Bruce Brennan - Host The Hippy Gourmet TV show

 

Prior to becoming the host of his own public television cooking show, Bruce Brennan co-hosted The Herb’n Inn Bed and Breakfast in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury of San Francisco, in a Victorian home that he and his sister lovingly restored in the late 1980’s.

Bruce’s roots in the culinary arts go back to the 1960’s, growing up in New York on Long Island and coming of age as a flower-child during the colorful Hippie heyday. Bruce became a devotee to Euell Gibbons, the world famous author and naturalist, after reading his book “Stalking the Wild Asparagus.” Thereafter, Bruce prepared natural foods while cooking for his family and friends.

While the Vietnam War raged on, Bruce did his part to help his eldest brother’s friends from being drafted, working with his mother Peg and his sister Pam to assist these young men across the border into Canada.

Even as a teenager, Bruce was actively involved in the anti-war protest movement. His mother provided the necessary absentee notices so he could attend marches and non-violent demonstrations. Although Bruce marched for peace, he quickly found himself caught up in a whirlwind of police brutality and some media attention that ultimately got him expelled from public school in New York for truancy.

Bruce and his sister Pam did what many socially responsible individuals in their teens and early 20’s did during that time, they picked up and moved to San Francisco, California! Finding their way into the heart of the Haight-Ashbury Bruce quickly found himself cooking for literally hundreds of people a day, ‘serving his country’ by his preferred method of feeding hungry hippies as they danced and twirled up to his soup pots.

To continue and complete his high school education, Bruce attended Pacific High School, located in the second most popular Hippie location in the world, the pristine redwoods of Santa Cruz, California.

It was here that Bruce learned about R. Buckminster Fuller, a futurist architect who invented the Geodesic dome (among other inventions). ‘Bucky,’ as he was referred to, wrote extensively about ‘space ship earth,’ with the notion that humanity should redraw the globe without borders and build societies based on natural resources, such that everyone could be fed, housed and live peacefully in balance with the universe.

Bruce was so inspired by Buckminster Fuller that he and his classmates at Pacific High set out to build working Geodesic domes on the school grounds, and dedicated their educational experience to spread the word about Bucky’s earth-positive philosophies.

Bruce participated both in Woodstock and Altamont concerts preparing food for wayward travelers, while hitchhiking his way around the country and cooking for rides and tickets to shows. During this time Bruce continued his own personal path toward learning about sustainable agriculture and wild food sources, bringing people together to cook meals and show them the benefits of living off the land and discovering ingredients foraging through the forests of Northern California.

After high school, Bruce returned to New York where he began to work professionally in restaurants, working his way up from a dishwasher, prep chef and sous chef, and ultimately became a line chef at the IBM headquarters on Long Island, where he cooked for the upper management and executives in their private cafeteria and catered all of their events. He was the youngest head chef in history to take this position. All of the surrealism aside, Bruce felt like he was inside the belly of the beast, learning how corporate America feeds itself on prime rib, potatoes and martinis.

Thereafter, Bruce became Head Chef at the Brasserie St. Germain, a French restaurant, where he honed the art of classic French cuisine.

But as the war continued in Vietnam, Bruce’s conscience got the best of him- with the corporate system that extracts taxes to pay for illegal and immoral wars around the world.

So in 1972, Bruce bought some property with a friend up in Nova Scotia, Canada and set out to build his own ‘Bucky’ Fuller dome. It was here in Nova Scotia, on the rolling hills of northeastern Canada, that Bruce would have the epiphany of his life. Living in a sustainable home, built with his own hands from recycled materials, eating off the land and surviving the harsh winters alone, Bruce communed with creatures of all kinds (including some extraterrestrials).

This experience brought Bruce in touch with his own connection to the universe, to the cycle of life and to the simplest, purest thoughts imaginable.

After the war ended in 1974, Bruce decided to move back to California to settle in Los Angeles where he began cooking again as a professional chef. Working in and around southern California, Bruce was exposed to the music and film industry and began catering to backstage and location events up and down the coast.

Cooking for everyone from Stevie Nicks, to Francis Ford Coppola and even Ronald Reagan, Bruce became adept at catering large scale events, knowing just how to please every palate and taste. Perhaps it was this period that most shaped Bruce’s aesthetic for presentation, as he began to discover the Asian techniques for garnishing plates and platters.

In 1988, Bruce'ss sister Pam, who lived in San Francisco since 1973 located an ideal property from which she could realize her vision to establish a bed and breakfast and host an internationally revolving family. Cosmically, it happened to be a half a block from the famed intersection of Haight-Ashbury. Pam proposed that their Dad sell the family home, move to San Francisco and buy a fixer-upper Victorian in the Haight.

Their father agreed that he would pay half the purchase price with the sale proceeds from their Long Island family home and Pam would pay the other half by assuming a mortgage, then running the bed and breakfast once she got it approved through the City Planning process.

It was soon apparent that Bruce's culinary expertise, familiarity with commercial kitchens and love of herb and vegetable gardening had a definite place at The Herb'n Inn. Bruce helped with the renovations and was soon co-hosting at the inn.
Bruce taught Pam many of his culinary secrets and together they served delicious breakfasts to guests from around the world.
The business flourished and word about the "cool and cozy little inn in the heart of the Haight" spread internationally.

Bruce and Pam realized that their collective bi-coastal 1960's history yielded a substantial collection of historic documents, posters and memorabilia - a perfect addition to their somewhat hippie-centric B&B, and thus the ‘Psychedelic History Museum' was born.

The museum nicely complemented a neighborhood walking tour established by Rachel Heller. Rachel recognized Bruce's enthusiasm for and expertise on the era and how appropriate he'd be as a guide. Soon thereafter she urged Pam to buy the "Flower Power Walking Tour" so Bruce, and ultimately Pam, could continue as its guides.

The Psychedelic History Museum is open only in conjunction with the walking tour which is offered each Saturday and Tuesday morning, or upon request for groups of four or more. The tour is approximately 40% general neighborhood history and architecture and 60% beat, rock'n roll, commune and counter culture history.

In 2001, The Herb’n Inn shifted from accommodating short-term B&B guests to monthly guests thereby attracting mostly medical students and other professionals instead of tourists. This decision enabled both Bruce and Pam to pursue other interests and devise a new use for their suddenly underutilized kitchen.

The Hippy Gourmet television series, produced, directed and edited by James Ehrlich was born. Bruce was the perfect culinary TV show host and The Herb'n Inn kitchen the perfect set. Pam was able to cultivate her interest in digital video editing as James' prolific shooting provided ample material with literally hundreds of culinary delights lovingly prepared by Bruce, The Hippy Gourmet.

Starting small at first, reaching out to public access cable TV stations in San Francisco and Marin County California, The Hippy Gourmet quickly caught on and became a cult hit. Thereafter public access stations around the country were asking for episodes to air on their channels and in 2004 the Hippy Gourmet began broadcasting on PBS nationally.

Reaching over 6,000,000 homes a week in over 110 PBS stations and 54 public access cable channels, as well as globally being broadcast via Google video, The Hippy Gourmet and Bruce Brennan have become popular around the world.

The Hippy Gourmet TV show has traveled the globe, from the Rain Forests of the Amazon in Brazil, to Tuscany and Sardinia in Italy, Amsterdam in Holland and with extensive travel plans to come.

Bringing the philosophies of Euell Gibbons, R. Buckminster Fuller and Alice Waters, among others, Bruce Brennan connects millions of viewers each week with his own blend of positive messages of proactive love for the planet and each other, wrapped up in several easy-to-learn recipes.

Bruce’s warmth and mellow tone have been featured on CBS Evening Magazine, NPR Talk of the Nation, Sunrise Australia, San Francisco Examiner, Bay Guardian & More.

 

 

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