Hector Boiardi of ‘Chef Boy-Ar-Dee’ Foods Dies
Hector Boiardi, an immigrant who began packing sauces for his restaurant customers to take home and from that developed the popular Chef Boy-Ar-Dee line of Italian foods, was buried Monday.
Boiardi died Friday night at a nursing home in suburban Parma. He was 87.
David P. Jaicks, president of American Home Foods, a division of the American Home Products Co., which bought the Boy-Ar-Dee line in 1946, said Boiardi lived in suburban Shaker Heights for many years and had been ill only a short time.
Born in Piacenza, Italy, Boiardi began as an apprentice chef in a hotel in his hometown when he was 11. He arrived in America in 1917 and worked in restaurants and hotels in New York and White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., where he catered President Woodrow Wilson’s second marriage.
In 1928 Boiardi moved to Cleveland and with his wife opened the Il Giardino D’Italia, a modestly priced restaurant in the city’s financial district. Their food became so popular that customers kept asking for portions of pasta, sauce and cheese to take home.
Needing a supply of a particular kind of tomato for the sauce, Boiardi went to the Depression-distressed town of Milton, Pa., where he called a meeting of local farmers in a high school gymnasium and asked if they would grow the tomatoes.
They agreed, and he established an Italian food products factory in a closed hosiery mill in Milton.
Boiardi said he phoneticized his food-product packages because even his own salesmen couldn’t pronounce it.
“Everyone is proud of his own family name, but sacrifices are necessary for progress,” Boiardi said at the time.
The first Chef Boy-Ar-Dee product was a package containing dry pasta, a can of sauce and a small packet of grated cheese. The company later branched out to canned items, pizza mix and frozen pizzas.
Survivors include his wife Helen, a son Mario, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.