R.I.P. Paul Prudhomme, pioneer of the celebrity chef

The spice guru and turducken advocate dies at the age of 75.

Chefs are the new rock stars, the new stand-up comics. With cable networks devoted to food — our favorite pastime —telegenic cooks can build empires around their brand. Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray, Giada De Laurentis, Wolfgang Puck, The Barefoot Contessa are household names with hit series, airport cafes, and items in the grocery store aisles. This was not always the case. 

Julia Child changed everything when she appeared on television in the 1960s, bringing classic French technique to the family table. Chefs like Martin Yan and Paul Prudhomme were next in line.

Prudhomme introduced all of America to the spicy delights of Louisiana. His cookbook Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen was an immediate success. With his larger than life personality and Cajun charm, Prudhomme was a natural on television throughout the 1980s and 1990s with five shows made for PBS— and he continued to appear onscreen all the way up to guest spots on Top Chef. Yesterday, Prudhomme passed away at the age of 75.

At some point, it is likely you opened your pantry and saw his face. His Magic Seasoning Blends were an easy way to spice up a meal. Blackened chicken went from a regional curiousity to a standard dish. Prudhomme also trademarked the "turducken." So he is a genius.

His beret may be forever hung up, but his flavors will linger forever.

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