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. 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 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

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: for the audiobook for Barnes & Noble hard copies 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.

© 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


The Neutral Zone

In this year of political campaigning and discourse one wonders if there is anywhere to hide out from all the hoopla of the Presidential election cycle. Is there a neutral zone away from left-leaning and right-leaning pundits?

The answer is that there is: the commercial kitchen. The milieu of the kitchen is about preparing food and presentation of plates before hungry, expectant customers. In the kitchen there is no taking sides on either side of the aisle like in Congress. There is only taking sides on either side of the line — behind the line you’re in the kitchen, ahead of it you’re part of the front room — the line, of course, being the counter where prepared plates are picked up by wait-staff members for delivery to diners.

When Chef Tell Erhardt stepped past the line and entered the front room to make conversations with his fans at their tables he wore the Executive Chef hat, which encompassed all of the responsibilities of running a proper restaurant establishment, including ensuring that the end-consumer of his products and services were satisfied and happy with their dining experiences.
He talked with them and drank with them, told them jokes and entertained, but he never took sides in political debates or repartee. Chef Tell was a representative of “The Neutral Zone.” His Neutral Zone was apolitical. He served Democrats and Republicans equally — and would serve Tea Party, Libertarians and Independent adherents today, if he were still with us, because food, although here and there bandied about like a political football, is apolitical.

Chef Tell delivered more than what was expected of him by reason of his unique and irrepressible personality and skills in the kitchen and on television where he was a “Rock-star Chef.” Beyond the tube, people sought his company in his famed restaurants. He was able to trade communications with kings, queens, politicians, white- and blue-collar wage-earners and children with equal aplomb. For that, he was rewarded with a rich and famous lifestyle, despite many 20-hour workdays, six days a week for several decades.

Chef Tell’s lifetime — told in the forthcoming biography — of struggles and triumphs fascinates and provokes thought. It makes one believe there is no goal one cannot attain.

Soon the world will know the details and will be able to applaud Chef Tell’s many contributions to the worlds of entertainment and food. His place as the pioneer of that popular breed of chefs known today as the “TV Showman Chef” — of which he was the first — will be assured and acknowledged as an important part of the legacy of the great chefs of the Neutral Zone, that safe harbor from the din of political opinion.

For more information about the Chef Tell biography, and to be among the first to know about its release, visit the Facebook page and click on the LIKE button at