Beard’s journey into the entertainment industry first began when he studied briefly at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He believes he was largely expelled due to his openness about being gay.
In the show, Beard makes no secret about his sexuality. In real life, he shared it openly with friends and colleagues within the food industry.
After college, Beard traveled across Europe to study voice and theater acting before returning to the United States in 1927. Although he kept trying to get into performing onstage as an opera singer, he decided to go into what he knew best: cooking.
“It was just a part of his existence from the very beginning with his mother, who owned a boarding house with a restaurant. Beard grew up around the kitchen and around food,” Guterman said.
In today’s television industry, we have an entire network dedicated to food, but in Beard’s era, he WAS the food network.
Chef Satterfield said, “Today everything is kind of flashy and highly edited with a lot of drama. He [Beard] was just making a recipe. From what I can remember, he was just very straight-forward, simple, single camera and with him just cooking on camera.”
International chef Julia Child took direction from her friend James Beard when she was starting her career in television cooking. They appeared later together on TV when they co-hosted shows.
Among his philanthropic adventures, Beard also co-founded “Citymeals on Wheels.” It started in 1981 as a one-time food delivery to 6,000 elderly New York neighbors on Christmas. Since then, the operation has grown into a nonprofit organization that has delivered millions of meals to low-income and elderly people. Today, they serve over 18,000 meals a day in the New York area.
You can see the play at Theatrical Outfit’s Balzer Theater at Herren’s starting April 13 and running through May 5.