In the Kitchen with Vincent Price

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This post is part of my month-long celebration of Vincent Price–TCM’s October Star of the Month. For further reading see Vincent Price Takes Center Stage, Vincent Price’s Small Screen Successes and Vincent Price & Gene Tierney: A Doomed Romance.

Since moving to the Napa Valley–one of America’s premiere ‘foodie’ capitols–three years ago I’ve been trying to teach myself how to cook. Decades of city apartment living had turned me into a takeout junkie and I could barely remember how to put a proper sandwich together. Why bother when you have a great Italian deli just a block away? So far my cooking adventures have yielded mixed results but I’m always on the lookout for new recipes and cooking ideas so I recently turned to Vincent Price for inspiration.

Vincent Price was many things besides being an accomplished actor and the “Crown Price of Horror.” He was a loving father, a respected art collector, an avid reader, a self-proclaimed Anglophile and a big game fisherman. He was also a skilled gourmet chef who wrote a number of critically acclaimed cookbooks and became the Ambassador of California Wine in 1965. He appeared on various television programs showcasing his chef skills and eventually went on to host his own cooking show in Britain in the 1970s called Cooking Price-Wise. Price’s cooking adventures have intrigued his fans for many years and according to the popular used book site Book Finders Price’s cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes (originally published in 1965), is still a strong seller.

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vpdiningroomTop: Vincent Price and wife Mary in their kitchen from A Treasury of Great Recipes (1965)
Bottom: The Price family dining room

Eating from home can become far too taken for granted when actually it should always be a very special occasion. The grab-a-bite-on-the-run routine so many of us live with in this fast-paced nation not only spoils are digestion but deprives us of the pleasures and relaxation afforded by good food and interesting people . . . we’ve tried to bring together some of the special dishes we prepare, some of the things we do to make our meals more fun and interesting (napkins folded in attractive shapes, wines carefully selected–even for informal outdoor dining) so home can rival the most exciting restaurant in the world.
– Vincent Price from A Treasury of Great Recipes

While scanning the pages of this fascinating cookbook I began to quickly understand why it has appealed to generations of foodies and aspiring chefs. First and foremost, Price’s writing is warm, inviting and unmistakably his own. He makes the richest meals seem appealing to the common man while elevating common meals such as the good ol’ American ballpark frank (“No hot dog ever tastes as good as the ones at the ball park.” – Vincent Price). Most of the recipes are borrowed from some of the world’s most established restaurants at the time but he also includes Price family recipes that have been improvised in his own kitchen. And best of all, Vincent Price makes me want to cook. His enthusiasm for cooking encourages me to be a better chef and I suspect that this is one of reasons why his cookbooks are still selling. If he can inspire me to cook, he can inspire anyone!

Because my father was often away, I came to think of every day I spent alone with him as our own private special occasion, always imbued with a kind of magic. This extended to his cooking. I always loved to watch his enormous, yet elegant and gentle, hands breaking the eggs for a soufflé or tossing a salad. He made the most extraordinary soufflé . . .
Victoria Price from Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography

According to Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria, her father was particularly apt at making a good soufflé so I thought I’d share one of his soufflé related recipes from a A Treasury of Great Recipes. This was adapted from a recipe that originally came from the Pierre Grill in New York circa 1965 and although I haven’t had the chance to try it myself it sounds wonderful so I hope to give it a go soon.

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If Price’s Soufflé Pudding Pierre recipe doesn’t grab your attention you might find some of his other recipes appealing. One that might be of particular interest this holiday season is Vincent Price’s Pumpkin Pie recipe, which can be found at the wonderful Silver Screen Suppers blog. This month Silver Screen Suppers is holding a Vincent Price Halloween Cookalong and anyone and everyone is invited to participate. Just bake up a Vincent Price Pumpkin Pie or throw together some of his Ghoulish Goulash on Halloween night and contact Silver Screen Suppers to share your results.

In the meantime you can get warmed up for the Vincent Price Halloween Cookalong by trying one of the many recipes that I’ve compiled below. The following links will take you to text recipes as well as cooking videos that might encourage you to cook up some of your own Vincent Price inspired delicacies.

The point of all this is to make meals fun for ourselves, our family and friends. We know a lot of people with plenty of this world’s good and even more with little. Too often the ones with little feel that they can’t compete with the ones with a lot, while the later think plenty tastes good just because there’s plenty of it. The ones we enjoy seeing and dining with are the ones that do plenty with what they have.”
– Vincent Price from A Treasury of Great Recipes

vpcheftobloodFurther reading & watching:

- The Vincentennial Cookblog

- Famous Chefs – Vincent Price Recipes

- Eating Vincent Price

- Vincent Price, Hot Dogs and You

- A Slash & Dine Toast to Vincent Price

- My Dinners with Vincent

- Vincent Price is Haunting my Kitchen

- Vincent Price Cooks with Wolfgang Puck

16 Responses In the Kitchen with Vincent Price
Posted By MedusaMorlock : October 25, 2013 1:20 am

Great post, Kimberly! Food and Vincent — no better combination! I guess I hadn’t realized he was such an accomplished chef, just like my favorite Danny Kaye, though Danny never did a cookbook. Price was so cultured and intensely interested in such an array of subjects — what a guy!

Posted By Jenny Hammerton : October 25, 2013 11:05 am

Fantastic post! The Treasury of Great Recipes really is a thing of wonderment. Every kitchen should have one… Thanks so much for the links – all welcome for the Vincent Price Halloween Cookalong – it will be so much fun. Happy Halloween – Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers and the Vincentennial Cookblog xxx

Posted By Vincent Price Halloween Cookalong – Quick Update | Silver Screen Suppers : October 25, 2013 1:16 pm

[…] In the Kitchen With Vincent Price […]

Posted By LD : October 25, 2013 1:55 pm

For years a hypothetical question has circulated- “Who would invite to a dinner party if you could choose anyone living or dead?” One of my choices would be Vincent Price. Not only would I want his company for his diversity of interests, wit, and gift of conversation, I would also want him to cook the meal.

Posted By Ben Martin : October 25, 2013 2:56 pm

Kimberly – This is a great post. I love to talk about meeting Vincent Price back stage at one of his lecture stops for his “Villains Still Pursue Me” tour in 1977.
My sister and i were alone with him for ten full minutes, the three of us standing next to the back stage light board, so we had quality time to chat about Poe, Phibes and art. (We could have staid there all night, and in hind sight, i wonder if he might have accepted a dinner in our home in beautiful St. marys, PA.) My sister, an amazing artist, did a portrait of him and he was wonderfully gracious and appreciative. For Halloween, i will attempt his souffle and share with frineds and family as we watch House of Wax (I DVRd it last night) thanks to your great blog post.

Posted By Susan Doll : October 25, 2013 3:27 pm

What a fun post. I, too, am culinary challenged, so I can relate to the “why cook” mentality.

Vincent Price was such a “Renaissance man.” Are you going to do a piece on him as an art collector?

Posted By Meg Hammil : October 25, 2013 11:22 pm

I have a copy of another of his cookbooks: “Come into the Kitchen.” He was a truly versatile person as well as actor. Victoria’s bio is one of the best I have ever read by a celebrity child. I don’t have the book on hand right now, but I believe that for one of the editions of Book of Lists, Vincent did his own list of who he would have to dinner, with witty comments on each guests. Anyone remember who he invited?

Posted By Doug : October 26, 2013 2:30 am

Oh the fun-Kimberly, Susan, I hope that Mr Price’s example does encourage you to look into the culinary arts.
I went to culinary school compliments of the US Coast Guard, and I still use some of the skills I learned there.
“The ear tastes words as the tongue tastes foods”-it is possible to be as creative in a kitchen as we are at a keyboard. Or an easel. Or fill in the blank.

Posted By Gary : October 27, 2013 4:05 am

It does not surprise me that Vincent Price was a gourmet cook not for the sake of glory, but as a pleasure to be shared with family, friends and his admirers around the world, for that is exactly the type of man he was. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Price in the early 1970′s when he presented a lecture on great villains throughout history (could he have chosen a more perfect subject?) at Emory University in Atlanta. His speech was fascinating, informative and laced with humor and with, all made even more memorable by that incomparable, inimitable voice.

I was in my late teens at the time and a chunky, geeky, life-long horror fan, so I had taken my copy of “Heroes of the Horrors,” an excellent work by Calvin Beck that devoted a chapter apiece to Mr. Price, Lon Chaney Sr. and Jr., Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre to the lecture, hoping for the slim chance to get an autograph before his handlers whisked him away into the night.

My expectations for a quickly scrawled signature were violated in the most pleasant possible way. Not only did Mr. Price not immediately take his leave, but stayed at the podium, speaking with the surprisingly few fans who had remained. I assumed the other members of the audience had left because they, like I, assumed that the star would himself leave at the conclusion of the lecture. They, of course, were mistaken and missed a rare opportunity to meet and converse with one of the true greats.

When I presented the book to Mr. Price with a mumbled request for an autograph, he did not just take it, sign it and hand it back, but thumbed through it and commented on his chapter and on the chapters of his compatriots in the cinema of fear. He handed it back to me with a gracious smile, shook my hand again, and thanked all of us there for staying to chat. I, naturally, being young, nervous and given to highly embarrassing hyperbole, said something to the effect of, “Well, you don’t often get a chance to meet a legend.”

When I actually thought of what came out of my mouth, I wanted nothing more than to crawl away in shame. If I had been in Mr. Price’s position, I would have (silently) snorted in derision and moved to the other side of the group. He, however, clutched his chest with his right hand as if his heart was fairly bursting with the compliment, gasped, and steadied himself by placing his left hand on my shoulder. The smile that spread across his face was not ironic or sarcastic, but filled with warmth, humor and an obvious love for his fans, no matter how chunky, geeky and nerdy they might have been.

That very small incident remains one of my all-time favorite memories, and whenever I see Vincent Price movie, or even a preview for one coming up on TCM, I remember not just what a great actor he was, but what a great gentleman.

Posted By 31 Days of Halloween – 027: Three Skeleton Key Starring Vincent Price « Durnmoose Movie Musings : October 27, 2013 10:10 am

[…] In the Kitchen with Vincent Price (moviemorlocks.com) […]

Posted By swac44 : October 27, 2013 12:06 pm

I can’t resist posting this YouTube clip in a discussion of Vincent Price and food. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amICZ1aVaCg

Posted By Heidi : October 28, 2013 4:07 pm

Thank you for this wonderful post!! I am asking for this book for Christmas. My husband does most of the cooking at our house, as I have lost the desire after two surgeries for some reason. I still am interested in cooking, and these look like it might make me take up my apron again…a least a bit! I didn’t really know much about his cooking, so this is really fascinating!

Posted By Doug : October 28, 2013 8:52 pm

MedusaMorlock-if you haven’t seen it yet, Dena Kaye is interviewed about her dad at blu ray dot com:
http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=12445
As Jeff Kaufman mentions at the end of the interview, wouldn’t it be great to see a Blu ray of “The Court Jester”?

Posted By Murphy’s Law : October 29, 2013 10:32 pm

Is it wrong that he has no tapestries in his dining room and no guillotine in his kitchen?

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : October 31, 2013 10:50 pm

Just want to thank everyone for all the comments & wish you all a Happy Halloween! I’ve been having trouble getting email notices recently telling me I have new comments so I just noticed them today.

Posted By Devilled rib bones for a Vincent Price Halloween cookalong | My Custard Pie : November 4, 2013 3:10 am

[…] In the Kitchen with Vincent Price (moviemorlocks.com) […]

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