Long before there were TV cooking networks, there were cooking segments and Art Ginsberg as "Mr. Food" was arguably the most popular one in the country.
He lived in Weston, but popped up on local news broadcasts nationwide. On the holiest of all food weeks, Thanksgiving, Ginsberg died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 81. For an Associated Press story in 2010, he reads one of his countless fan letters. "Dear Mr. Food. How are you doing? I am 14 years old. I love the food you cook. Could you please send me an autograph?" Whether you are 14 or 40, there's a good chance "Mr. Food" came into your home kitchen from his TV kitchen. Art Ginsberg is who he really was, and that TV kitchen was at his food empire headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. He wasn't Julia Child and he never wanted to be Rachel Ray -- although Ray did invite him on her show. Ginsberg was a former butcher from Brooklyn who ended up in Weston and did his 90-second syndicated television segment from Fort Lauderdale on 165 local stations nationwide. His debut came in upstate New York in 1975, first as a guest on a local TV morning show who just kept getting invited back. Ginsberg was a guy who believed in using everyday store brands and, yes, even processed foods, to make the simplest of meals -- an episode on peanut butter on celery with raisins comes to mind. "I was always the neighborhood guy. I was always the hometown guy and all of the stations that I'm on, everybody thinks I'm there because I keep up with exactly what they want." Ginsberg said. In South Florida, three of those stations were Channel 10, Channel 4 and Channel 5. And this was really was home for Ginsberg -- where the last of his 52 cookbooks were written and his kitchen utensil business was born. A longtime friend is Monroe Udell -- the 84-year-old owner of Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour in Dania Beach. The two shared a love of food and, well, frankly, says Jaxson's general manager Jerry Smith,"They almost could be brothers to look at." Udell says he knows what made Ginsberg a success for over 30 years. "His secret? He was very personable. He knew how to put it over and he knew how to do things for a regular household, makes things easy to prepare food." If Art Ginsberg isn't known for fancy souffles or truffled fois gras -- he is known for this: "If I have one wish, it's that I hope for a long, long time I keep having you say -- right in your own kitchen -- what I say everyday and that's "OOOO, It's so goooood."