Last week I had lunch at the culinary school at Pensacola State College with several longtime residents. For $10 each, we dined on a delicious four-course meal created by college students and served banquet-style in a posh, private dining room.
Before our meal, the talk turned to the revival of a favorite local cooking show – the only
one ever picked up for national syndication from Pensacola. Six hundred episodes of “Gourmet Cooking with Earl Peyroux” ran from 1977-1995. WSRE, the local PBS station, is rerunning the series on Saturday mornings. One lady at lunch told me that “back then everyone at the station wanted to work on the show with Earl Peyroux” — not because he was so much fun to work with, but because they got to eat the food after the shoot.
Historically, Peyroux rose to stardom at a time when a handful of great TV cooks filmed their shows from home or local station kitchens. Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet (Graham Kerr) were international stars, but my favorites were regional syndicated cooks. I enjoyed Mr. Food (Art Ginsburg – Mmm, Mm, So Good!) and David Wade, who lived in Tyler, Texas when I was living there. He redesigned his home kitchen with overhead mirrors and shot his show while wearing a debonair ascot and crested blazer. My grandmother watched Justin Wilson, who used the catch phrase of “I gawr-on-tee!” and aired on Mississippi public television.
I viewed a vintage Pensacola episode that features Peyroux, donned in a blue gourmet apron, making gumbo before a backdrop of blue cabinets (so retro) and state-of the-art electric appliances. The overhead cooking shots were excellent. The studio, which has been remodeled with lush wood cabinetry and modern appliances, now stands empty.
Our lunch talk halted when the student-server described our first course — creamy potato and kale soup inspired by Spain and Portugal. Next, a salad dressed with a touch of anchovy. Then came our fried flounder stuffed with tasso, served on potatoes with a side of lightly-wilted spinach with raisins. The dessert – two creamy puddings with mandarin oranges — completed a marvelous meal.
When leaving a fellow diner stopped at our table and said he was going to write the college president and tell him the wonderful culinary program needs publicizing. One woman at our table asked him to please help keep the secret of the culinary school. I nodded in agreement.
But on second thought, I think the culinary students should walk two blocks over to the abandoned state-of-the-art television kitchen and produce a classroom culinary series. Pensacola has kept this secret too long. I suspect everyone at the station will volunteer to work on the show and who knows — maybe it could become Pensacola’s second nationally syndicated show.
To read more about David Wade go to http://cravedfw.com/2014/05/20/remembering-david-wade-the-rembrandt-of-the-kitchen/
To view an Earl Peyroux show go to http://video.wsre.org/video/2365419429/?utm_source=WSRe-news+|+Week+of+02%2F12%2F15+-+02%2F18%2F15&utm_campaign=WSREnews&utm_medium=email
To learn more about the Pensacola State culinary secret go to http://www.pensacolastate.edu/docs/programs/chef-as/ResGuideCulinaryDiningRoom.pdf