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Mystery Chef CoofbookMystery Chef - Nickname of radio/TV chef John MacPherson who hosted the Philadelphia cooking program THE MYSTERY CHEF/NBC/1949. One of NBC's first daytime programs, the show ran on Tuesdays and Thursdays afternoons (later Wednesday) from March 1st through June 29th. MacPherson, a former chemical engineer, arrived in America from London in 1906. He started on radio in the 1930s when he took over a program for a friend and soon began to share his love of cooking with his listening audience. His "Mystery Chef" radio program ran from 1931-45.

The Mystery Chef's motto reads: "Always be an artist at the stove, not just someone who cooks."

His programs - which featured recipes for limited budget, limited equipment and limited know how - became very popular with thousands of people who requested copies of his no-fuss recipes.

The interest in his recipes inspired the 366 page book “The Mystery Chef’s Own Cook Book: Presenting Marvelous Meals at Lower Cost” published in 1934 by The Blakiston Company in Philadelphia.

Chapters included cooking terms, fundamental cooking information (with a wartime supplement section), plus cooking tips on eggs, biscuits/breads/muffins, cakes, waffles, fritters, appetizers, pies, pastry, all kinds of desserts, cakes, cookies, puddings, rarebits and cheese snacks, preparation for dinner parties, canning, and preserving,

TRIVIA NOTE: Other early TV cook shows included I LOVE TO EAT (1946-47) hosted by James Beard; IN THE KELVINATOR KITCHEN (1947-48) hosted by Alma Kitchell; TO THE QUEEN'S TASTE (1948-49) hosted by Chef Dionne Lucas; and THE VIDEO CHEF hosted by Jean Holt.

Mystery Chef Book

1936, Be An Artist at the Gas Range, Successful Recipes by 'the Mystery Chef'. Longmans, Green & Co.

Sample Recipe

The Mystery Chef's Swiss Steak

2 lbs (1 kg) round, flank, or sirloin steak (any less than premium cut will do, as long as it's about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) thick)
1 small can tomatoes
3 Tbs (45 ml) olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 (250 ml) cup water
1/2 cup (125 ml) flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Coat the steak with as much flour as will adhere. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat and brown the steak on both sides. Place the steak in a large ovenproof baking pan with a lid. (Some cooks prefer to wrap the steak and remaining ingredients in aluminum foil.) Add the cup of water to the skillet you browned the steak in and dissolve all the brown bits in the skillet. Add this liquid to the baking dish with the steak, along with the other ingredients. Cover and cook on top of the stove over low heat for 2 hours. Or bake in a 325F (160C) oven for 2 hours. Serves 4 to 6.

Mystery Chef Book

The soft cover book (8" x 5") to the left is a 102 page cook book from the Davis Baking Powder Company published in 1934 and titled "The Little Book of Excellent Recipes" by the Mystery Chef.

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