- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
TV’s Mr. Food is ooh, so good even after 30 years
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (AP) - It’s hard to imagine, but Art Ginsburg has spent 30 years quietly turning himself into an unlikely food celebrity, an icon with a multimillion dollar brand, all under the radar of the culinary elite.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ginsburg is Mr. Food. In classic white chef’s hat, he’s the guy who goes: “Ooh, it’s so good!” as he shows off quick and easy meals in 90-second segments on local TV shows around the country.
He has 51 cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, electronics. He’s looking into a nutrition bar and an iPhone app.
He’s friendly and fun _ even off camera.
His company won’t disclose his worth but said the brand brings in millions every year, including revenue from a recipe-based website, Mrfood.com, that gets 10,000 to 14,000 new subscribers each week. Not bad for a butcher-turned-caterer-turned-television chef who isn’t considered a big name among food enthusiasts.
So why don’t foodies know Mr. Food?
“There is a huge roster of food celebrities out at this point in the marketplace. There’s just so many of them, and generally they are top chefs from the best restaurants,” she said.
Secondly, Mr. Food’s syndicated segments are featured on local news shows, just like the local weather and sports. “That audience (local news) has gotten smaller and older. Maybe that’s why he’s not as well known in regular food circles as perhaps he would like,” Steel said.
In 2007, Ginsburg’s popularity peaked at 168 stations, but advertising dollars for local programming faltered. After a brief dip to just over 100, these days he’s back up to 125-plus stations around the nation.
“They’re seeing that Mr. Food can be a profit center to the station because of Internet sponsorships, associations and sponsorships with Mr. Food,” said Howard Rosenthal, Ginsburg’s right hand man as vice president of Ginsburg Enterprises Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Most of Ginsburg’s shows are taped there, in his own studio. On a recent day, he taped 13 segments, not actually cooking on air but instead walking viewers through the steps and revealing a finished dish at the end.
He sticks to the basics and uses products anyone can get from the supermarket or find in their own cupboard. That and his folksy way makes it easy for fans to think he lives in their neighborhoods.
“It seems like he’s been around for a really long time in my market,” said Lynn Hetzler, 48, of Ashton, Ill. “We also see chefs from the Chicago area and you wonder where in the heck these people live that they get food like this. But he (Mr. Food) cooks food that locals can cook and eat.”
That hometown effect may be Art Ginsburg’s golden ticket.
“He’s nationally recognized but locally embraced,” Rosenthal said. “Everybody thinks he’s local. So that trust and feeling of connecting with him, he’s like everyone’s favorite uncle.”
Ginsburg grew up in the meat business, ran a catering company and started appearing on television in the early `70s on the show of a friend. His Mr. Food vignettes were syndicated in nine television markets by 1980. Now, he has close to 4 million daily viewers.
He credits the mainstream food culture for continued success.
“The Food Network certainly has helped instill interest in cooking. That’s for darn sure. I think that’s helped me, too,” said Ginsburg, who’s in his 70s.
The main difference between him and the big names on television like Rachael Ray, with whom Ginsburg is friends, is that he considers himself a friend or neighbor of his fans.
“They’re on the Food Network. They’re getting a lot of national publicity. And they’re getting big money,” he said. “And I’m quite comfortable, but let me tell you something. I was always the hometown guy. I don’t want to be the super celebrity. When you need bodyguards, that’s not my deal.”
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Paul takes veiled shot at Cruz, says GOP must focus on growth
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Obama engages in Ukraine diplomacy from Fla. resort as Russia digs in
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- EDITORIAL: As jobs vanish, Obama wants more of same
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again