When you think of celebrity chefs, you probably think of the chefs of today's television fame. But, before there was Emeril, Paula Deen, Jamie Oliver or Ina Garten, there were chefs who may have ended up on television but didn't know when they started out that it was even a possibility.
The United States Post Office will honor some of the early celebrity chefs when they release five Celebrity Chef Forever Stamps. According to the USPS website, these five chefs "revolutionized our understanding of food."
Seeing cooking as a source of delight, they invited us to feast on regional and international flavors and were early but ardent champions of trends that many foodies now take for granted. As they shared their know-how, they encouraged us to undertake our own culinary adventures.
- James Beard (1903-1985) — Beard was a cookbook author and teacher who wrote over 20 cookbooks during his time. He championed American cooking and is regarded by many as the father of American gourmet cooking. The most prestigious restaurant and chef awards in the country, The James Beard Awards, are named for him. They are often referred to as the Oscars of the food world.
- Julia Child (1912-2004) — Arguably the most recognizable of this list to those outside the food world, Child became known to Americans as a French chef. Her first cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was published in 1961 and led to her becoming "The French Chef" on American television — one of the first celebrity cooking shows.
- Edna Lewis (1916-2006) — Lewis published three cookbooks on refined Southern cooking that also described the African-American farm life in the early 1900s. She owned Café Nicholson, in Manhattan’s East Side, a restaurant frequented by celebrities. Many African-American chefs point to Lewis as their inspiration.
- Joyce Chen (1917-1994) — Owner and operator of several Chinese restaurants in Massachusetts, Chen popularized Mandarin Chinese cooking in the United States. She was a cookbook author and host of a PBS cooking show. She also launched her own line of specialty foods and cookware.
- Felipe Rojas-Lombardi (1945-1991) — Spanish cuisine was Rojas-Lombardi's specialty. Born in Peru, he brought the cooking knowledge he learned in his native country to New York City and became the founding chef of Dean & Deluca gourmet food store. He wrote two cookbooks and is credited with bringing the Spanish concept of tapas to America.