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“Frugal Gourmet,” Methodist minister Jeff Smith dead at 65


(RNS) Jeff Smith, the Seattle-based minister known for his role as public television’s “Frugal Gourmet,” died July 7.

Smith, 65, died in his sleep, his business manager Jim Paddleford said.

The United Methodist minister sported a white beard and donned a striped apron on the PBS show that aired from 1983 to 1997, becoming the nation’s most-watched cooking program.

But in 1997, seven men filed suit alleging they had been sexually abused by Smith as youths. Six said they were abused while they worked for him at the Chaplain’s Pantry, a restaurant he ran in Tacoma in the 1970s. The seventh man alleged Smith abused him in 1992 after picking him up as a hitchhiker.

Smith denied the allegations and was never charged with a crime, but was soon off the air. He and his insurance companies paid an undisclosed sum for a suit settlement.