A Taste of History® is a TV cooking series that explores America’s culinary beginnings from the birthplace of American cuisine. This innovative series brings America’s history to life and makes it vibrant as we step back in time and get to know the founders of our country through the food they ate and the recipes they prepared.
Touring City Tavern’s hallowed grounds - Chef Walter Staib celebrates the history of the venerable City Tavern, Philadelphia’s historic restaurant that John Adams called “the most genteel tavern” in America. George Washington used City Tavern as his headquarters during the Revolutionary War, and it was the Merchant Exchange. Chef Staib operates it now for guests to experience 18th century dining. In this episode, Chef Staib cooks Roast leg of venison, yellow beets and walnuts gratin, sage potatoes and crème brûlée.
Winning the war with bread – Chef Walter Staib bakes some of America’s favorites, inspired by George Washington’s Baker General, Christopher Ludwig. A native German, he brought the art of gingerbread making to Philadelphia and volunteered his services to the army to keep everyone fed in camps. Chef Staib roasts a turkey to demonstrate how to make a classic turkey pot pie from scratch, then makes the dough and filling then finishes the meal with gingerbread and poached pears.
Battlefield Artillery marching to victory – Boston book shop owner, Henry Knox, used his bookish interest in military manuals to become the chief artillery officer General Washington. Chef Walter Staib visits Fort Mercer to learn how Knox and a rag-tag militia acquired artillery and gained the discipline to swing the balance of the war for America’s independence. Chef Staib cooks “pease” soup with pork shanks and Sally Lunn toast, Hunter’s stew with rabbit, beef, turkey and pork, skillet potatoes and lights cannonball punch on fire.
Fight battles beyond land, on a River War - After the British invaded Philadelphia, Washington sent soldiers to Fort Mifflin and Fort Mercer to delay supply ship and give the Continental Army time to escape to Valley Forge. We visit the forts on opposite sides of the Delaware River near Philadelphia and Chef Staib makes shrimp and rutabaga fricassee, corn fritters, okra fish stew and baked fennel.
First generation Irish American – General Hand – Born in Ireland, General Hand came to America in the British army. Hand exemplifies the spirit of the colonists that viewed themselves as the New American and was eager to fight for his newly adopted country. Chef Staib cooks cabbage soup with meat dumplings, roasted stuffed pork stomach with pan gravy, steamed leeks with Irish bacon and Irish soda bread.
Take to the waters at The Jefferson Pools at Hot Springs Virginia - As the tide of settlement pushed Native Americans further west, many aristocrats found a respite at the Jefferson Pools in Warm Springs Virginia. Chef Staib explores immerses in the history of the Hot Springs and retraces the path of 22 presidents at the historic Omni Homestead. Chef cooks with the resort’s chefs to make mountain trout, honey stung Brussels sprouts, “hausenpfeffer” braised marinated rabbit and roasted, stuffed tenderloin of venison.
The intoxicating island of spices – Grenada - America’s War of Independence took hold, the South East Caribbean became a powder keg of activity. Chef Staib visits Grenada, the spice capital of the world and the home of nutmeg, a spice that in the 18th century was worth its weight in gold. Chef Staib cooks with local chefs to make oil down and more famous local island dishes.
Discovering China’s past - From the Great Wall to the forbidden city, Beijing is steeped in history. Join Chef Staib as he treks the Great Wall and battles mana-shrimp. Then Staib travels up the Yangtze River through City of Ghosts and into Sichuan to cook with the famed Sichuan peppercorn and sample the original hot-pot. Along the way he cooks on board a ship and makes a classic Chinese feast of tripe, spicy peanut and peppercorn sauce, pot stickers, Chonging style chicken, steamed buns and more.
Benjamin Franklin – at Home in London - Benjamin Franklin lived in London prior to the America’s Declaration of Independence, hoping to assuage Britain’s abuses of the Colonies and prevent war. Chef Staib visits London and the Ben Franklin House while illuminating this entrepreneur, scientist and diplomat who helped mold the new America. Chef Staib cooks Ben Franklin’s own recipes for Lettuce and anchovy soup, stuffed lobster, venison loaf, succotash and parmesan cheesecake.
L’ Hermione – Lafayette’s Ship - At age 19, the Marquis d’ LaFayette arrived in the Colonies onboard the frigate, L’Hermione. He was to change the course of America’s war for Freedom. Chef Staib travels back to the port of La Rochefort, France for the final phase of reconstruction and to discover what drove LaFayette to become Washington’s Major General. Chef Staib makes calf livers in Calvados with apples, potato gratin, poached leeks in vinaigrette, dandelion salad with lardons, a salad of mussels, barley, artichokes and tomatoes and the famous “floating island” dessert.
Chef Staib’s journeys back to The Black Forest – Chef Staib returns to the Black Forest in Germany, synonymous with Grimm’s Fairy tales and where Staib cultivated his culinary prowess growing up in a family restaurant. This is where old-world craft meets creativity, on the border of France, and Switzerland, and the ideal setting for a very personal Taste of History. He cooks Maultaschen, or Black Forest Ravioli, mache salad with eggs, bacon and hazelnuts, Black Forest potato salad and Black Forest cake.
The roots of Creole cooking in St Lucia – In the 18th century St. Lucia changed hands between the British and English fourteen times. The indigenous Amerindians lost much from these battles, but to this day, they display the British language and government and the French flair for cuisine, art and culture. Chef Walter Staib returns to St Lucia to explore the Creole influence and sample a Taste of History. On this show, Chef Staib cooks Creole cooking with local experts.