Humble Beginnings

Oct 14, 2016

Humble Beginnings


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world

Question #45
Rite of Passage Sixteen –A Little Larger Than Life–
1960 I am twenty-six years old

Q. Do you think that you were helped by having to do a job in very humble circumstances?

To be on television nowadays is still a relatively exceptional experience that almost borders on being well known enough to be…famous, or at least not exactly humble?

My arrival on National Television in New Zealand was on Prime Time between Peyton Place and the Avengers and I appeared twelve times in one year.


Perhaps not, for a whole host of reasons! First of all there was no daytime television. The signal came on at 6pm and went off at 10pm…the number of sets in use was quite small.

I was rewarded for my efforts with the one time ‘talent fee’ of $25NZ (about $25 US in 1960) and this covered the food costs.

I had no ‘back kitchen’ or assistance. I shopped, prepped, and set out my ingredients and washed up after the show…in the men’s room sink!

Nothing about the experience led me to think of myself as somehow ‘famous’ or deserving of attention…well, perhaps in my own eyes…just a little?

It was enough for me to glance at passers by in the street to see if I was recognized.

I wasn’t, except by those who judged that first year’s content and awarded the brand new ‘Penguin’ (New Zealand’s Emmy Award). I was given the ‘Personality of the Year Penguin’ in 1961. I thought I might buy sunglasses or practice avoiding eye contact…but, both were unnecessary and I remained in my unknown…celebrity?

So…what about now?

Graham Kerr with a young fan in Port Angeles

I so enjoyed chatting with my new fan Peter at a recent event.

I’m now back where I started –somewhat encouraged when I’m recognized because at this date I’m much more concerned with serving than being seen.

From my first show until now is a span of fifty-six years during which I have made 1,800 separate television ‘episodes’ and I can look back on each of these and observe one common desire…that someone, somewhere would be watching and that somehow the numbers would keep growing…they did!

Those days of very humble beginnings were wonderful because each measure of recognition was so amazingly fresh and I was much more than grateful because it was such a surprise. Everything about my life in those days was ‘humble’ because I was so unproven, especially to myself.

Now here I am today being surprised and grateful all over again as I blog about my life on this website. I know that I am amid one billion other websites being ‘surfed’ by three billion people. Simple division gives me an audience of three and I know that I have more visitors than that…so, in these ‘humble’ circumstances I am, once again, a grateful man in this, for me, unproven media opportunity.

Are you starting out in an unproven media opportunity…how does it feel to you as someone ‘out there’ gives you the ultimate blessing of…person-to-person attention?

This week I read Treena’s poem The Vase


  1. Jean Says: 11:51 pm

    On “celebrity” – In the old days (’60’s and prior) being a line or short order cook at a restaurant was considered demeaning – next to the dish washer – a job for someone uneducated or under educated. Thanks to you and Julia Child cooking became respectable and skilled. In today’s economy these jobs are merely minimum wage – which is growing but unfortunately backfiring causing customers to pay much higher prices for once was a simple meal or fast food. If one is to be financially successful as a chef you must be recognized – you must be celebrity – such as seen now on Food Network – owning a restaurant and publishing a cookbook – doing book tours, travel logs, etc. In any event it requires allot of hard work and dedication – and there are many many many excellent dedicated cooks and chefs – in homes, in schools, fast food chains, caterers, etc. who will never be known publicly but are a blessing to all they serve – thank you for your dedication and skill in bringing good things to life.

  2. James Thompson Says: 5:51 pm

    Oh, yes! To humble myself as an adult after growing up in a large ‘dog-eat-dog’ city was alas difficult. Then I read the following. “Let go of anger, let go of pride. When you are bound by nothing you go beyond sorrow. Anger is like a charriot careering wildly. He how curbs his anger is the true charriter. With gentleness overcome anger. With generocity overcome meaness. With truth overcome deceit. Speak the truth, give what you can, never be angery. These three steps will lead you ito the presence of God …. This changed my life … Forever.

  3. Jean Says: 2:42 am

    It wasn’t until I became a Cristian that I learned that the more I humbled myself the more God exalted me. After many years working as a temp. at a major US corporation I was chosen to be among only 15 distinguished recipients of a monetary and recognition award throughout the global population of employees. I feel prideful even talking of it now. I again received second experience of the same at another major US corporation while working as an Office Manager. Both to me were humble positions. Finally, through many promotions found myself working – again as a temp. – in the upper echilons of the first major US company mentioned. All this came about not because of pride or self-seeking but from dedication to hard work and quality. Also, the fact that the Lord tells us “if you are faithful in small things I will make you ruler over larger things”. Serving God with a humble spirit, and contrite heart, is the most thrilling ride of my life. Fame on the other hand comes at me from my visible service in music ministry. It is quite humbling to receive praise from one who has been touched/blessed by your efforts/service. Humility in itself is a great reward and goes along way to open doors and bring much fulfillment. “My ways are not your ways sayeth the Lord”.

  4. Marcia Says: 3:22 pm

    I grew up on my maternal grandparents’ farm, my parents were unable to raise myself & my siblings. We were expected to rise at 6 a.m. everyday to start chores or during the school year, to ready for school. My grandparents had a large tree nursery farm, but were not wealthy, everyone pitched in to help and I’m sure they taught me many humble tasks that formed my work ethic to this day. My first job was as a proofreader, which sustained me through college and my first years of marriage. I eventually married a physician and was thrown into a wealthier world, oddly enough. I adjusted and raised my family. Now divorced, I am back to being in a more humble living, yet it is familiar. I believe when we are first taught to serve, we learn our best lessons in humility.

  5. Lynn Severance Says: 3:13 pm

    I look back over the years of opportunities that came into my life and what ensued as I said, “Yes”, to pursue them. Perhaps all “beginnings” are humble as we take steps to do something new. Even with training behind us, implementing what is learned is yet to be proven successful. Some shine in the public eye and although we, who admire the talent we see, may not know more about them than what we see, we appreciate their gifts.

    The rest of us can “shine” where God asks us to serve. Pride comes when we forget the Giver of the gift is the one offering the opportunities and strengthening us as we co-labor with him to walk out what brings them life.

    I am a strong proponent of recognizing the concept and value of
    “interdependence”. It was a high priority during my years of teaching young students.

    I wanted our classroom to become a microcosm of the world (perhaps an ideal world!) . I loved discerning each student’s intrinsic gifts and finding ways for them to blossom using those gifts as we built community. Learning to value the gifts in each other and how they could join to make a joyful whole was something I hoped my students would carry with them in the years beyond our classroom.

    Do we not remain lifelong “students” being led by the Giver to use the gifts He bestows while grateful for the gifts that shine forth from others?

    I remain a small part in his larger picture, but being a faithful steward of what He gives is how I want to be recognized.

  6. Darryl Fletcher Says: 7:23 am

    Hi Graham: I have been cooking for 32years now. We have just released Season 5 of At home with ChefD. you are so right when we first started I could hardly believe people watched!! Some would stop me at the store and say we watch your show. It has blossomed so much! God has given us a Gift!! When I met you In Vancouver about 5yrs ago, you gave me some great words of wisdom and encouragement which I still use to this day. From Humble beginning big things can happen! Thanks ChefD

  7. Michael Boyce Says: 8:42 pm

    Thank You,Graham! I have never been more pleased as I’m now Sharing My Story with You!

  8. Graham Says: 8:27 pm

    I am honored to be in the river of our lives with you all.because you know yourselves for who you are.
    Thank you for your stories I felt stronger having read them. Well don! Graham

  9. Pamela Gregson Says: 1:54 pm

    I started out cleaning kennels next door to George bests old house!! It was poor pay 14per week with weekends soon left to start a new job packing curtains for 16 per week finishing at 2 30 Friday afternoon and l was not going home smelling of dogs!!! I tried sewing sport wear but that just made me depressed and sick for a while l eventually packed laundry did much better for60pds a week.

  10. Dennis DeMolet Says: 12:58 pm

    You are and have been an ispriation to me.
    For over 50 years, WOW! Albeton Markets, TV Shows, and much more. Plus I have MANY of your books incuding the orginal first publication.
    My Daughter is a Professional Chef at Holiday inn Resorts in Destin Floriday (she is the boos), and I once myself a chef based on your books and knowledge.
    Thant being said I still follow you and THANKYOU!!

  11. Steve VanDerschelden Says: 11:19 am

    I started out in my aunts diner and cooking for harvest crew with my mom. I feel this has kept me grounded and my ego in check. I come from humble dirt poor farmers and I really think that has been a benefit to me my whole cooking career.

  12. Desha Says: 11:17 am

    1985, I was 32, raising a 12 year old boy on my own. I had a good job as a secretary but it wasn’t enough. I started serving the Washington Post in the very early morning. Up at 3:40, served 600 papers with my boy helping. 365 days a year. I learned how to put chains on my car tires, how to drive in any weather. Home after delivering papers, a quick shower, dropped my son off at school then 25 miles to my 50 hour a week job.
    I met my (ex) husband in 1987. Between the two of us, got a Washington Post distributorship which led to a great income. Did so well that at the Post’s Christmas dinner one year we were honored to be seated with Don Graham and his mom Kay Graham.

  13. Michael Boyce Says: 12:55 am

    Have to Add,Someone gave Me the Nickname of “Mr. Music”-I like it,it certainly fits My Style! For that,I;m By that,I’m so Greatful I can help people who are stuck on a Song Title-I’m always Glad to help them out!

  14. Michael Boyce Says: 12:48 am

    I started out on My Joutney with Musical Knowlege Lisrening to My Grandpa’s Reader’s Digest Stereo Victtrola at Age 3,and by the Time I was 15,I knew more about Music than an Adult! At first,I thought it was just Memory,but I found out later on I had Aspergers Disotder,Which gave Me Incredible Long Term Memory! I can now tell You,with only a few notes what song You are listening to,Who did it,the musicians who were at the sessions,The Recording Date it was held on,Chart Placings,the works! I’m very Proud,not humbled by it.

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