What The Galloping Gourmet Chef Graham Kerr Is Doing Today

Graham Kerr, better known as The Galloping Gourmet, was one of the earliest on-air food personalities, and is still captivating audiences today — just in different ways. Famous for leaping over chairs onstage with glasses of wine to start his show, Kerr made cooking fun. He would make jokes and innuendo in front of a live studio audience starting in the late 1960s, using his native British accent to turn on the charm. The New York Times reports he was known as "the high priest of hedonism."

His nickname didn't come from the chair jumping, however. Kerr actually had published a cookbook in 1966, prior to the start of the television show, titled "The Graham Kerr Cookbook by The Galloping Gourmet." The galloping presumably came from Kerr's quest (covered in the book) to find the world's best restaurants in 35 days. The show only ran for two seasons (ending prematurely due to a personal tragedy), but was a huge success while on the air, garnering two Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Achievement in Daytime Programming.

Kerr legacy lives on, even as he has stepped away (mostly) from the cooking world. Read on to learn what this charismatic Brit has been up to!

Kerr became a devout born-again Christian

At the height of "The Galloping Gourmet's" success, a tragedy struck. Kerr's wife, Treena Kerr, was a producer on the show (and in fact, is the one who suggested Kerr's signature move of jumping over chairs with wine). In 1971, Graham and Treena were on the road when they were in a rear-end collision with a vegetable truck. Graham recounted to Seattle Refined, "How we were not killed, nobody knows. I was partially paralyzed on my left side, I couldn't jump over a chair. And Treena at that stage said 'I've had it.'"

The two decided to end the show to focus on their health, at first setting sail on an enormous yacht to see the world with their three children. During this time, Graham saw the discrepancy in how some countries' populations had a bounty of food, while others were on the brink of starvation, and that, paired with his and Treena's recoveries, led him to re-discover his Christianity.

With his new-found relationship to God, he also re-examined his approach to food. He decided as a servant in the world, he would help people eat better, and abandon his focus on the calorie-rich meals of his past. Kerr also gave up his signature alcohol — the days of the Galloping Gourmet were officially behind him.

He hosts prayer breakfasts

Graham Kerr didn't give up on speaking publicly in front of live audiences, however. As part of his commitment to Christianity, and perhaps understanding how to utilize one of his most well-known talents for a new purpose, Kerr has been leading prayer breakfasts both locally and more broadly. In 2019, he was the keynote speaker at the Snohomish County Community Prayer Breakfast, scheduled on Good Friday.

As reported by the Seattle Weekly, he used the opportunity to talk about a "radical change" in his life, interpreting two of the Commandments of loving God and thy neighbor, to include more kindness and respect in his own life. Previously in 2013 he spoke at the Kitsap Community Prayer Breakfast, and in 2020, Kerr also appeared virtually at the Skagit County Prayer Breakfast, honoring elected officials and healthcare workers. As recently as 2022, Kerr also was a keynote speaker at the Christian Chefs International's annual conference.

He's living a slower life outside of Seattle

After the frenetic pace Kerr was accustomed to, the glamor of television has given way to vegetable gardening at a country house. He replaced his front lawn with a vegetable garden, and has swapped glasses of wine with arugula, beets, and kale at his Pacific Northwest home, which has a nautical theme. Kerr calls the house an hour north of Seattle "the little ark on the hill," according to Seattle Weekly.

Although Treena passed away in 2015, Kerr explained he still sets out three place settings at home. He sponsors two children in Africa living in poverty through Compassion International and wants to honor them by sharing his resources. Kerr also resides with his daughter and son-in-law in the house with views overlooking the Skagit River valley.

He no longer watches television, let alone stars on it. He told The Daily Herald, "I haven't had television in my home for over 30 years." And now instead of galloping, he speed walks every morning.

His philosophy on cooking has changed

As part of his faith, as well as a heart attack and stroke Treena experienced in the 1980s, Kerr has also changed his philosophy on nourishing himself and others. On his show, he famously used very few vegetables — but lots of butter, lard, bacon fat, and sugar. He was even given the Broken Spoon Award from Weight Watchers International for such dangerous recommendations.

For a man who used to rub more fat into already marbled roasts, he has significantly cut back on indulgence. He won't make hamburgers for himself anymore, because according to The New York Times, "you can't make a decent two-ounce hamburger" and he won't ingest more than two ounces of meat. Instead, he now prefers veggie burgers, egg beaters, salads, and alcohol-free chardonnay.

Additionally, there's a compassionate component, related to his church: by building out a large garden at home, he could give extra produce to the local food bank and build stronger community. Kerr told Seattle Refined "I want to have more plant food in my life. I want to have between seven and nine servings a day."

He wrote a memoir

Kerr had experience writing cookbooks, but in 2015 he tried his hand at a new approach: a personal memoir, titled "Flash of Silver: ...the leap that changed my world."

The book is divided into three parts, but primarily charts the second half of Kerr's life, post-Galloping Gourmet days, and finding God in his life through resilience. He reflects on consumption habits in his own life and how excess can lead to harm. Comparing himself to a fish, the "flashes of silver" are a reference to Kerr making leaps over adversity. There is a metaphor in the book about salmon on a parallel journey to Graham and Treena being swept downstream into adversity, swimming in opportunity, and eventually fighting their way upstream with a renewed purpose.

A Goodreads review from Terry says "I found [the salmon] a little odd at first, but came to look forward to their progress in life." Another reader named Lynn claims, "It is a life changing book."

His cookbook was reissued

However, if you're interested in more straightforward food tips from the original Galloping Gourmet, you're in luck — Kerr's cookbook, "The Graham Kerr Cookbook: by The Galloping Gourmet" was reissued by Rizzoli in 2018. The updated edition was edited by and features an introduction by food journalist brothers Matt and Ted Lee, new archive photos, and new handwritten commentary from Kerr himself.

The book was first published in 1966 when Kerr was just 26 years old, featuring photos of each stage of the cooking process. "I wanted people to understand basic methods," said Kerr in a 2018 interview with Seattle Refined. "Once you know how to cook, it's only a question of the ingredients you like." To emphasize that accessibility, Kerr used grams, ounces, and cups measurements in each recipe.

One recipe that Kerr still makes from the book is the Farmhouse Vegetable Soup, although now he swaps evaporated skim milk in place of heavy cream. It's always been packed with vegetables such as carrots, onion, and turnips, however, bridging Kerr's old life with his new one.

He engages with students

One advantage of taking a class hosted by a world-famous chef? You'll probably get to eat. In 2018, around the time of the cookbook's re-release, The Washington Post reported that Kerr was hosting a group of organic farming students from Evergreen State College at his home to talk about gardening, and served them his famous vegetable soup. Teaching is not new to Kerr; in the 1970s he was an Adjunct Professor at the Cornell University Hotel School.

Additionally, his role as a television host was often compared to being an "educator," so working one on one with students was not a stretch. Kerr also serves on the Advisory Board and speaks to students at the Christian Culinary Academy, an independent cooking school for chefs that identify as Christian. Kerr was so engaged with the farming students who visited him that he announced "I would like this to be the formal launch of the book."

He co-hosted a podcast

Although Kerr notably left his television career in the past, he never stopped being a consummate host. In 2018, he started a podcast, titled "T @ 3," which he co-hosted with a young woman named Faith Schmidt. He explained they were separated by six decades of life and as an 86-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, they were pondering how to both invest in a more "sustainable future." This meant exploring such potential actions as going vegetarian (which Faith convinced Graham to try).

Faith noted that she initially was brought on for some "tech stuff," helping Graham set up YouTube, but then as she engaged in conversations with him, he invited her to join. She acknowledged that they had wildly different ways of looking at things, but enjoyed coming together. Both happily admitted that they were influenced by each other's points of view and were learning from each other. Old episodes are available on Youtube.

He has received awards and an honorary doctorate

Graham Kerr is no stranger to awards. His achievements began when he won the gold medal in 1965 at the Culinary Olympics for "The Graham Kerr Cookbook by the Galloping Gourmet."

And then the Emmy Award-nominations for "The Galloping Gourmet" were not the end of Kerr's impressive collection of prizes; he has continued to rack up numerous commendations, even after the conclusion of his television career. The American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame inducted Kerr as an honorary member in 1999, and he has won a Julia Child Cookbook Award and the James Beard Award. In 2003, Kerr gave the commencement speech and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in "Culinary Nutrition" from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.

However, despite all of the acclaim, Kerr unsurprisingly has remained humble in his golden years. As he told The Washington Post, "I know what it is to have been big, and I know what it is to be me. And I really prefer to be me."

Inspiring fashion for men

Although Kerr may be living a more modest life now, upon reflection from some critics, his fashionable past is being celebrated as much as his cooking skills, being dubbed a "fashion icon."

Kerr has always felt comfortable being himself, no matter what he was wearing, and he emphasized fun in the kitchen by enjoying his own eclectic fashion choices. The Robb Report recalled his chic, but quirky, wardrobe, including plaid vests and pants, double-breasted suits, button-up sweaters, and a signature signet ring. He often donned a colorful ascot, as well.

Embracing his native British accent and charm, he sometimes cooked in a tuxedo, perhaps a cheeky nod to James Bond. He also frequently subverted his image in costumes like a suit of armor or just boxer shorts. Of course now he's more prone to pleated pants, sweaters, and a cross necklace, but still dazzling an array of newfound fans.

A documentary about his life is in the works

Coming soon to a theater near you: a feature-length documentary about Graham Kerr's life. Titled "Galloping Upstream: The Graham Kerr Story," a teaser trailer shows clips from "The Galloping Gourmet," as well as interviews with culinary celebrities such as Rachael Ray and Matt and Ted Lee, and Madeleine Smithberg, co-creator of "The Daily Show." The film will also include archival footage from both "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and "The Late Show" with David Letterman when Kerr made appearances, and the Discovery Channel provided all 455 The Galloping Gourmet" episodes to pull from.

The film is directed by Scott Finley, a founding partner of Mighty Media Studios, and Schy Gleason is the Executive Producer, having worked previously with Lionsgate and Universal Studios. As Gleason said to Ministry Watch, "We're after a great story because we have a fascinating man."

Although there's no release date yet, the filmmakers (including Graham) hosted a fundraiser to raise money for the film in 2021.