To be a star, he couldn’t be himself… Before the James Beard Awards and the James Beard Foundation, there was the man himself. Beard was the first celebrity chef of the TV era, preaching home cooking and fresh, local food even as frozen TV dinners gained popularity. But he also had to navigate the complexities of being a closeted gay man in a time when the kitchen was considered a place for women. Food writer John Birdsall talks with Dan about his new biography, The Man Who Ate Too Much, which traces Beard’s life from his start at queer cocktail parties in 1930s New York, to his winks to the queer audience as he became more famous, to the eventual need to change his public persona into a professorial bachelor, too obsessed with food to have time for a wife. As we hear, even today, James Beard remains one of the most misunderstood people in the food world. //

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Transcript available at www.sporkful.com.