Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Art Ginsburg Died Nov. 21, 2012 as TV Chef, Mr. Food Catered to Working Folks

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Art Ginsburg Died Nov. 21, 2012 as TV Chef, Mr. Food Catered to Working Folks

Article excerpt

Art Ginsburg, who billed himself as Mr. Food in 90-second televised cooking lessons -- attracting nearly 4 million viewers for each, selling 8 million cookbooks and presaging today's proliferation of celebrity chef shows -- died Wednesday at his home in Weston, Fla. He was 81.

His family announced his death, which The Associated Press said was caused by pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Ginsburg disdained haute cuisine as irrelevant to the lives of hard-pressed working folks in favor of cake mixes and canned soups. His recipes had 10 ingredients at most, and he shared uncountable timesaving tricks. His "anybody can do it" philosophy held that any home cooking is better than no home cooking. The recipe for his recipes boiled down to this: "The less steps the better; the less ingredients the better."

Mr. Ginsburg was the son of a butcher and a butcher himself -- as well as an enthusiastic amateur thespian -- and his appeal rested partly on his often goofy, unaffected manner. His syndicated spots, which appeared on local news programs and talk shows in the manner of weather forecasts, were distinguished by his tall chef's hat, gray beard and bad jokes, but most of all by his legally trademarked sign-off line: "Ooh it's so good!!"

At his death, his vignettes -- of which he made 230 a year -- appeared on 125 local television stations, down from a peak of 168 in 2007. He wrote 52 cookbooks, and each month attracted 1.7 million unique visitors to his website. He peddled merchandise that included frozen food products, energy bars and gas grills. He endorsed products like spaghetti sauces and sweet corn. His company, Ginsburg Enterprises Inc., will continue; during his illness, an associate had already replaced him on the broadcasts.

A large part of Mr. Ginsburg's appeal was his easygoing approach, advocating moderation. …

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