A Pelham native creates his own cooking show

Jonathan Bardzik has a powerful yet simple life motto: live life happily.

As the host of a new cooking show airing on Revry, a global LGBTQ+ streaming network, the Pelham native begins each episode by saying, “I believe life can and should be lived with joy, and I find that every day by preparing a simple meal, setting a table and sharing it with the people I love. And I want to share it with you.

Despite Bardzik’s passion for food and cooking, he defines himself as “a storyteller, cook and author rather than a chef”. Because for him, the heart of his work has always been centered on “giving and sharing the ability with people to create these privileged moments at home”.

Damian Pelliccione, CEO and Co-Founder of Revry, said Bardzik “is a force of nature and as a married gay chef, we knew his talents would connect with our audience. We are thrilled to champion his delicious gifts! »

Bardzik, who now lives in Washington, DC, directs, co-produces and writes the eight-episode series based on his cookbook, “Seasons to Taste: Farm-fresh joy for kitchen and table.” When creating the show, he decided he didn’t want it to just be about putting together recipes – he wanted to create something that would showcase the amazing stories, people and joy that are linked to it.

Different guests are featured in each episode, including Bardzik’s 75-year-old parents, who still live in western Massachusetts on a historic dairy farm. Growing up, her mother baked all their bread, germinated seeds in jars, and learned how to can and freeze fresh vegetables from their garden and local farms. Bardzik’s father received his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in plant and soil science and also started his own garden center and landscaping business, Tarnów Nursery in Chicopee.

Bardzik remembers that he was only 4 years old and that he was walking in the yard while his father was talking to him about plants “like he had learned in the doctorate. level.” Experiences like these, Bardzik said, are common for many Valley residents.

“You talk about everything from the food on your table, to the books you read, to the car you drive, and it’s in the context of educated people with this broad perspective on everything you do. I have so wanted to share these stories. And I have to do it by broadcasting the show around culinary experts, friends and family.

In the episode with his parents, there is a moment at the end where Bardzik’s husband, Jason, comes home from a baseball game to have dinner with the family. Bardzik’s father stops setting the table and gives his son-in-law a big hug, then his mother too. Then they all sit down and share a meal.

This moment, and moments like these throughout the show, are important to Bardzik. As a gay man, Bardzik grew up with a welcoming community and family but, “without any point of reference”, struggled to understand his identity. Although there’s more depiction now, it’s so often centered around struggle and tears, but that wasn’t Bardzik’s experience growing up, and that’s not what he wanted to portray, he said.

“You can see two gay people who don’t fit your stereotypes,” Bardzik said, “we’re sitting around the table with my parents, and I hope that’s this very real, very simple picture of what a good life can look like without struggle and coming from, I think the challenges specifically as gay men, but that we all have – we all have to find our place in the world.

A love of cooking

Bardzik never imagined having his own TV show or being the author of three cookbooks. He graduated from Colby College as a theater major and returned home bored and alone without his friends. For fun, he started cooking a meal once a week and found that this meal brought a significant change in his life.

“I could elevate my life far beyond my financial means at that time by…choosing from my parents’ dishes, setting a table, and spending time creating something special. And I felt so empowered by that.

Several years later, after earning his MBA at UMass, successfully working as a marketing and public relations director for AmericanHort, marrying her husband and living in a nice area of ​​DC, Bardzik wondered what her life might be like. “next big adventure” in life.

He began contacting the Eastern Market Farm Vendors in Washington and asked if he could use their ingredients and space to do live cooking demonstrations. Until last year regularly demonstrated in 10 different markets.

never stop talking

To keep the show from getting bored, the first piece of advice Bardzik received was to never stop talking. While cutting or peeling a vegetable, he would fill the spaces with stories. Here, Bardzik witnessed how food could be used to share stories and connect with others.

But Bardzik also saw once again how food could be used to improve people’s circumstances, as it had done for him after college. He would see people at the market coming from million-dollar homes on East Capitol Street, and they would shop with people from low-income, predominantly black families. They laughed at the same things, asked the same questions and ate the same food, Bardzik said.

“It made it so clear to me that even though we don’t all work with the same budgets, and there are definitely people who have radically different access…the food is so uniform and I love that. I think we we all deserve to have access to joy, to knowledge, to be proud of ourselves and what we do with our lives. And I think food is one of those things that can transcend that for many different people,” Bardzik said.

Bardzik started their demos in July 2011, released their first cookbook in September 2013, and their third cookbook will be released in August. This will also mark Bardzik’s seventh year working for himself. He has been recognized by The Washington Post, USA Today, Food Network Magazine, and has been featured on Fox, ABC, and CBS morning news shows in the DC area, as well as on TedX. He reached over 900 audiences, teaching recipes and sharing stories so joy could be brought to everyone’s table.

“To be here now, I look at my past… [and] it all comes together in a career in a way I could never have imagined. And it looks like such a gift.