The Frugal Gourmet

The Frugal Gourmet is an American half-hour cooking show. The show started around 1973 at Tacoma's public-TV station KTPS-TV.[1] It was first called Cooking Fish Creatively. Later it was renamed The Frugal Gourmet.[2] The award winning program was hosted by Jeff Smith.[3]


Jeff Smith was the chaplain at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington from 1966 to 1972. In 1965, he taught a cooking class called ”Food as Sacrament and Celebration".[4] In 1972, he opened and ran a restaurant called the Chaplain’s Pantry.[5] In 1973, a local PBS television station KTPS-TV offered him his own cooking show, called Cooking Fish Creatively.[6] "I had a producer who couldn't produce, a director who couldn't direct, a technician who couldn't tech, and I wasn't so good, either", according to Smith.[7] The show received two Emmy nominations.[8] The show won a 'Best of the West' Award for Educational Television in 1976.[8] After several seasons it was renamed The Frugal Gourmet.[6] The name change was suggested by his wife, Patty.[4]

The Frugal Gourmet ran on PBS from 1983 to 1997.[9] It was PBS's most popular cooking show.[5] Smith always wore a blue and white striped apron that became his "trademark".[10] In 1989, during the "Three Ancient Cuisines" run, Smith was joined by Craig Wollam, a professionally trained Chef.[11] Smith met Wollam by accident in a Chicago restaurant and he was hired the next day.[12] He stayed until the show was cancelled in 1997.[13] For the first seven seasons, the show was produced by WTTW in Chicago.[14] From 1991, it was produced by KQED in San Francisco, and A La Carte Communications.[14]


During each show, Smith followed a recipe showing how to prepare a dish. He goes to different places by showing food from many different cultures.[15] The show always ended with Smith saying "Until I see you again, this is the Frugal Gourmet; I bid you peace, bye-bye". Smith would remind his audience that frugal doesn't mean cheap. It means that you don't waste money. And gourmet means loving good food and wine.

Theme songEdit

The theme music for The Frugal Gourmet was the Bourree movement from Water Music by George Frideric Handel.[16]


From 1989 to 1997, reruns of earlier seasons of The Frugal Gourmet aired on Lifetime. When The Frugal Gourmet aired on Lifetime, episodes ran for about 21 minutes to make room for commercials, and several parts were cut. In 1991, GNT in Brazil began airing a Portugal dubbed version of the show entitled Frugal Gourmet.


  1. Judith Blake (10 July 2004). "Jeff Smith, 1939 - 2004: Frugal Gourmet was popular on PBS". The Seattle Times Company. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  2. Jade Walker (10 July 2004). "Jeff Smith". blogofdeath. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  3. Diana Aitchison (2 October 1985). "`Frugal Gourmet` Preaches Against Mealtime Solitude". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Benjamin Svetkey (23 August 1991). "Jeff Smith's Frugal Gourmet's Culinary Handbook". Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved 16 February 2015.[permanent dead link]
  5. 5.0 5.1 Glenn Collins (10 February 1988). "'Frugal Gourmet': A Minister Makes Food His Mission". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ben Witherington, The Rest of Life: Rest, Play, Eating, Studying, Sex from a Kingdom Perspective (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012), pp. 70-71
  7. Bruce Buursma (4 July 1986). "Pantry Is Pulpit For Jeff Smith". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Diana Aitchison (2 October 1985). "`Frugal Gourmet` Preaches Against Mealtime Solitude". Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  9. "Frugal Gourmet Jeff Smith dies". Current Publishing Committee. 23 August 2004. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  10. Wendy Greenberg (12 May 1994). "He's Frugal, But Not With His Time Or Friendship Tv Chef Visits A Pal And Helps Abington Friends Raise Funds". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  11. "`Frugal Gourmet' Jeff Smith Shrugs at Negative Publicity". Tulsa World. Tulsa World/BH Media Group Holdings, Inc. 19 August 1992. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  12. Tim Klass (2 January 1991). "Chance meeting leads to job as cook". Times-News Hendersonville, NC. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  13. "Craig Wollam". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Steve Behrens (27 July 1998). "Cooking star pays plaintiffs in sexual abuse suits". Current/American University School of Communication. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  15. Christian Dizion (9 July 2004). "Jeff Smith, 1939-2004: The 'Frugal Gourmet' was TV's original celebrity chef". Seattle PI/Hearst Seattle Media, LLC. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  16. "The Frugal Gourmet (1973 - 1997)". Retrieved 21 February 2015.

Other websitesEdit