The culinary world is populated with many a well respected chef, a smattering of superstars and a few legends. This new What the Hell feature will document the lives of those legends. Who will be the first chef in the series? Julia Child or James Beard. Hardly. This chef has achieved a fame far surpassing either of those luminaries. I am speaking of course, of Ettore (Hector) Boiardi, otherwise known as Chef Boyardee.
Chef Boyardee was born just before the turn of the twentieth century somewhere in Italy. I could tell you the actual name of the city but it would then be flooded with culinary tourists attempting to find the birthplace of the world’s greatest canned food maestro. When he was just a teenager he arrived at Ellis Island and began living in New York. He soon rose to head chef of the Plaza Hotel in New York City. He even catered Woodrow Wilson’s second wedding. Who cares if Wilson planted the seeds that became the Depression? The man knew a good spaghetti dinner when he saw one.
In the twenties, the was no hotter culinary bed than Cleveland, Ohio. That’s were Chef Boyardee opened his first restaurant. His sauce was so popular he would have to give it away in whatever container he could find, often filling customers hats with his savory marinara. He soon began mass producing the stuff in a factory outside of town. Later, he moved the factory to Pennsylvania. He grew mushrooms in the basement of his canning facility to use in his sauce. No wonder the shit sold so well, it had basement ‘shrooms in it. He also began a large scale advertising campaign with his face as the logo. This made him a sexual icon to many a housewife. He was said to have bedded two of the three Andrews Sisters. People all over America were eating his products. No one as enjoyed a level of culinary stardom before or since. Perhaps, Julia Child approaches with her television program but let’s get serious folks.
When WWII started, Chef Boyardee sold his spaghetti as rations to the army. This is the main reason we won the war and why Jewish people love microwavable beefaroni. He then sold his business to a large food conglomerate for five million dollars and took that money and invested it in steel mills. Luckily, the Korean War broke out and he made another bundle.
Chef Boyardee died, like all great men, in Parma, Ohio. He was 87. Today Chef Boyardee makes kids sick all over the world.