“by Omaha sculptor John Lajba”
The task of bringing Chef Boyardee to life fell to Omaha sculptor John Lajba. Chef Boyardee isn't a cartoon or a corporate creation, Lajba said. “He was a human being.” Parents and grandparents might remember when the man himself appeared in most of the brand's television commercials. Hector Boiardi — he went by “Boy-ar-dee” because it was easier for Americans to pronounce — was a hotel chef and restaurateur before he opened a packaged Italian foods company in the 1920s. Boiardi died in 1985 at 87. ConAgra Foods acquired the company in 2000. Lajba used many photos of Boiardi for reference. “He was a man who had a lot of class and a lot of charm.”
Location changed to 707 Congra drive
To begin telling the story of Chef Boyardee is to begin naming the stars. At first, the task comes easy, but stay too long at it and one might lose themselves in possibility and wonder. The statue, sturdy like a reliable wooden spoon atop a boiling pot of pasta, is tucked away in downtown Omaha, near enough the city, but close enough to home (the Con Agra business office which is an entirely unremarkable building). Chef is taller than one might think based on the crude photos available online-I suppose to capture the likeness of greatness is to count the wind-but he’s gotta be like 6’+, easy. Bronze, yes, but his smile, cheeks full of color. The hat atop his head stands with the confidence and pride of a statue that has surely changed the lives of many. If you haven’t been, GO. GO ON! Let the Chef cook up some excitement in your life. 10/10 raviolis.
Found another traveling buddy.
Right across the street from the Omaha Visitor's Center (which is terrific) -- you might as well walk the 100 feet for the photo op, especially if you grew up with Spaghetti Os.
We almost missed him! He is standing behind the ConAgra sign that is right at the corner of 10th and Farnam, facing southeast. Good for a photo op and to stretch your legs!
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Chef Boyardee Statue
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