Feeding 11

I’ve been working in the food industry for over 35 years now, always on the kitchen side. Needless to say, there have been a lot of changes over the last three and a half decades. Probably the weirdest for me has been the rise and flourish of the celebrity chef. There were the early cooking shows, for example the iconic French chef, Julia Childs, then came the televangelists. No need to think further than Emeril Lagasse’s “Bam!!!!” or Rachael Ray’s “Yum-O!”. Now there are the mad scientist chefs (think the Modernist Cuisine movement), the always-popular beefcake chefs, the babes, and the romantic, brooding bad boys, all brought to you by YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and every other form of social media. I have a theory about all these cooking shows: people watch them, feeling like they’ve cooked something and then go out to eat.

But what about dinner? People sharing food at home, night after night. Who gets that meal on the table? I have a friend, Pat Le Beau, and I am also friends with her nine kids. For decades, she fed eleven people who came together at the same time just about every night of the week. The family said grace together and they began to eat. She was well organized; she found cooking interesting, and at times, exciting. Her food provided nourishment, both physical and spiritual. She did not find this responsibility to be burdensome or anxiety-provoking. Pat is in her 80’s now, and besides continuing to make dinner every night, she’s writing a cookbook with her granddaughters. It is my pleasure to introduce you to her and let you hear her tell a bit more about mealtime.

Steve Lebeau is a cinematographer and video editor who grew up well fed in Oak Park, IL. He now lives with his wife and daughter in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. This video about his mother is his second contribution to the Cook’s Gazette. You can see his video about Growing Home in the Spring edition.

“After being in the television business for a while, one works with many types of people. I’ve worked with various presidents, governors, mayors, movie stars, and now, my mother. She sat for almost an hour for the interview. She replied with real and thoughtful stories. A natural on camera, I had to keep slowing her down so that I would be in place to get the shot for the cooking demonstration. I had to run to keep up with her!” – Steve Lebeau


  • John LeBeau says:

    I was a pea hater – for the record!

  • Fadia says:

    Yess! A tribute to real people and real cooks in the midst of a glitzy culture of food shows. As Mrs. Le Beau says: you just have to show up and be there. Isn’t that a refreshing concept, or rather an old one that we have long forgotten!
    Steve’s video of his mother is compelling, taking an ordinary (although, in my opinion, rather extraordinary) story and weaving in romance, humor and style with an added bonus of a favorite recipe.
    Inspiring piece on so many levels, reminding us that “putting food on the table” night after night is an art in itself.
    Thanks Lisa and Steve.

  • Nadra Holmes says:

    I have been putting food on the table for dinner every night for 4 since our girls were little, and now they’re in college, for 2, and I agree – it doesn’t have to be gourmet – it just has to be there. Dinnertime is time to be together, to share the day’s events, to just be. Our girls say it’s their favorite thing we do together as a family – the simplest thing, but special. I loved the video and the fact that it was shot and edited by Pat’s son, Steve. That’s a true testament to her “showing up” every night.

    Thanks (from a former pea hater) for sharing that story.

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