“America’s First Foodie” is a feature length documentary chronicling a century of food through the life of one man, James Beard. Beard, dubbed by the New York Times as the “Dean of American Cookery,” was a Portland native who loved and regaled the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. 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. 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 James 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.
With vivacious food and travel writer Kathleen Squires as our guide, we speak to the veritable who’s who of the food world to share memories and to explore Beard’s influence on the modern culinary scene. The film follows two Portland chefs, Cathy Whims and Naomi Pomeroy, as they make their way to the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards in New York City while simultaneously exploring the incredible life of Beard himself. The film will explore 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. “America’s First Foodie” will conclude with the reveal of the 2014 Beard Award winner from the Pacific Northwest and a final dinner on the beach at his beloved Gearhart at the Oregon coast. By marrying current footage with archival footage, interviews and recreations, we hope to create a film that truly captures the color, spirit and genius that was James Beard.
Risks and challenges
Making a film is a difficult tasks that can sometimes have a few hiccups. America's First Foodie is well into production and we are confident in our ability to finish the film in a timely fashion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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