Menifee Foodie: Try the King of the Cookbooks

By Malissa Meeks

Some people have a cookbook corner, or a cookbook shelf, or just a few cookbooks that fit in a drawer. Not me. I have a complete cabinet dedicated to one of my favorite things -- COOKBOOKS!!!!!

I love cookbooks. I read cookbooks the same way some people read a good novel. I love to get ideas, combine recipes and make the recipes my own by changing things up.

I have never been one to be content with a cooking rut. I love to have variety in our menu. I love to cook things that have a great presentation as well as great taste.

Several years ago, I came across one of my favorite cookbooks: "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes" by Todd Wilbur. He has several books out but I enjoy his trilogy, books 1, 2 and 3. With these books, you can recreate your favorite meals from P.F. Chang, Red Lobster, Buca di Beppo, Hard Rock CafĂ©, Applebee's, Tony Romas and the list goes on and on. I gave these cookbooks to my daughters as a gift and they use them often. In fact, it could have been the recipe for Chang’s Spicy Chicken that won over my son-in-law.

My personal favorite recipe is Buca de Beppo Chicken Limone. It is such a simple recipe and I love to make the sauce and serve it over a seafood medley or asparagus. It is delicious.

One of the things I like about these cookbooks is that Wilbur not only gives you the recipe, he also provides a blueprint which shows you how to make the recipe as well as a write-up explaining how he found the secret to reproducing the restaurant recipe. The secret to some of the recipes is not always in an ingredient but in the process of how you use the ingredients.

I suggest that you start with books 2 and 3. While book 1 has good recipes, books 2 and 3 have awesome recipes. You can purchase these on Amazon.

Every recipe I have made from these books has been a home run. Believe me, fellow foodies, these cookbooks will change the way you cook.

Pick one of these books up and begin to impress your family and friends with these amazing recipes. It’s time to put away the Sloppy Joe's and spaghetti and try some new recipes.

Malissa Meeks is a mother of seven who knows her way around the kitchen. By her estimate, she has prepared more than 42,000 meals over the years. She also knows what she likes in a good restaurant. Her column appears here each week. Leave comments here or email them to


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