Jeff Smith

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Jeff Smith's book, Foods From Greece

Jeff Smith (January 22, 1939 – July 7, 2004) was the author of a dozen best-selling cookbooks and the host of The Frugal Gourmet, a popular American cooking show that began in Tacoma, Washington and aired on PBS from 1988 to 1997.

Smith graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 1962 and from Drew University in New Jersey in 1965. He started off as a United Methodist minister whose first food-related venture was the Chaplain's Pantry, a deli and kitchen supply store near downtown Tacoma, where he offered cooking classes to the public. Soon after launching the show in Tacoma, he received a cooking show on a local PBS member station in Seattle. With an appearance on the Phil Donahue show and a move to Chicago, his career took off.

His public career came to an end when two of his male assistant chefs brought charges of sexual harassment against him. Shortly thereafter, in 1998, several men alleged that he had sexually assaulted them in the 1970s, when they worked for him. Smith denied the accusations. He was taken off the air shortly afterward. Though he was never charged with a crime, the stigma associated with the accusations (including an undisclosed settlement with the plaintiffs three days before trial) kept him from returning to the airwaves.

According to The Seattle Times obituary Smith was known in the industry as a "food genius." Kathy Casey, the Times's food columnist said that "he knew more about food and culture than anybody I know in the food world." She also mentioned that Smith had been a generous philanthropist - donating both money and time to charitable causes and helping individuals get started in the food industry, even after the abuse allegations short-circuited his career.

He died in his sleep of heart disease.

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