Eating Well: Hollywood - #108

BURT WOLF: Hollywood -- where dreams become reality and reality is bigger than life, even when it comes to food. Ed McMahon will show us how he lost fifty pounds and kept it off. Lindsay Wagner reveals her recipe for good health. Marla Gibbs demonstrates her favorite chicken dish. And super chef Wolfgang Puck prepares the pizza that made him famous. Join me Burt Wolf, Eating Well in Hollywood.

Hollywood was a pot of gold for developer Harvey Wilcox, a Kansas prohibitionist who in 1883 purchased a hundred and twenty acres on the site that was destined to become the motion picture capital of the world. Basking in the sun all year long, with an unending variety of landscapes, Hollywood was a perfect backdrop for movie making. Filmmakers from New York and Chicago quickly headed West to this Southern California paradise, turning Hollywood into the glittering land of magic, make-believe and movie stars.

MAE WEST: Don't forget come up and see me some time.

BURT WOLF: These legends of glamour and greatness transformed Hollywood into a fantasy factory that exaggerated life and became the stuff that dreams and movies are made of. 

The first movie makers to come here to Hollywood came from back east; they came from New York and Chicago. They were looking for a place where they could create, where they were free to turn their dreams into reality. They turned Hollywood into a company town and the theme was always creativity. How do you take your dream and make it into a reality? A reality that is bigger than life. And that approach to film carried over into their approach to food. You can see exactly what I mean by taking a look at the history of pizza. 

Something like pizza is found in almost every country that borders on the Mediterranean Sea. I've seen evidence of pizza recipes that go back over two thousand years to the Ancient Romans. Pizza came from Naples to New York City during the early years of this century and then moved on to Chicago where it got a top crust. Best I can figure out is it needed a coat to go with that Chicago weather.

And just like the early movie makers, pizza headed west, and when it got to Tinsletown, like everybody else in Hollywood, it needed an agent. Somebody to make it rich and famous, powerful, beautiful, sought after, a celebrity. Who was this star maker for pizza? Who was the Goldwyn of goat cheese, the Zanuck of zest, I give you the very beautiful, the very talented, the very wonderful, Wolfgang Puck.

California Dreamin' cuisine became a reality when Wolfgang Puck opened his spectacular Spago restaurant in 1982. Sitting pretty on top of the Sunset Strip, this star-studded bistro quickly became the home of Hollywood's rich and famished.

WOLFGANG PUCK: I think they feel comfortable here, the food is very comfortable and we know them really well, so when I know when Kirk Douglas comes for dinner for example, I tell him listen, tonight our special is a paillard of veal with some potatoes and he said, God, this is great, whenever I come in here, I know exactly, I get something I want to eat.

BURT WOLF: You are undoubtedly the director who turned pizza into a Hollywood star. Why did you do that, and how did you do that?

WOLFGANG PUCK: Well I always loved pizza, but I knew if you put good ingredients on it, it's going to taste good. So we started out, and we said, we're going to make our own sausage, so we're not going to make pepperoni, so we made duck sausage. So instead of having like ... some cheap fish or whatever we have ... Santa Barbara shrimps, or Louisiana shrimps and it tastes really good, instead of regular cheese, we use goat cheese, which at that time, ten years ago you know almost nobody really knew that in America we would have a goat cheese. We use fresh basil and fresh thyme and sun-dried tomatoes and a lot of the things which nobody ever used on a pizza in here in America. And then one of our favorites today is the one where we just cook the dough and then put smoked salmon and caviar on it.

BURT WOLF: That pizza sounds great, lets make one.

A pizza dough is formed into a disc.

WOLFGANG PUCK: Okay, so you stretch it nicely with your hands, or you get a roller and roll it out. And if you have the good dough it's really easy.

BURT WOLF: Let me have a try at that, Wolfgang, but this is not my strong point.


BURT WOLF: Oh you having fun yet? I'm not going to be good at this. This is like a lady in Norway who was taking ... teaching me to make flat bread.

WOLFGANG PUCK: Well that's the same thing see.

BURT WOLF: Poor woman almost died from laughter. (LAUGHS)

Onto the pizza paddle: a little olive oil so the dough doesn't dry out. Some slices of onion and into the pizza oven. It's a classic ancient wood- burning oven and it does a great job. While the pizza's cooking, Wolfgang cuts a few slices of smoked salmon from the side of a Norwegian salmon that he smoked himself. When the pizza's ready it comes out of the oven onto a serving plate, a little sour cream gets spread on. A few slices of the smoked salmon and a handful of caviar in the center.

WOLFGANG PUCK: This is for Zsa Zsa Gabor, she said hold the pizza, keep the caviar.

BURT WOLF: A few sprigs of dill are added.

WOLFGANG PUCK: It ain't the pepperoni pizza anymore.

BURT WOLF: You said it. A fabulous way to get an overview of what the stars are eating is to get a Heli-LA helicopter and look down into the kitchens of Hollywood.

MAN: 0046 Weather, clear, visibility 15, altimeter two niner, niner five.

BURT WOLF: Here's Aaron Spelling's new house, it's like three French chateaus joined together. Mr. Spelling produced Dynasty; food was pretty rich at the Carringtons though, I hope his cholesterol is okay. Hi, Mr. Spelling! Liza Minelli's place, I always loved people who sing for their supper.

Oh there's the pond where they built "Jaws." Interesting you know, you have to remember that fish is one of the best sources of low fat protein. A lot of people are concerned about how to cook a fish. That's really quite simple, there's something called the Canadian fish cookery rule. You measure the fish at its thickest point and for every inch of thickness you cook the fish for ten minutes. Really simple, it doesn't make any difference what kind of fish it is or how you're going to cook it. Ten minutes for every inch of thickness. Now "Jaws" would probably be ... about three months of cooking.

Here's the home of my friend Ed McMahon. Let’s drop in. Ah... bad choice of words, lets just land.

ED MCMAHON: Heeeeere's Burt Wolf.

MAN: Ladies and Gentlemen the host of "Star Search" Ed McMaaaahon...

BURT WOLF: Ed McMahon is a man for all seasons. As one of America's most recognizable faces, he's taken the job of announcer and made it the starring role. He's become more familiar to most Americans than their own nextdoor neighbor. 

ED MCMAHON: Television is like a microscope; if you're phony, it'll show, and I think if people just believe me, I think playing the second banana helps, because I'm not the big star, I'm just the second banana, and I seem to be approachable, “hail fellow well met,” that's my kind of personality and I think people trust that. When I was ten years old I used to talk into a flashlight like it was a microphone and cue up records on my grandmother's Victrola, the old fashioned RCA Cobrahood Victrola with the little needles you had to put in. And some of your viewers will remember that. But I had my dog sitting there he was my audience, Valiant Prince and I would read Time Magazine aloud. I'd do all the commercials, I'd do the sports and the music and the theatre and the news. Anyway, I never thought all this would happen, I figured I'd always have a job in broadcasting somewhere but probably on the local level. I didn't think it would become national. Just luckily I ran into this skinny kid from Nebraska and things have worked out very well for us. 

BURT WOLF: Tell me about your first meeting with Johnny Carson.

ED MCMAHON: Well it was very uneventful because I went to his office, his office was in The Little Theatre on Broadway, 44th Street and that particular day they were putting up a new marquee on the Schubert Theatre across the street. And all of 44th Street was blocked off and they had two giant cranes lifting up this ... what was to become the new marquee system. In the old days it was all those little bulbs that advertised the play. Now it became that white piece of glass with the painting on it and it was Bells Are Ringing with Judy Holliday, I'll never forget and Johnny made a statement to me, he said “Broadway will never be the same, it'll all look like this.” And I said, “I agree.” He said, “where did you go to school,” I said Catholic University in Washington. He said, “what do you want to do in this business?” I said I want to be a star. He said “thanks for coming up Ed, it was nice meeting you.” I said “thank you Mr. Carson” and I left. And I got on the train and went back to Philadelphia and I said, well I blew that job, and about two weeks later the producer, now since gone, but Art Stark called me on the phone and he said, “Ed, when you start on Monday, we'd like you to wear suits. Johnny likes to wear sport clothes and we think it will be nice to have you in a suit next to Johnny because you'll be in sports clothes and it'll be a nice little look.” I said “what are you talking about?” He said, “oh, didn't they call you?”

BURT WOLF: You grew up in Lowell Massachusetts in your grandmother's house; what was the cooking like in that house?

ED MCMAHON: Every morning my grandmother woke up and started baking bread and baking pies and then a little loaf for Edward, she always made ... that's how my ... my diet problems started at that age. 'Cause in front of my plate would be a little loaf that you get in some fancy restaurants now, you know with the butter and the sharp knife, that would be waiting for Edward, and then a slice of blueberry pie, and that's how you started your day, early in the morning, you'd smell that bread. Every meal had to have potatoes because they had come over on the potato famine, both she and her husband, my grandfather both were immigrants to America because of the Irish potato famine, so because of that, to celebrate we had potatoes at every meal. Everybody was overweight in my family, I mean my father was overweight, my grandmother, my aunt, all my uncles were overweight. And I grew up in that kind of atmosphere and was always a big eater, I enjoyed food, I love all the good foods.

BURT WOLF: Food has always been an important part of your life. You used to sell a food slicer in Atlantic City, sell me one.

ED MCMAHON: “The Famous Morris Metric Slicer. Forget about the two dollars they were made to sell for, we're cutting the price in half to a dollar, look at this machine, it has an adjustable blade. It lowers so low, you can slice a tomato so thin you could read a newspaper through that. I know a lady in Bayonne, New Jersey had one tomato last her all summer long. These are good, I don't blame you madam, hold your hand up high.”

BURT WOLF: You've had a very dramatic change in the way you eat. 

ED MCMAHON: The diet has helped me a great deal and I did it very slowly, I did it on a very gradual basis. I worked it about a year a little more than a year and I lost totally fifty pounds. And I'm down at the weight I was when I played football in high school

BURT WOLF: And he'll certainly be able to stay at that football weight if he keeps up his exercise program and his low-fat meals. His favorite home dinner is a fish filet with almonds and steamed vegetables.

This dish starts with a proper introduction from Ed.

ED MCMAHON: Ladies and Gentlemen, here's Buuurt Wolf.

BURT WOLF: A little fresh pepper goes onto two small filets of fish. And the fish go into a 350 degree preheated oven for ten minutes. Meanwhile, a few carrots are sliced and steamed. We also steamed some asparagus tips. When the fish is ready, it comes out of the oven and a few slices of almond go on. The fish goes on the plate, the asparagus goes on and the dish is ready to serve.

Ed and I ate all the carrots while we were cooking, so they don't get served. This is a low-fat dish that's very easy to prepare. And surprisingly, it's quite filling.

Ed certainly had the right idea; he lost about fifty pounds, but he took about fifty weeks to do it. And that's very important, you don't want to try and lose more than a pound or two a week. Most of us spent a lot of time putting on that extra weight, we should give it a lot of time to come off. If you lose your weight fast, you usually put it right back on. His choice of a low-fat fish dish was good too. If you want to keep the weight off here, keep the fat out of there.

The more I cook along with the Hollywood stars, the more I become aware of their great love of fresh fruits and vegetables. Now part of that is due to the fact that California has a twelve month growing season, so they get great fruits and vegetables all year round. Part of it is due to the fact that they understand that fruits and vegetables in general have great nutrients. But some of it is due to the fact that they have learned that fruits and vegetables can be used to keep them looking marvelous. And let me tell you in Hollywood, nothing is more important than looking marvelous. They help care for their skin by increasing their intake of vitamin C, from citrus juices, tomatoes and strawberries. They help care for their hair by increasing their intake of iron, from peas, beans and green leafy vegetables. For many of the Hollywood stars, fruits and vegetables have become a way of life. They have learned that these are cosmetic calories.

A star who's knowledge of nutrients has given her the most beauty for the fewest calories is Lindsay Wagner.

Most people remember Lindsay Wagner for her Emmy award winning role as the “Bionic Woman.” Since that time Lindsay has established herself as one of Hollywood's brightest stars. Her unique ability and talent for playing a diversity of roles has established her as the most sought-after star in made-for-TV movies. But for Lindsay Wagner, her measuring stick for choosing the parts she plays is not the character, but the message.

LINDSAY WAGNER: I feel that if we spend our time putting blinders on about how we make a living, if we don't think about how it's going to affect someone else, I think we're hurting our soul in a way. So it isn't that I necessarily search out these heavy meaningful pieces, but what I find in the business for the most part, is that there is not much in between. There's either kind of mindless fluff, or there's heavy meaningful pieces. I don't feel right making a choice for money. I must make my choices both for money, for my family and the results that I feel it's going to have on where it's going ... to the families it's going to, to the people it's going to. I can't separate that.

BURT WOLF: How do you deal with the problem of being a vegetarian and being on the road as much as you are?

LINDSAY WAGNER: When I started, it was very easy because I was doing very little. I wasn't working a lot, and so I could just cook a lot. And then I got into the film industry and I started traveling, actually prior to that even with my modeling I was traveling from time to time. And I found it very difficult to eat on the road, but then when I got into the film industry, it got really bad because I was on the road for months at a time, instead of a week or two at a time, on a modeling job. And then as I learned to eat in ethnic restaurants which was taught to me by a friend, the different kinds of dishes and things to look for, when I went on the road, the first thing I would do was get a hold of the concierge and say well here now tell me where all the Greek, Chinese, Indian, Italian restaurants are (LAUGHS) ...

BURT WOLF: Lindsay's desire to create fun vegetarian dishes, led to her cookbook, the high road to health. Which she co-authored with her friend Arianne Spade. I especially like the flavor of page 199. Couscous and tomato eggplant sauce. Very easy with an excellent balance of nutrients.

An unpeeled eggplant is sliced and then cut into half-inch cubes. The seeds are removed from a green pepper and the pepper is cut into thin slices. The garlic cloves are chopped, next comes an onion. Whenever you're working with a round food, it's best to cut it in half before you start slicing, the flat surface will keep it from rolling around. The onion is then sliced and diced. When you cut through the walls of an onion an acid gas is release and that's what make your eyes tear. You can reduce that effect by putting the onion in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you cut it. And we like to do that, which worked out fine, because Lindsay kept wiping the tears from my eyes, which made them tears of joy.

Next a little oil goes in the pan, then the onions, the garlic, the peppers, a little chopped parsley, two cups of chopped tomatoes and a few of your favorite spices. Lindsay is using black pepper, paprika, oregano and basil. All that cooks together for about thirty minutes, then it's mashed down and served over couscous which is a fine grain semolina cereal. 

And now from one Hollywood beauty to another, let's head over to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. 

The elegant and stately Beverly Wilshire Hotel has been in the Hollywood spotlight since it first opened its doors in 1928. An architectural gem designed in the Italian Renaissance style, the builders imported rare marble from Italy to embellish the detail. The hotel's popularity with the Hollywood set has been legendary. Warren Beatty occupied the hotel's penthouse suite for over ten years. And the dining experience at the Beverly Wilshire is worthy of an Academy Award. Here's their recipe for California crab cakes.

A crab cake mixture is made from a pound of fresh lump crab meat, chopped bell peppers, minced garlic and corn kernels. That's formed into cakes with the aid of this homemade mold. It's a paddle with holes cut out. Some bread crumbs go into the form, the crab cake mixture, a few more bread crumbs then just lift the form and you've got the cakes. They're sauteed in a little vegetable oil, until they have a crusty crust on both sides.

There are over four thousand different species of crab and they are all edible. They range from a tiny pea crab to a thirty pound Tasmanian giant. There are more species of crab available in the United States than anywhere else in the world which is probably why crab is our second favorite crustacean. The only one we eat more of is shrimp.

A half cup of Louisiana style creole sauce, goes into a soup bowl and the crab cakes get served right on top. 

As Florence Johnston, the hot-stuff housekeeper on the television hit series, The Jeffersons, Marla Gibbs portrayed a woman who was full of the spice of life. 

MARLA GIBBS: I mean she would be like this is not Florence's meal, food is not Florence's meal, Florence wants some ... some greens and some cornbread and ...

BURT WOLF: Let me hear Florence order ... order dinner.

MARLA GIBBS: Uh baby, gimme a little of those greens and bring the hot sauce baby, not the ... what is the other sauce ...

BURT WOLF: Ketchup ...

MARLA GIBBS: No, no the other hot sauce that everybody ...

BURT WOLF: Tabasco ...

MARLA GIBBS: Tabasco ... not the tabasco baby, the hot sauce there is a difference. You want hot sauce on your catfish, you want hot sauce on your fried chicken and you want hot sauce on your greens. With a little cornbread on the side, baby, you're talking about some eating there.

BURT WOLF: Off screen she's the owner of Marla's Memory Lane Supper Club where she oversees everything including the recipes.

MARLA GIBBS: I think food is very sensual, and it's very emotional and there are feelings that you get from foods.

BURT WOLF: Tell me about a food that you loved from your childhood.

MARLA GIBBS: Well, the cooking was in my grandmother's house and ... I didn't like it... (LAUGHS) contrary to what most other people, 'cause my grandmother was into beans. I mean she was into beans, you understand?

BURT WOLF: Yeah, yeah.

MARLA GIBBS: We'd have navy beans, we'd have pinto beans, we'd have red beans which would then become chili. We'd have butter beans, they loved beans. And I was a child with a very sensitive stomach and gas ... I was being rushed to the hospital for a heart trouble, for appendicitis and it was gas. (LAUGHS)

So I would walk in and look at the pot and look at my daddy and he would give me money to go down and get a hamburger. (LAUGHS) 'Cause I could not handle it. They cooked everything like ... they didn't like anything that looked like it might remotely be attached to life, so therefore I never knew why people raved over steak. Because they cooked it until it did not move, it did not do anything, and then they'd put gravy over it, which was great for people who liked that, but I ... steak didn't mean anything to me and liver ... liver was also cooked that way, so liver was punishment. She did do things like lobster salad which you were allowed to taste ... she did that for herself. (LAUGHS)

BURT WOLF: What a contrast!

MARLA GIBBS: Which I got a taste of every now and the, oh God, but that was it, it was it baby.

BURT WOLF: Marla's a great lover of stir- fried dishes with lots of fresh vegetables. This is a real team effort. George, who's Marla's chef at the club does her stirring, Marla adds the ingredients and I do the talking. And in the true Hollywood tradition we screen tested for each of our parts. Check out Marla's test.



BURT WOLF: Okay Marla, I'll do the talking. The wok is heated, a little olive oil goes in, a little margarine. Sliced onion, chopped garlic, sliced carrots, sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts. Snow peas, celery, red cabbage, great color, broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper, sprouts and sesame seeds. Hey, it's like a garden in a pot. And it gets served on brown rice.

Most Hollywood stars take their information about food quite seriously. And one of the best sources of real fact on food is the American Dietetic Association, the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Doctor Gail Frank, an ADA member, serves up some healthful and helpful information on good- looking calories.

DR. GAIL FRANK: A real important rule is to take stock in what you do plan on eating, if there are some favorites that you have, you can plan them in, but maybe not every day. You know, don't be a glutton about it. And then build around that to make as complete, as much variety, moderation and balance, three key words that are most important when planning your daily food intake. What you should try to really watch is the total number of calories you're putting in. If there's anything that's going to change your appearance, it's going to happen when you start putting in more calories or any food energy in your body then you're expending.

BURT WOLF: What's a good general rule for deciding how many calories I should eat each day?

DR. GAIL FRANK: Ten calories per pound of body weight is ... has been a rule. If you are physically active, you may want to take it to twelve and fourteen.

BURT WOLF: What about vitamins for the skin?

DR. GAIL FRANK: You have to start from within. And here's where nutrition really steps up and says, there are vitamins, vitamin C, B vitamins of thiamin, niacin and riboflavin that we know are needed, not only for the integrity of the skin, such a simple thing as when you scratch your skin or tear it, there's many little aspects of reactions going forth. Vitamin C is needed for those reactions. 

BURT WOLF: The key point, though, in terms of what not to put into my diet, in terms of my appearance appears to be, no excessive amounts of anything. Or singling out any one food and having only it as a magic food, as a magic bullet, that's where some of the problems come. But it's really the ... the moderation is probably more of the key. Is to stick with a moderation and a variety. 

BURT WOLF: So let's recap what Hollywood has to teach us about good food and good health. First of all the film capital's prime interest is looking good, so body fat has to go. And there are techniques are really very straight- forward and simple. They eat a low fat diet, they eat a low calorie diet and they do a lot of exercise. And don't forget what Ed McMahon taught us: don't try and lose more than one or two pounds a week; otherwise it's going to come back. Fast off, is fast on. 

Each day take in ten calories for every pound you want to weigh. If you want to weight a hundred and fifty pounds, take in fifteen hundred calories a day. It's simple. To help protect your skin, Vitamin C from citrus juice. The B vitamins, called niacin, riboflavin and thiamin from whole grains and beans. Vitamin D from fortified low fat milk. Iron from low fat meat, green leafy vegetables and potatoes. Drink lots of water. Watch out for balance and moderation.

One more very important point: variety. The more different foods that you eat, the more likely it is that you will get all of the different nutrients that you need to keep you healthy. But I think the people out here in Los Angeles already know about variety. They appeared to have named their paper after it. 

Well that's Eating Well in Hollywood; please join us next time as we go around the world looking for something that's good to eat, that's good for you. I'm Burt Wolf.