Remember the days when you could meet friends for an elaborate meal in a restaurant, or go round to a friend’s place for lunch? Any time you fancied? No matter that you were two different households?

I’ve been putting off writing this post as I thought it might make me sad. Gloomy that those days are gone and I cannot for the life of me see when they will be back again. But actually, remembering this lovely day at Mark Brisenden’s place has made me very happy indeed. This COVID madness has to end sometime right?

I will probably never eat a meal in my flat again once I am properly released, I am going to be like a feral child, running around eating ALL THE FOOD in ALL THE PLACES.

Mark is a lovely friend that I have met through blogging. I think that he probably found me via my posts about my #1 food hero Vincent Price. I do have a tendency to bang on about what a brilliant food writer he was, and it is true, I sometimes do fall asleep with a copy of The Treasury of Great Recipes beside me in bed.

In 2016 Mark invited me to come and talk about Vincent on his Halloween themed radio show, it was an absolute hoot and we’ve been friends ever since. Naturally, I wore my Halloween cardigan which features Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester as Frankenstein’s monster and his bride.

Here’s a link to the show if you fancy a listen. It was so much fun.

Museum of Soho Radio Show – me talking to Mark about Vincent Price

Since then, Mark and I have had a long email correspondence about the recipe for the legendary Chasen’s Chili. Chasen’s was a Hollywood eaterie favoured by movie stars and the chili there was a signature dish. If Liz Taylor loved it, I knew that I would too… She wrote to Dave Chasen from location shooting in Rome in 1962 as follows,

“The chili is so good.  All gone now.  Please send me ten quarts of your wonderful chili in dry ice to 448 Via Appia Pignatelli. – Love and kisses, Elizabeth Taylor.”


The Chasen’s recipe featured in my Cooking With Columbo book

because there is a fabulous episode where the Lieutenant actually goes to Chasen’s (although it’s not really referred to in the show, my eagle eye spotted the signs when he arrived at the restaurant).

Like Columbo, both Mark and myself are big fans of chili (or chilli with two ls to us Brits). My favourite recipe is James Garner’s but Mark is loyal to the Chasen’s version. So when Mark suggested he have me and Mr R over for a bowl of each, I jumped at the chance!

I made the James Garner and Mark made the Chasen’s. It was so lovely to see Mark’s place, it was chock-a-block with wonderful film memorabilia

and it was great to perch at his cocktail cabinet being served cocktail after cocktail! We drank many fabulous tipples and talked for hours and hours and hours with Mark and his friend Mike about movies, TV shows and other nonsense. It was a glorious day and I cannot wait to be able to do this again.

Who won the chilli contest? We all agreed that both chillis had their own merits, they were both yummy.

Also seriously good was Mark’s way of pimping up potatoes. This was a riff on the Robert Quarry Garlic Potatoes recipe. Now I’ve been reminded of how good those were, I’m putting them on the to-cook-again list.

Plus some cheesy garlic bread which I am dreaming of having again right now

and one of my all-time favourite movie star dishes, Vincent Price’s Creamed Corn.

Thank you, Mark, for a wonderful memorable lunch at your place. I have decided to make a list of all the people I want to have round to my place once we are allowed, and you are gonna be the first person on it!

There are many versions of the Chasen’s Chili recipe around the internet, I am going to double-check with Mark that this is the version he uses. He is most DEFINITELY the expert! In fact, he got in touch today with another little Chasen’s related tidbit.

Ahead of making another batch of Chasen’s I googled Gebhardt’s chili again and found this.

“It would seem that the original brand is now discontinued and McCormicks or Mexene are deemed acceptable replacements in the US, I think also it’s why Sainsbury’s MIld Chili powder seems to work so well as it does seem made to a very similar recipe. I’ve found a 1/3 cup works well if you want to keep it milder or 1/2 if not . Somehow I don’t think I’m ever going to stop researching this though !”

Never, ever stop Mark! You are KING OF CHASEN’S CHILI!

Chasen’s Chili

1/2 pound dried pinto beans

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cups onions, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup butter

2 pounds beef chuck, coarsely chopped

1 pound pork shoulder, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup Gebhardt’s chili powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons Farmer Brothers ground cumin

  1. Rinse the beans, picking out debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.
  2. Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour or until tender.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Simmer five minutes. In a large skillet saute bell pepper in oil for five minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Add mixture to bean mixture. Using the same skillet, melt the butter and saute beef and pork chuck until browned. Drain. Add to bean mixture along with the chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Uncover and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn’t be too thick – it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Skim off excess fat and serve.

Makes 10 cups, or six main dish servings.

and here’s James Garner’s.

James Garner’s Oklahoma Chili

3 lbs ground chuck / beef mince

2 medium onions, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

2 hot, yellow chili peppers, chopped

2 cans(16 oz each) whole tomatoes, chopped

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/4 lb margarine

1 teaspoon liquid hot pepper sauce

Brown meat lightly in a skillet and transfer to a large pot.

Saute onions and peppers in skillet and add them to meat.

Saute tomatoes and add them to meat mixture. Add remaining

ingredients; blend well. Simmer 3 hours in covered pot,

stirring often.

If you make both of these for a taste comparison, let me know your verdict!

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