Chef Boiardi, a true American hero
Jose Alberto Estrella Sosa
The Man Behind “Chef Boy-Ar-Dee”
These days when you think of “Chef Boyardee” you’re probably flooded with memories of cracking open a can of ravioli as a child. I know I have rather fond memories surrounding this smiling chef, but who is he truly. Through completing this assignment, I realized how much more there is to the smiling man printed on the can. All my life I simply assumed that he was a marketing ploy to make this canned food product seem more “home-cooked,” but I couldn’t have been more incorrect. Not only is Chef Boiardi an actual person, but he is an American hero.
In order to get to know more about everyone’s’ favorite pasta serving childhood chef, we should start with his early life. “Chef Boyardee” was really born as Hector Boiardi on October 22, 1897. He grew up in Piacenza, Italy with his parents Maffi and Giuseppe Boiardi. Rather early on in life he began developing a fascination towards the cooking and hospitality industry. As a matter of a fact, at the young age of just eleven, he starting working as an apprentice chef in a local hotel. By sixteen him and his brother decided to embark on a journey to New York with hopes of pursuing his passion for cooking. They traveled via “La Lorraine,” a ship of French registration. When they finally arrived their travels has ended, however their journey into the food industry had just began.
Soon after he and his brother began their adventure in the big apple, they got hired as kitchen assistants at The Plaza Hotel. After many late nights, long days and working furiously, Hector was able to work his way up to head chef. In this time, he was able to gain crucial experience cooking in a restaurants’ kitchen. This experience then led him to gain a job at The Greenbrier Hotel, a luxurious inn located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. During his time working at Greenbrier, he had the honor of being the supervisor of the homecoming meal. This event not only served two thousand soldiers returning from World War 1, but also President Woodrow Wilson himself. This is clearly a huge milestone in Boiardi’s career.
By 1926 his experience as a chef had grown and his skills were becoming sharpened. It was this time he decided to open his very own restaurant, which he proudly named “II Giardino d’Italia.” This translates to “The Garden of Italy.” This was very fitting considering how proud of his nationality Mr. Boiardi always was. It was located at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland. This restaurant was a giant accomplishment for him and truly sky rocketed his career. Before you knew it his specialty became, you guessed it, pasta. Suddenly, costumers couldn't get enough of his delightful spaghetti and were asking for small samples and his secret recipe. Everyone’s taste buds were captivated by Boiardi’s food and his restaurant’s business was booming.