(1898 - 1985)
There really was a Chef Boyardee, and believe it or not he was a pretty good chef. Hector Boyardi (originally Boiardi) was born in Italy in 1898, and began working in kitchens at 11 years of age. By the age of 17 he was well known for his culinary talents, and in 1915 he moved to New York to join his brother, who was a waiter at the Plaza Hotel.
Hector joined the kitchen staff of the Plaza, and after working in various hotel kitchen in New York (including the Ritz-Carlton), the Greenbriar in West Virginia (where he catered President Woodrow Wilson's wedding), and finally in Cleveland at the new Hotel Winton.
Three years later he opened his own restaurant, Il Giardino d'Italia, where his spaghetti sauce was so popular, he was soon selling it in milk bottles for his customers to take home. He was soon producing the sauce in an adjacent building, expanded to include dry pasta and packets of cheese to go with the sauce. As the sauce business expanded, he Americanized his name to Chef Boyardee, and moved production to Pennsylvania, where the company later merged with American Home Products (now International Home Foods). He worked with the company until his death in 1985. ConAgra now owns the company.