Tennessee Traveler: The real Walter Lambert

Knoxville, Tennessee For over 25 years we've watched Chef Walter Lambert on WVLT, but do you really know him? Local 8 News Anchor Alan Williams sat down with him to get the real story.

Walter Lambert grew up in the Gibbs community before his family moved on to Fountain City. His family raised horses when he was young.

"I learned how to cook out of necessity," Walter said. "I'm the oldest of eight, seven years between my next brother. I say my folks were good at family. They raised a babysitter, then raised a family, and I had to cook because my mother was sick a lot."

Chef Walter attended Central High School before moving on to the University of Tennessee. For the next 30 years, he worked in the Political Science Department, then as a lobbyist, spending most of his time in Nashville and Washington, D.C. He met a few presidents along the way.

Chef Walter also had a key role in bringing the 1982 World's Fair to Knoxville.

Walter used to look completely different as well.

"I'm a classic yo-yo dieter," he said. "My top weight was 297 pounds."

Walter suffered from high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes, so he went on a life changing diet. He started growing his beard one year when he and his wife Anne were at the beach. He said he wouldn't shave, and he still hasn't in 40 years.

His beloved wife Anne passed away in 2010, six months shy of their 50th wedding anniversary. He admitted Anne looked after him and even made all the center pieces Walter refers to on TV.

Anne once took a course in clothing design, and Walter questioned how hard it could be to design outfits.

"She said, 'If you're so smart, let's see you do something,'" Walter said. "I designed all of her dress-up clothes and some of her everyday clothes, and we had a lady who sewed them for us," Walter said.

When asked what Anne would say to him if she were alive today, Walter responded, "'Do you really want to keep that mustache?'"