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Old 02-21-2009, 11:29 PM   #1
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Urban Peasant

I love watching James Baker "hack" food up and toss it in a pan. Forget what he says about chopping it into equal sized pieces - he certainly doesn't mess with such trivialities on his show. But, I understand his intent and philosophy ... hack it up, toss it in a pan, cook it, and eat - don't get burdened down by a recipe.

I just ran across his program on ION-Life TV ... really sorry to find out he died a couple of years ago.

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Old 02-21-2009, 11:43 PM   #2
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Michael, I think you mean James Barber. He was a Canadian Chef know as the Urban Peasant for years. He was at our Expo 86 three times a week for the whole 6 months and since I worked at the site I saw many of his shows. I actually got to be good friends with him during that time and he shared many recipes with me. He was a very gentle man and a gentleman as well.

He retired several years ago and lived on Vancouver Island in a community not far from where DH and I cooked at a camp the summer of 07. I didn't know if he would remember me but low and behold we ran into him and his wife at a local farmer's market and when I told him my name he said "you were the sweetheart that used to guide the big shot businessmen around Expo (I worked for the Provincial government and we matched up local and foreign businessmen together and took them on tours). We all went for ice cream and had a blast. A few months after we left camp he passed away.

Oh, if you catch any more of his shows, look for the "can can" episode. He made a wonderful meal just using canned products! He was one of a kind.
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Old 02-22-2009, 12:04 AM   #3
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Here's a link to a good article on his passing.
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Old 02-22-2009, 12:21 AM   #4
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Yeah - you're right Laurie ... James Barber. Who knew a Cannuck cook would catch me?

I honestly just ran across the "Urban Peasant" a few weeks ago (ok - my cable got shut off and I had to revert to broadcast TV) - and I really liked it! I was so sorry to learn of his passing when I started trying to get info on him ....

You are so fortunate to have known him! He really looked like a fun guy to know ...
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Old 02-22-2009, 12:29 AM   #5
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He was! And I am so glad we got to spend time with him on the island.

By the way, it is Canuck, not Cannuck, eh!
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:32 AM   #6
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Back when we had one of those old HUGE satellite dishes, I used to watch "The Urban Peasant" all the time because we pulled in tv from Canada. Once we switched to a little dish, I couldn't find any station (even PBS) that carried him.

While I loved his personality, shows, cooking philosophy, & many of the dishes he made, my one complaint was always that a solid 80 percent of his main dishes always seemed to contain fruit. Whether meat, fish, or fowl, he was always adding fruit, & except for a few poultry dishes, I personally don't care for fruit in savory entrees. But that's just a personal taste quirk of my own.
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BreezyCooking View Post
...my one complaint was always that a solid 80 percent of his main dishes always seemed to contain fruit. Whether meat, fish, or fowl, he was always adding fruit, & except for a few poultry dishes, I personally don't care for fruit in savory entrees. But that's just a personal taste quirk of my own.
I do know what you mean and that is a bit of a Canadian West Coast thing. I am not saying that all West Coast Chefs always cook with fruit, but because it is in such abundance here some like to highlight it.

When we used to have our chats at Expo, he would say that he loved being from this area because the assortment of fresh foods (meat, produce, fruit, seafood) was endless.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:46 PM   #8
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I found a clip of James making Welsh Rarebit that demonstrates his style:

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Old 02-24-2009, 09:52 PM   #9
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Thanks, Michael. Seeing him brought a few tears to my eyes.
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