James Beard doc debuting in May kicks off four-flick "Chefs Flight"

Alongside Beard, the American Masters series spotlights Julia Child, Alice Waters and Jacques Pépin.

click to enlarge Chef James Beard in his New York kitchen. - Dan Wynn
Dan Wynn
Chef James Beard in his New York kitchen.

Next month, the premiere of a new James Beard documentary, James Beard: America's First Foodie, kicks off a four-flick "Chefs Flight" on PBS.

America's First Foodie, debuting nationally on May 13 during the 31st season of American Masters, explores a century of food through the story of the pioneering Portland native behind the coveted awards now known as the "culinary Oscars." Docs on three other food legends — Julia Child (with whom Beard became best buds), Alice Waters and Jacques Pépin — will follow as part of the American Masters "Chefs Flight."

Julia! America's Favorite Chef airs after the Beard film on May 13, while Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft and Alice Waters and Her Delicious Revolution are set for May 26. Culinarians should check their local listings for exact times.

With appearances from James Beard Award Foundation representatives, celebrated chefs and others, America's First Foodie highlights include Pépin discussing what it was like to cook with Beard; TV host and Beard Award winner Ted Allen disclosing Beard's challenges being an "out" gay man back when same-sex sexual activity was illegal; and how the influence of the cookbook author/journalist/TV celeb lives on through the next generation of chefs.

"Beard was a passionate teacher, who nurtured a generation of American chefs and cookbook authors," said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters, in a statement. "His pioneer work transformed American cuisine and forever changed the way we cook, consume and think about food."

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