Why is it that some celebrities decide to write cookbooks? Do they sit at home, enjoying their homemade meatballs, thinking that because they’re a talented actor or reality show star other people will enjoy their meatballs as well? Or do they simply have no trouble getting a cookbook deal because they have a famous name? Whatever the reason, plenty of celebrities have released cookbooks, and some of them really shouldn’t have.
There’s no denying that celebrity recipes can actually be pretty cool. Serving stuffing made using Marilyn Monroe’s recipe can be a real conversation piece at Thanksgiving, and making a batch of brownies from a recipe by Katharine Hepburn is a kick. Tell your Christmas guests that the eggnog they’re drinking was made with a recipe devised by none other than actor Robert Mitchum, and a little bit of his cool just might rub off on you. But tell them that the Velveeta-loaded cheese soup they’re eating comes from a recipe by former Republican congressman Ron Paul, and, well… not so much.
But you’d be amazed at the sheer number of celebrities that have released cookbooks over the years. Dom DeLuise came out with a few (further confusing those who already got him mixed up with New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme), as did Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (Dining with the Duchess). Even Frank Sinatra got in on the action. Famous mothers got book deals too: David Letterman’s mom Dorothy and Mandy Patinkin’s mother Doralee each published cookbooks. Then there are the ones that are completely out of left field, like Cooking with The Young and the Restless and the Chicago Cubs Cookbook, which single-handedly must have added at least 10 years to the curse.
It makes sense for some celebrities, like Gwyneth Paltrow, to publish cookbooks; she’s made somewhat of a second career for herself as a self-described guru on how to live and eat on her website Goop. But there are some people that you really don’t expect to be giving anyone cooking advice, let alone publishing an entire cookbook filled with personal recipes.
1. Al Roker
Weatherman Al Roker has actually published a handful of books, including a few murder mysteries and memoirs. But he’s also published two cookbooks, Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue and Al Roker’s Hassle-Free Holiday Cookbook. The barbecue book, published in 2002, contains 100 recipes and covers all the grilling basics, and the holiday book, published the following year, contains recipes ranging from “sweet potato poon” to crown pork roast with fruit stuffing. We’re particularly intrigued by his recipe for “Groundhog Day Weatherman’s Meal,” whatever that may be.
2. Boy George
Apparently none other than the Karma Chameleon himself, Boy George, is a fan of macrobiotic cuisine, so much so that in 2001 he published a cookbook with the help of his “macrobiotic mentor,” Dragana Brown, called Karma Cookbook: Great Tasting Dishes to Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul. “Among the delights are Creamy Carrot Soup, Sizzling Soba, Crunchy Filo Parcels, Watercress and Shiitake Salad, and Apricots with Vanilla Custard,” the description reads. Sadly, it’s out of print.
3. Dawn Wells
If the name Dawn Wells doesn’t ring a bell, her most famous character will: Mary Ann from "Gilligan’s Island." In 1993 the actress published "Mary Ann’s Gilligan’s Island Cookbook," full of tropical-inspired recipes that she developed over the years (including Castaway Casserole and Ginger’s Snaps) as well as ones contributed by fellow cast members and a smattering of memories and anecdotes. A must-have for anyone who’s way too obsessed with "Gilligan’s Island."
4. Kate Gosselin
This reality TV star has published several books in a continued attempt to cash in on having eight children, and in 2013 she even published a cookbook called Love Is in the Mix, which “shares the Gosselin family's favorite recipes for every day and entertaining, a very important ingredient when creating special family time,” whatever that means. Apparently those family favorites include items like pizza meatballs, something called K8 Salad, sausage bean bake, buffalo pretzels, and “edible dough for play.”
5. Kris Jenner
If you’d prefer to eat like a Kardashian instead of a Gosselin, then head over to In the Kitchen with Kris: A Kollection [sic] of Kardashian-Jenner Family Favorites, written by none other than “America’s favorite momager” herself and published in October 2014. It contains “nearly 70 favorite recipes that have become the centerpiece of Kardashian-Jenner family traditions” as well as tone-deaf gems like “My children all know how obsessed I am with table settings and I’ve received several sets of Hermès dishes from my daughters. Table settings. Napkins and napkin rings. Baccarat crystal glasses and vases. Candles and candle holders. I’m obsessed with it all.” Forty-six out of the 77 Amazon reviewers gave it one star.
6. Olivia Newton-John
In 2012, the Grease star published a cookbook called Livwise: Easy Recipes for a Healthy, Happy Life. “Assembled using Olivia's own experience in the kitchen and with the help of nutritionists, friends, and chefs from Gaia, her Australian health retreat and spa,” she’s compiled a collection of healthy recipes, from chickpea patties and carrot salad to trout with cauliflower puree. It’s been a while since we heard anything from Newton-John, and we certainly didn’t expect her to stage a comeback-via-cookbook.
Check out even more celebrity cookbook fails.
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