A show that started as a one-off to help Pittsburghers use their summer zucchini crops will celebrate 25 years on the air in August.
“QED Cooks” with host Chris Fennimore will air a special “QED Cooks 25” segment live from the WQED kitchen at 10 a.m. Aug. 4.
Viewers have chimed in on their favorite segments from the past quarter-century, and those recipes will be featured on the program.
The series got its start in 1993, with a bumper crop of zucchini from a community garden in Homewood Cemetery, according to a release.
Fennimore asked Nancy Polinsky, then director of continuity at WQED, to air a spot asking people for zucchini recipes. The overwhelming response led to the first “QED Cooks” show, which unfortunately was not recorded.
That first program was titled “Zucchini Cheesecake and Other Ways to Prepare Summer’s Most Abundant Vegetable” by WQED producer Rick Sebak
Of the show’s enduring popularity, Fennimore said, “In home cooking, the nice thing is that nothing changes. People still treasure recipes for the memories of people and times they bring to life.
“It’s not about the food — it’s about the sharing. That’s what has distinguished our series for all these years, when most other cooking shows are just about the food,” he said.
Fennimore and Polinsky, and other co-hosts, have received tens of thousands of recipes from viewers in the last 25 years, hosted more than 1,000 home cooks and professional cooks as guests, and created more than 100 weekly programs from edited segments of the show, the release said.
Celebrity guests have included Lidia Bastianich, Mary Ann Esposito, Joe Negri, Valerie McDonald Roberts, Uncle Charlie of Uncle Charlie’s Sausage, and local celebrity chefs like Kevin Sousa, Bill Fuller, Daniel Leiphart, Greg Alauzan and Michele Savoia.
Many episodes were repackaged and distributed nationally to public television stations as the “America’s Home Cooking” series through PBS and America’s Public Television (APT).