For those of a certain age, Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet, is an icon, the male counterpart to Julia Child.
From 1969-1971, back in the days of three TV channels, he was in everyone’s living room at least once a week.
This weekend he was back on the stage, kicking off Port Angeles’ 10th annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival.
But the agenda for the Mount Vernon resident’s visit “across the ditch” was a little more ambitious: Kerr also met with “people key to the future of the peninsula” about his newest goal: “I’m longing to see my home state of Washington develop a Northwestern Cuisine — which we do not have.”
He had one additional purpose: “The world moves too fast and we’re exhausted,” he said. “We can’t catch up. But when you cross over the Hood Canal you almost immediately find yourself living at the speed of life. I came with my wife,Treena, to decompress and to see how you live.”
Kerr’s itinerary included trading stories and ideas with Gabriel Schuenemann, chef and co-owner of the Alder Wood Bistro in Sequim.
Kerr enjoyed a bit of Schuenemann’s carrot cake and sampled a four-cheese flatbread Schuenemann prepared with grapes from the bistro’s backyard. Because he is a native of England and because it was tea time, Kerr accompanied the little feast with a cup of tea and his usual charming patter, which now has graced more than 1,800 television shows.
“As a result of no longer drinking tea,” he said, “the entire British Empire has now floated out to sea.”
“No great loss, really,” he concluded.
Schuenemann agrees wholeheartedly with Kerr’s philosophy and in fact grows grapes, horseradish, edible flowers and various herbs in the small garden behind the restaurant. To the degree possible, he seeks out local produce, including oyster mushrooms grown “two blocks away.”
Thursday morning Kerr enjoyed a farm-fresh breakfast with local organic farmer Nash Huber and took a tour of the Delta Farm and Nash’s packing shed in Dungeness.
He also spent time with Nash’s staff and in talking with Huber about the importance of healthy, local
food — an enthusiasm the two share.
While in Sequim, Kerr expounded on what he calls his “mission statement.”
“Delight and do no harm to the soil, the water and the air we breathe. I am absolutely convinced that if we go on living the way we do, we will destroy the world,” he said.
He sums up his philosophy with an acronym: EGGS. “Eat, grow, gather, share. That would reduce the risk that we put to the world.”
And, he added, “We need to eat 100 percent more veggies.”
Kerr is not only a celebrated chef, but an accomplished author of more than 25 books with 14 million copies sold.
He calls the early books his “fattening books,” because they essentially were celebrations of the joys of butter and cream. When Treena suffered a heart attack, he changed his ways. Today he promotes fresh local vegetables.