How To Write A Biography

How To Get Started:

First, the Idea

I had come to the conclusion that no one else was going to write about the life of Friedemann Paul Erhardt (a.k.a culinary icon CHEF TELL) and that I better do something about  that. After all, he had been my brother-in-law.

I was not sure that writing his life-story was a worthy endeavor — family and friends were in opposite camps about the man: some loved him, others hated him. I just wanted to research the facts and decide for myself.

In December of 2011, one of my sisters, Bunny Erhardt, widowed since Chef had passed away in 2007, granted my request for access to her friends and acquaintances. She gave me permission to write the first Chef Tell biography.

Embarked on my quest to discover whether this man was worthy of my time or not, I developed a three-part outline loosely fitted to the early, middle and later years of his lifetime.  As the work progressed, data gathered on my desk and on sheets of papers surrounding my desk, fitted into corresponding sections of that outline. Eventually, a timeline list of major events in Tell’s life took shape and became the backbone to my body of work.

As people’s names popped up, I jotted these down, notching a mark each time the same name appeared more than once. The resultant list directed me to individuals who would become subjects of interviews that, I hoped, would provide personal anecdotes, as well as qualify the data, which, by now, were adding up to conflicting accounts.

Fact and fiction overlapped more than a few times. These were not proverbial “truth is stranger than fiction” mishaps; either the subject of my book had lied to the press, or journalists had researched poorly their magazine and newsprint articles, or not at all. Sifting actual facts from a widespread panoply of published falsehoods circulated among articles, media interviews, and the chef himself, became the hardest part of the task!

My Virgin Interview

My first in-person interview was in the Philadelphia administrative office of Chef Georges Perrier, a contemporary of Chef Tell and one of the Top Five, premier French chefs in America. Perrier had agreed to 15 minutes only — not much time to request more than a simple, “Tell me, chef, what was important about Chef Tell?” If any more time would pass, I would wing it by following my instincts.

I had never conducted a live interview with anyone before. Working in international marketing sales (to support my writing aspirations) I had met and sold products and services to many top business executives in the financial and healthcare industries for over 18 years, but this would be my first live interview as an “Author.”

The questions I asked were never a part of my notes, and Perrier was a wonderful interview. He waxed on about his friendship with Tell as I wrote highlights on my pad of paper. My small recorder captured the actual phrases and nuanced details for later playback. I prodded infrequently and only to let Perrier loose. In the end, more than an hour had passed us by. We hugged, perhaps with a hint of tears in our eyes, because Perrier had not known that Janet Louise Nicoletti, Tell’s fiancee when the two chefs first met, had overdosed and died years earlier. Perrier’s summation of the woman said it all succinctly,
“Mon dieu, I did not know this. I knew this woman; she was simply tall, bright and beautiful.”

Later, having shelled out a twenty-dollar bill to retrieve my rented car from the union-run, Philly parking garage, I made a mental note to bring enough change to feed the street meters at future interview meetings. That evening I rewarded myself with an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich for making it through what I thought would be the worst of my gauntlet of interviews for this book.

Now I was proud that I had struck out on this course. Perrier, a man at the top of his profession — the same as Chef Tell — had confided to me two significant morsels:
Chef Tell was a giant of a man. I miss him. I loved him,” and “You know, maybe I’ll have you write my biography, because I like you. But, of course, it would be a very naughty book!”
(Perrier’s remark, though it made us both laugh, had served to break the ice between us early on and opened a more intimate repartee; it also gave me a reason to respond with,
“Georges, perhaps you should wait until you read my book; you may not think I can write well.”)

Each subsequent interview, each fork in the road, each turn, hill and valley on the path I took to find new information about whether I would love or hate the man who had been Chef Tell,moved me inexorably toward its own conclusion.

http://bit.ly/ChefsBiographyThe detailed story, sprinkled among never-before-released photos and Chef Tell recipes, is recorded in CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, the 452-page book published by Skyhorse Publishing (NYC) and available online and in bookstores in hardback, eBook and AudioBook formats. Forewords are by Emmy-winning TV hosts Regis Philbin and Chef Walter Staib.
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 “WOW is a great start! This is a wonderful account of one man’s voyage and how in so many ways every reader will connect with something.  It is engaging, and takes you through all the emotions of life, leaving you to decide what is next for you, and how you will make the most of your today – it’s a testament of the human spirit.”—Tracy Repchuk, #1 Amazon.com Best Selling Author and Top Woman Speaker in the World Online Business Strategy

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Ronald Joseph Kule is an internationally published author/biographer/ghostwriter who writes non-fiction and fiction across several genres. Readers consider his work as five-star quality. Contact the author by emailing to KuleBooksLLC@gmail.com.

5-Star Book: CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef

English: Cat Cora in April 2010.

English: Cat Cora in April 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each Christmas season, like most chefs, Chef Tell worked his a** off. However, after the holiday was done, every year, he went out and bought all of the newest cookbooks in bookstores and online… and proceeded to study them to stay up with the latest technologies and trends. Additionally, he studied culinary reference books from libraries to sharpen his skills constantly.

Thus, Chef Tell became an “overnight success” in America: the most popular TV chef of his time with a fan base of 40,000,000 Baby Boomers — about eight times larger than Julia Child’s. According to TV host Regis Philbin, “Chef Tell started all this television madness about chefs.”

Iron Chef Cat Cora wrote, “Chef Tell was a man of great humor and incredible skills in the kitchen. He brought wonderful food to the table as well as love and laughter. The author did an impeccable job bringing to life Chef’s humor and passion for food.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer food writer, Elaine Tait, wrote, “Chef Tell is America’s Paul Bocuse, and the only TV chef whose food always tastes good.”

To know more about this German-American iconic personality, and his fascinating life story of overcoming one obstacle after another, go to any online site and pick up a copy of his biography in either hard copy, eBook or audiobook format. Here are some links for those:
http://bit.ly/168KfX8 for the audiobook
http://bit.ly/156n6oQ for Barnes & Noble hard copies
http://amzn.to/15MSoAV for amazon eBook

CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef by Ronald Joseph Kule, forewords by Regis Philbin and Chef Walter Staib, is 452 pages with 70 photos and seven NEW recipes, and contains a DVD offer for home cooks to watch Chef Tell teach cooking different cuisine dishes right on your TV, computer or media player. It is a timeless book of life lessons to cherish for generations.

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© 2013 by KuleBooks LLC and Ronald Joseph Kule. all Rights Reserved.

Chef Tell – Master Chef and Baby Boomers’ Hero

“Author Ronald Joseph Kule’s excellence can be felt in the pulse that beats from within the pages. His work about the late Chef Tell is going to stir more than just a few kitchen pots. I stood back in amazement as Ron took a complex, infuriating, yet ultimately appealing character, and produced one superbly crafted work of literature.” — J. David Miller, Award-winning Author/Sports Journalist/Hall of Fame head coach, AAA Semi-pro champion SoCal Coyotes
In 1976, Friedemann Paul Erhardt — “Chef Tell” — became America’s pioneer TV showman chef.  Within weeks of winning the audition, he appeared on-air in 30 cities. Within months, 40,000,000 avid Baby Boomer fans in 114 cities—comparable to the fan base of Julia Child—tuned in to Evening Magazine or PM Magazine to watch his 90-second, cooking segments, three times weekly. Personal appearances on The Mike Douglas ShowThe Dinah Shore Show; The Merv Griffin Show, The Jon Davidson Show, and live cooking demonstrations in shopping malls and convention centers, added fuel to the German-American chef’s prairie fire that swept the nation.

No one had ever seen anyone like him: Chef Tell cooked fast, entertained, taught cooking, and made America feel confident enough to try cooking his way, signing off with, “I SEE YOU!” 

 
Chef Tell was the author’s brother-in-law. The hard-cover book, 452 pages, 70 photos, NEW CHEF TELL RECIPES, is available now at the store and makes a great holiday gift. The author will sign your copies.
Author-signed copies available at ronkulebooks.com

 

Master Chef’s Life Recipe

CHEF TELL The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef shows us not only the perfect personality for TV cooking appearances in front of 40,000,000 Baby Boomers, but also the quick-witted perfectionist who demanded only the freshest ingredients for food, fortune, fame and women. An absorbing account of an extraordinary man, CHEF TELL surprises and horrifies with its emotional and intellectual tugs-of-war, which reveal the personal and professional highs, lows and glorious successes of Philadelphia magazine’s “affably roguish Bad Boy of the Philadelphia restaurant world,” explaining why so many loved or hated Chef Tell then but today miss him dearly.

© 2013 by Ronald Joseph Kule and KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.

New Book Available Now

Foreword by REGIS PHILBIN