started cooking and voila, it’s done.
Still, “Regular” cooking shows served me well. I looked at them as a tool for me to learn or more like an education program on TV. I started to write down the recipes I liked from those shows and handed to my mother, telling she should try to make it because it looked good. When she cooked the dish for dinner, she gave me some for tasting asked me how it turned out, so I tried it first and told her what I thought. If and when the recipe got my approval, my mom serves it to the whole family for dinner. If everyone likes the dish, then it became the regular item on the menu.