Jeff Smith, PBS' "The Frugal Gourmet," dead at age 65.
Hadn't heard much out of the Frug since his private woes went public back in 1997. I can't say that I know what drove the guy personally -- but I will say that he pretty much inspired me to get off my ass and to start cooking decent food for myself. I was never all that much for many recipes before I started watching his program, although I did make a dynamite tomato sauce for pasta then. But my repertoire was seriously limited, for sure.
He had a way of making cooking look easy. And he had a goofy manner that normally would have bugged the heck out of me as a viewer, but somehow, it never put me off. Quick with a joke or a smile, he offered practical advice like, "Hot wok, cold oil; food won't stick." I'd even watched some Justin Wilson at that point, although it was the Frug that had me picking up his book, "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American," and had inspired me put together my first etoufeé. Simple, elegant, and tasty. He was in so many ways what Julia Child and her ilk never were for me: interesting, thoughtful, and motivational.
Even when the recipes weren't 100% on, he'd inspired enough confidence in my practice of cooking to improvise, and to choose my own manner of preparation.
For whatever troubles you had in life, Jeff, you were an important part of my young adult life.
And I bid you peace.