Afternoon Tea with the Galloping Gourmet

Graham Kerr welcomes Greg Asimakoupoulos to his home in Washington State

When I was a senior in high school, I didn’t take home economics. But I wasn’t entirely ignorant when it came to the culinary arts. After all, the Galloping Gourmet was on TV every day.

Graham Kerr, was a gourmet chef and entertainer par-excellence. The tall lanky comedic cook with a delightful British accent was fun to watch. He made experimenting in the kitchen fun. How could I have known then that I would be having afternoon tea in his home fifty-five years later?

After learning that Graham was living in a Christian retirement community an hour away, I reached out to him He graciously consented to be interviewed.

On a rainy April afternoon, the sun broke through the clouds as my wife Wendy and I arrived at Warm Beach Senior Community. Graham welcomed us with his signature smile and an invitation to sit down for a cup of tea.

As our eighty-nine year old host, poured our liquid refreshment, I marveled at the miniature plate of healthy nibblies he’d artistically arranged. Toast with homemade huckleberry jam, an Aussie bite, a whole grain biscuit spread with Nutella and a couple slices of watermelon.

Sipping my tea, I asked Graham to reflect on his faith journey. He proceeded to list the various ingredients God had combined that resulted in his spiritual appetite. With the enthusiasm I recalled from his high-energy cooking show, my new friend shared his story.

Graham, an only child, had been raised by well-to-do hoteliers in England. As such he was exposed to the hospitality industry at an early age and learned from master chefs. His meteoric rise to fame came early in his twenties when television came calling in New Zealand and Australia. Soon he was galloping around the globe earning an international reputation. By 1968 The Galloping Gourmet debuted on an American network.

Graham told me he was dubbed by the media as “the high-priest of hedonism” because of his playboy persona, his ubiquitous glass of wine and televised entrees bathed in butter and heavy cream. And while his popularity was soaring, his marriage was in free-fall.

While Wendy and I savored our tasty morsels and continued sipping our tea, Graham shared about a near-fatal car accident in 1972 that ended this gourmet’s gallop and severely injured his wife. Per a doctor’s suggestion, the Kerr’s lengthy period of healing included sailing around the world with their three young children on a seventy-one foot yacht.

Within two years, Graham’s wife Treena, who had become addicted to pain-killers following the accident, gave her heart to Jesus. Within several months, Graham had followed his wife’s lead and gave up the control of his life to a higher power. His surrender resulted in a welcomed release from the success that had held him hostage.

A life of ministry would define the Kerr’s new-found freedom. And that ministry included helping people discover a more nutritious way to eat along with modeling for others how to feast on the Word of God through personal Bible study.

Widowed since 2015, Graham initial grief has been replaced by deep gratitude for the life he and Treena shared. That gratitude is fueled by the daily recipe he follows that helps him maintain a nourishing diet of faith. It begins with an hour and a half of Bible study, prayer, meditation and journaling.

Graham proceeded to tell me about the wooden cross that hangs around his neck. He explained that he wears it every day as a reminder of his spiritual identity in Christ. Curiously, it is a cross he carved from one of the spatulas he used in his TV kitchen.  

As Wendy and I stood to leave, I noticed the gigantic world map on Graham’s living room wall. Anticipating my question, described his current passion. The globe around which he once galloped as a celebrity chef, is a world punctuated by conflict and pain. But it is a world God loves.

Graham wants to facilitate communication with believers in each nation of the world. His desire is to hear what God is doing behind the scenes that isn’t making headlines. With the help of other residents in his community, he wants to document a present-day Book of Acts.

A Memorable Day

Greg and Wendy Asimakoupoulos’ wedding day

May 29, 1982

‘Twas a Memorial Day of another kind.
Two love birds (with one single mind)
joined hands before a crowded church
exchanging vows and rings.

In a ruffled shirt and lacy dress,
we faced the pastor and confessed
that we would love through thick and thin.
And by God’s grace we have.

Becoming Like Children

This is a photo of Greg Asimakoupoulos
sitting at his pastor-father’s typewriter

“Become like children,” Jesus said.
“Remember who you were.
Wide-eyed with wonder, innocent and shy.
Acknowledging dependence
on that Someone whom you trust.
Accepting more than always asking “why?”

Childlike-faith is what we’re called to.
Resting in our Father’s arms.
Trusting in His vantage point that we can’t see.
Making peace with limitations,
while believing dreams come true
and believing I am loved for being me.

With their arms upraised, small children
reach for Someone whom they love.
Hands aimed Heavenward 
convey what’s deep inside.
Unconditional affection,
longing to be cradled tight
in those strong inviting arms that beckon wide.

There are shadows on life’s highway
that we just cannot avoid.
Unexpected times of darkness hide the sun.
Death and illness. Loss and sorrow.
Doubts that linger through the night.
And those nagging fears that question what’s to come.

Still the shadows offer contrast,
give perspective. They provide
a point of reference for God’s faithfulness.
In the shadows we are privy
to the promises of grace
that remind us God is with us in our stress.

The poem above is included in this book:

Greg’s book,
When God Speaks
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $14.99 from
Lulu Books.

Others Day

Is it time for Others Day?

We set aside a day each May
to honor dear old mom.
To let her know how much she’s loved
before she’s dead and gone.

We do the same each year in June
to tell our dads they’re great.
To grill a brat and drink a beer
and just plain celebrate.

Just recently it dawned on me
we need a holiday
to honor others in our lives
for what they do and say.

I’m thinking of the guys at work,
my neighbors, merchants too.
Baristas, mailmen, waitresses,
the one who heels my shoe.

Toll takers, teachers, dry cleaners,
a pastor, rabbi, priest,
those hospice workers, gardeners,
the not-well-known. The least.

You catch my drift. I’m thinking of
those people in our lives
who ease the burden of each day
who seldom get a prize.

They need to know we value them.
I think I have a way.
Why not a Sunday once a year
that’s known as Others Day?

Two Mothers Named Elsie

The poet’s favorite table game illustrates the content of this post

As we observe Mother’s Day once again this year, I’m mindful of a mother by the name of Elsie. That was the name her parents chose when she was born ninety-six years ago.

Barely five feet tall, Elsie was a giant in the lives of her two sons. She embraced motherhood with tiptoe enthusiasm. Her creative flair and hands-on joie de vivre left her mark on her family and all who knew her. Having had an amazing mother herself, this mom took her cues from one who had quit school in third grade to help care for her eleven younger siblings on a farm in Kitsap County.

Elsie’s mother had taught herself how to play the guitar, piano and harmonica. She was a gifted artist and vocalist. She modeled compassion and nurture. She guided her three children in the ways of the Lord. Since Elsie was her youngest, the baby of the brood was the recipient of her mother’s focused attention.

As she entered adolescence, Elsie resisted being called by the name her parents chose for her. That was about the time that the mascot of Borden Milk Company was a cow by the name of Elsie. For a petite pretty blonde to be called by a bovine’s name was “udderly” embarrassing.  So, when she entered high school Elsie began to go by her middle name.

Following college, Elsie met a young Greek American who was the pastor of a small church in the panhandle of Idaho. After a dozen dates, they became engaged and were married in January of 1951. She became a mom fifteen months later.    

And then there was another mother by the name of Elsie. This Elsie became a mother in 1931. Unlike the other Elsie, this Elsie did not have the godly example of a nurturing parent. Longing for love, she found herself in the unenviable situation of being pregnant without the benefit of being married.

As a nineteen-year-old, Elsie chose not to abort the child within her. Valuing the miniature life she was carrying, she gave birth to a baby boy. She attempted to keep her son, but soon discovered the demands of caring for the child on her own were beyond her ability. Elsie made the courageous decision to give up her little one to the Children’s Aid Society of Vancouver when the boy (whom she named Hugh) was only six months old.

Elsie never saw her baby again. While she would eventually marry and have three other children, she died without knowledge of what had become of her firstborn. While she assumed her son would be adopted, she could never have imagined the life he would lead.

Following his education and beginning a career track with a major department store chain, Elsie’s son married and began a family of his own. A call to cross-cultural missions found the young husband and father living in Mexico City where he discovered his abilities as a writer.

Fifty books (and countless magazine articles) later, Elsie’s son, now ninety-two lives in Southern California with his wife of seventy-two years. He has recently written his memoir in which he includes a letter he wrote to a mother he never knew.  

This man has shared with me the angst with which he has lived having been denied a relationship with his birth mom. After all, I married his firstborn daughter.

And in case you’re wondering, I knew the first Elsie mentioned in this story as well. The middle name by which she chose to go by was Star. And she was the guiding star of my life from the time she gave me birth seventy-one years ago until she died four years ago.