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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BOIARDI, HECTOR - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BOIARDI, HECTOR (1897-21 June 1985), known to millions as Chef Boy-ar-dee, began as a local restaurateur. Boiardi, son of Joseph and Mary (Maffi) Boiardi, began cooking in Italy at 10. He left for New York about 1914 to work at the Ritz Carlton. He came to Cleveland 3 years later as chef at the Hotel Winton, where his spaghetti dinners became the talk of the Midwest. Boiardi married Helen Wroblewski on 7 April 1923. In 1924 they opened their first restaurant, the Giardino d'Italia. By 1928 their dine-in and carry-out operation required factory production, and their products were sold in stores over an expanding geographic area, prompting the name change to the phonetic Chef Boy-ar-dee, with the chef's picture as the trademark.

Producing tasty and inexpensive meals, the Boiardi company prospered in the Depression. To be close to tomato fields, Boiardi moved the company to Milton, Pa.. During WORLD WAR II Boiardi developed field rations for the armed services. By war's end, sales of Chef Boy-ar-dee Quality Foods were $20 million annually, and the operation was sold to American Home Foods for $6 million. The chef was a company consultant until 1978.

Boiardi remained in local restaurants, opening Chef Boiardi's in 1931 and also acquiring interests other restaurants. A talented businessman, after a venture in 1946 to produce animal food from restaurant scraps, Boiardi bought the Milton Steel Co. after a strike, and sold it for a large profit in 1951. When this pioneer in convenience foods died in 1985, Boiardi's former company's sales were $500 million a year

The Boiardi's had one son, Mario. Boiardi died in PARMA and was buried at the All Souls Cemetery there. Last Modified: 10 Jul 1997 05:10:59 PM


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