The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Author Frank DeCaro Dishes About What Famous Dead People Once Ate
Health Communications Celebs might be gone, but they're not forgotten.
While celebrities now get their food fixes at trendy restaurants like L.A.'s Koi or Nobu, once upon a time they actually cooked. Eartha Kitt made a mean chicken wing, Gilda Radner whipped up a sumptuous apple cake, and Johnny Cash fried okra to perfection. And Frank DeCaro has collected their recipes in a new cookbook called, appropriately, The Dead Celebrity Cookbook. "When I was a student at Northwestern University in the early '80s, one of my classmates threw a dead-celebrity party," explains DeCaro. "We all went dressed as our favorite dead celebrities. Everyone was there from Sid Vicious to Eva Perón to Bojangles. The one thing we didn't have at the party was food that matched our theme. That party planted the seed for this book."
So over the past 20 years, DeCaro has scoured flea markets and eBay for old cookbooks, magazines, pamphlets, and "really anything that had celebrity recipes in it." Says DeCaro, "It was either do something with all of it, or get cast on Hoarders."
"I wrote The Dead Celebrity Cookbook not so much to preserve the recipes but to honor the memory of these performers," he explains. "A lot of people have never even heard of some of these celebrities. That upsets me. They deserve to be remembered. So for every recipe from a legend like Michael Jackson, there's one from an obscure character actor like Vito Scotti, or an underground singer like Klaus Nomi, who, you should know, made a killer key lime pie, even if he was from another planet."
All the recipes are authentic to the stars, though DeCaro notes that he occasionally had to substitute ingredients if they weren't still manufactured today. But Elizabeth Taylor's chicken with avocado and mushrooms is, yes, a tried-and-true Liz Taylor original. Ditto Lucille Ball's Sunday night goulash and Dusty Springfield's banana pudding. Occasionally DeCaro modified the recipes for modern convenience. "Some of the methodology was pretty sketchy in the original recipes," he explains. "Many of them were first written down before we had food processors and microwave ovens to make our lives easier. So I updated some of the recipes as I saw fit. Why use a double boiler to melt chocolate when you can use a measuring cup in the microwave?"