Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Fur flies: Who's the REAL inspiration for Muppets chef?

A Swedish chef claims a creative tie to Jim Henson. Philly foodies will say otherwise.

Fur flies: Who's the REAL inspiration for Muppets chef?

All the buzz surrounding the release of Julie & Julia has chefs coming out of the cupboard to seek their 15 minutes.

ABC.com tells the tale of Lars Kuprik Backman, a chef in Rättvik, Sweden, who contends that he was the inspiration for the bumbling, bushy-eyebrowed Swedish chef character on the Muppets show. (See also Andy Samberg on SNL.)

Backman says that in the early 1970s, puppeteer Jim Henson saw him nervously uttering gibberish during a cooking demo on Good Morning America. Backman also says he knew Henson while a chef in the canteen of Twentieth Century Fox studio lot for seven years.

Backman's assertion would be news to anyone of a certain age who grew up in Philly and watched "Chef Tell" Erhardt, one of the first TV chefs in town. In addition to spots on the old Evening Magazine, he had a national role on its PM Magazine show. The German-born Erhardt, who died two years ago, used to tell everyone that he was the inspiration. Said so in his obit.

Alas, the truth is buried with Henson.

(Yes, it's a Friday in summer. Thanks for reading.)

Michael Klein Philly.com
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About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at mklein@philly.com.

Michael Klein Philly.com
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