About Burt Wolf

I was born on a small island just off the East Coast of the United States. Its name, Manhattan, comes from a Native American language and means “place of inebriation.”

I attended the High School of Music & Art – as an art student, New York University – where I earned a BA degree in English Literature, and New York University Law School, where I learned that expert legal advice is one of the keys to happiness.

I have made television programs, written, edited and published books, consulted for major corporations and governments on product development, and marketing, built and ran a restaurant, worked in the travel industry and published museum-quality photography. All of which is dwarfed by my activities as husband and father of four boys. 

I have never been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder; however, I am often described as having an unusually wide range of interests. 

Television Production

I have produced over 4,000 segments for CNN (Cable News Network), 800 segments for ABC (the American Broadcasting Company), 125 half-hour programs for the travel division of The Discovery Channel, and 350 half-hours for public broadcasting in the United States.

Our programs are broadcast on Public Television to 90% of the television homes in the United States, then translated into Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Mandarin and Korean and syndicated to an international audience of over 100 million.

Our cultural history programs have included: The History and Future of Shopping; a series on Sacred Pilgrimage Sites; and a series on the History of Immigration to the United States. The New York Times described them as “the best food, travel, and cultural history shows on television.”

In the Taste of Freedom series, we explored 13 major American holidays and gatherings to learn the history, folklore and rituals that have become central to those events. Special attention was paid to different ethnic groups and how they brought their own traditions to the occasions.

Travels & Traditions is a series of half-hour programs in which we travel to cities around the world and present their history, culture, gastronomy and tourist attractions.

 At present, I am working as the executive producer of two new series, Artcops and Antiques Challenge, and overseeing the early research for a third series.

Artcops is a series of half-hour programs about missing art. Each year over 7 billion dollars of art, jewelry and antiques are stolen. The programs describe which objects have been stolen, why they are valuable from a historical and cultural viewpoint, how the theft took place and what the public can do to help recover the items. A central theme is the importance of these articles to the world’s cultural history.

Antiques Challenge is a television series with Internet and e-commerce components – the Antiques Roadshow meets eBay.

My co-host is Newell Turner (the Editorial Director of House Beautiful and Elle Décor). The programs begin by presenting the history, cultural traditions and foods of a specific city in France. The major part of the program follows a team of experts who are challenged to furnish a dining room and a kitchen with things they buy in the antique shops and flea markets of the city. They work as a team and have four days and a limited budget to get the job done. As they shop, they also tell the viewers about the history, culture and technical aspects of the things they buy. At the end of the program, viewers are directed to a website where the objects that have been purchased for the show are offered for sale.

Aging Well will be a 10-part television series that presents the most reliable research we have on non-invasive techniques for staying healthier longer. An associated website will be updated each week. The series tag line is “How To Add Years To Your Life And Life To Your Years.”. 

Publishing

I have written or edited 67 books. They were distributed by major publishing companies including Random House, Knopf, Doubleday, Simon & Schuster and McGraw Hill.

The Cooks’ Catalogue, which is a guide to the history and use of cooking equipment, is often credited with starting the gourmet equipment business in the United States.  TIME magazine described the book as “the definitive work on cooking equipment.”

For a number of years I authored a weekly column for The Washington Post and was a regular contributor to the online publication, Salon.com.  

Consulting

Clients for my work as a communications consultant include Procter & Gamble, eBay, ConAgra Foods, Federated Department Stores, the government of Switzerland, the government of Taiwan, the government of Norway, the government of Canada and the government of Chile.

Product Development

I have worked on product development for a number of major companies including Procter & Gamble, General Foods, McCormick and the Origins division of Estee Lauder.

Retailing

In partnership with Federated Department Stores (Bloomingdale’s), I designed and managed a group of 276 food and cooking equipment shops that were installed in Federated stores throughout the United States. The franchise was eventually extended to May Company, Marshall Field’s, Ives and Macy’s outlets.

Restaurants

In 1980, I developed a branch restaurant in Memphis for the Brennan Restaurant group of New Orleans. I was responsible for raising the funding, the physical plan, menu and operating systems. The restaurant is still profitable and has had two expansions.

Travel

In 2005, I developed a travel company (Burt Wolf Tours & Cruises) to raise funds for local Public Television stations. The company takes PBS viewers on tours and cruises throughout the world. The group takes a trip that is based on one of our programs. They visit the same sites and travel the same route that was presented on Public Television.

Photography

I was the founder of the Double Elephant Press. For the past forty years, Double Elephant has published signed numbered portfolios containing the work of some of the world’s greatest photographers including Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand and Helmut Newton. In 2011, we worked with curators at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art on a Public Television program that examined the relationship between photography and gastronomy and titled What Are They Eating In The Photograph?