Earlier this week I told you about the USPS’s Celebrity Chef Forever Stamps. The stamps celebrate five of America’s earliest celebrity chefs including Julia Child and James Beard. The chefs on those stamps seem relatively modern compared to some of the chefs mentioned in Yale professor Paul Freedman’s MAD symposium talk, “Celebrity Chefs, Past and Present.”

MAD is a non-profit working to “build a community of cooks, purveyors, and thinkers with an appetite for knowledge and a desire to improve the restaurant trade.” Each summer the organization holds a two-day symposium in Copenhagen and makes all of the talks available on line for free.

Freedman was one of the speakers at this year’s symposium, and his talk at August’s event is educational and very interesting if you’re into all things food, restaurant and chef.

He starts by talking about the earliest evidence of celebrity, chef Miticus of Syracuse, mentioned by Plato. This chef was praised during his time. During the 23-minute talk, Freedman discusses ingredients that have gone extinct, the invention of the restaurant in the 1800s, the first female chefs, and goes through the changes that over the centuries that have brought us to the chef-driven restaurants and celebrity chefs that we know today.

I enjoyed hearing about the history of the French style of service (115 courses!) and the Russian style of service in restaurants. It’s a little bit of knowledge I didn’t know – there’s quite a bit of knowledge in this talk that I didn’t know – that I think I’d like to know more about.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Even Plato wrote about celebrity chefs
Who knew that one of the founders of Western philosophy had a favorite chef?