January 8 — February 10
On the Main Stage

By James Still
Directed by Jessica Kubzansky
“Beautifully captures Beard’s zest for life.” —The Indianapolis Star

This new play celebrates the life and talent of a Portland, Oregon, original—James Beard.

Before Julia Child, before today’s proliferation of cooking shows and networks, there was James Beard, the first TV chef. He brought fine cooking to the small screen in 1946 and helped establish an American cuisine. But, as is often the case with pioneers, his early efforts on screen have been lost. He went on to become America’s first “foodie,” and the award bearing his name is still the prize most coveted by chefs. Playwright James Still invites you to meet the man described as “the face and belly of American gastronomy” in this play that recreates an evening at Beard’s New York home. 

PCS will join with Portland’s nationally-recognized food community to honor our homegrown culinary star.

Performance times:
Tuesday - Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Thursday matinees at noon

A full list of performances and dates will appear when you enter the ticketing section of the website.

I Love to Eat runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

Please note: Herbal cigarettes are used onstage during this production.

View the cast and creative team bios.

View the playbill for I Love to Eat.

Learn more about accessibility options at PCS.

Reviews and Features

Faddah Wolf | PortlandStageReviews.com [Review 22 Jan 2013]

James Beard (1903 – 1985) was Portland before Portland was Portland (or Portlandia, for that matter). Larger than life, big and ebulliant (as the on-stage character says in his hilarious ostentatious fanfare entrance, with Portland rose petals falling on him from the rafters — “Moderation? I’m against it!”) filled with an epicure’s passions (and as this show reminds us, he preferred “epicure,” an American English description, to the continental French words like “gourmand” and “cuisine”), a proto-Portland-foodie with the robust girth and appetites to match it, the quintessential host, world traveled and educated, yet with a love and dedication to his own very American, and yes, even home-grown local Portland flavor, openly gay, at least to close friends — Beard was, in a much less enlightened time, a trail blazer (pun somewhat intended) for many things we now consider common in our happy “Keep Portland Weird” city.

In James Still’s play, I Love To Eat, getting its West Coast Premiere at Portland Center Stage (oh why did it not World Premiere here in his home town? — the shame!), we meet Beard in all his over-the-top glory, in robe and silk pajamas to start, later in his trademark apron embroidered with his initials. We watch, rather enraptured, as he regales us as soirée host extraordinaire, hearing delightful dinner party gossip stories, such as his friendship with culinary queen, Julia Child (“I’m an inch taller than her, she’s an inch more famous than me.”), his travels from boyhood digging mussels on the Oregon coast with his mother, to forays into Opera around Europe and Theatre, before landing in his career as Chef by starting Hors D’oeuvres, Inc. in New York with friends, and lots of great re-living of his career on NBC as the first ever televised cooking show chef. You feel like you’re sitting down to drinks and canapés with the best of dinner party raconteurs.

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Byron Beck | Byronbeck.com [Review 18 Jan 2013]

EAT BEAT: “I Love to Eat” is more than just a great night of theater, it’s also an opportunity to spend time with a really cool guy.

Rob Nagle absolutely nails his portrayal of Oregon-born icon James Beard in a one-man show about a man many may have heard of, but may not know much about (except for those in the foodie world).

At Portland Center Stage, Nagle is not only able to pierce the membrane of a man who popularized the “American” style of cooking (there’s a great conversation about fried chicken embedded in this play) but he exposes the somewhat lonely soul of a man who not only loved to eat, but laugh, love and LIVE.

That’s the big message that “I Love To Eat” shares with its audience on the mainstage of the Armory. It’s not just about food, nor would it work if it was just about food; we have plenty of reality shows that do just that. No, this show is about the passions of one man, including his much missed and beloved Oregon, and how he was able to share that with not only with his dining companions but with the world. I could have spent the whole night listening to Nagel channel James Beard and his stories. And isn’t that what a good dinner host is supposed to do?

Opening night of this West Coast premiere was capped with a larger-than-life party, to benefit Portland’s soon-to-open public market featuring James Beard’s name, held in the lobby of the Gerding Theater featuring not one, but four, Portland-based James Beard Foundation winners including Gabe Rucker, Philippe Boulot, Corey Schreiber and Greg Higgins.

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Art and photos for I Love to Eat. View on Flickr »

Resource Guide

Download resource guide (PDF)

Tweets (#pcs_Eat)

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Production blog

2013 Year in Review

2013 Year in Review

30 December 2013 & Posted by Alice Hodge

It’s that time of year.


Surprise and Delight, Courtesy of Umpqua Bank

08 February 2013 & Posted by Ethan Keene

Last Thursday, after another fantastic performance of I Love to Eat starring Rob Nagle, Umpqua Bank generously treated our audience members to some delicious little morsels catered by our local French family bistro Chez Joly. Thank you Umpqua!


“Everyone Needs To Eat” – Growing Gardens

05 February 2013 & Posted by Shana

Portland Center Stage partnered with students from Portland State University’s Arts Advocacy class to create a series of blogs about non-profits working to end hunger. The students visited the organizations, interviewed staff, and wrote blogs about their experience from a personal perspective. These blogs will be featured right here, during the run of I Love to Eat. Our fourth installment features Growing Gardens.


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