James Beard: America’s First Foodie
“James Beard: America’s First Foodie” is a feature length documentary about, James Beard. Beard, the man the New York Times dubbed the “Dean of American Cookery,” Beard was a Portland native who loved and regaled the bounty of the Pacific Northwest long before it would become hip to do so. He spoke of the importance of localism and sustainability long before those terms had entered the vernacular. At a time of “all things French,” Beard appreciated what America had to bring to the table. James Beard introduced Julia Child to New York, boosting her place as a culinary grande dame. Child in turn once said, “I may have brought French cooking to America, but Jim brought American cooking to America.” That tradition continues today and is embodied via modern culinary masters. A cookbook author, journalist, television celebrity and teacher, James Beard helped to pioneer and expand the food media industry into the billion-dollar business it is today.
Since Beard’s death in 1985, the Beard Foundation and House have continued his mission. The foundation is at the center of America’s culinary community and is dedicated to exploring the way food enriches our lives. The James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program helps aspiring culinary students realize their dreams by supporting them on a path to success. The Beard name has become synonymous with culinary excellence and each year thousands gather in New York City for the James Beard Foundation Awards. Often referred to as the Academy Awards of food, the annual gala has become the gastronomic highlight of the year. However, while the name is well recognized, the incredible details of Beard’s life are often unknown. We hope that this film will help preserve his story for generations to come.
We will speak to the veritable who’s who of the food world who share memories and recall Beard’s influence on the modern culinary scene. The film will delve into the big themes of Beard’s life as well as the food world itself through menu-like chapters. These will include his relationship with his mother (the true first foodie), his love of the market, his brave choice to be openly gay at a time when it was dangerous to do so and his devotion to flavor and friends.
Through a recorded and printed oral history crafted by Beard himself, archival footage and interviews, we will weave the history of American cooking and gastronomy with the story of its Founding Father and will explore how the food world has evolved since his death. We will visit the places he loved including his childhood home of Portland, the restaurants of San Francisco that he frequented with his mother, great public markets like Pike Place Market in Seattle and of course his second and final home, New York City. By marrying current footage with archival footage, interviews and animations, we hope to create a film that truly captures the color, spirit and genius that was James Beard.
The film will screen on the Emmy Award Winning PBS series American Masters on May 19th at 9 PM. Check your local listings.
The film is a co-production of Federici Films LLC and THIRTEEN Productions LLC
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
BETH FEDERICI, DIRECTOR/PRODUCER
Beth Federici is an award winning documentary filmmaker and television producer. Most recently she co-directed and produced the feature documentary “Space, Land and Time: Underground Adventures with Ant Farm”, and was awarded a 2010 Cine Golden Eagle Award. Her credits also include the documentary “Neither Here Nor There” (co-director/producer/editor) which was awarded the “Best of the Heartland” award at the Kansas City Film Festival and was broadcast on Missouri PBS as well as the award winning concert film“Bauhaus Gotham”. In addition to her work as a filmmaker, Beth is also a dedicated media educator, teaching media literacy theory and media production skills to students all over the country. She currently works as a freelance producer/editor/educator in Portland Oregon.
KATHLEEN SQUIRES, CO-PRODUCER
Kathleen Squires’ work has spanned book, blog, newsprint and glossy, with hundreds of published works ranging from restaurant reviews to travel features to pop culture paperbacks. A serial traveler who often lets a country’s cuisine dictate her itineraries, Kathleen has visited all 7 continents and 60 countries, including stints living in London, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. Kathleen’s work appears in The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Cooking Light, Fodors.com, Zagat.com, National Geographic Traveler, Budget Travel, Premier Traveler, The New York Daily News, The New York Post and Time Out New York, among many other publications. Kathleen is also the co-author of The Coolhaus Ice Cream Book (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin) and the 2014 IACP award-winning e-cookbook The Journey (Alta Editions).
GREG SNIDER, EDITOR
Bluechalk Media editor Greg Snider’s work includes the HBO documentary feature HOW TO DIE IN OREGON, winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Grand Jury Award. Greg’s editorial work on this film also won him the prestigious Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing. The film has been airing on HBO since 2011.
Greg also edited FACING THE STORM, STORY OF THE AMERICAN BISON, a co-production of High Plains Films, ITVS and Montana PBS. The film aired nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens, 2012.
His work includes editing THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN, winner of multiple film festival awards including the Audience Award at Slamdance, 2005. The documentary feature received international theatrical distribution and aired nationally on PBS. Greg edited the feature documentary PURVIS OF OVERTOWN, winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Florida Film Festival and the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. Also RIDIN’ & RHYMIN’, winner of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival’s Big Sky Award for Best Film about the American West. The film aired on Oregon and Wyoming public television.