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`MASH' CHEF IS STILL COOKING BY THE BOOK; ACTOR'S RECIPES INSPIRED BY CLASSIC SITCOM.

Byline: Mary Schubert Daily News Staff Writer

For nine seasons, Jeff Maxwell played a cook on ``MASH.'' With the publication of his first book, a collection of recipes inspired by the classic TV sitcom, life somewhat imitates art.

Maxwell will sign copies of his book, ``Secrets of the MASH Mess: The Lost Recipes of Private Igor,'' at 7 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd.

The 268-page book is filled not only with instructions on how to prepare ``Spam Lamb'' and ``Cream of Weenie Soup,'' but also with photos that Maxwell shot on the show's Malibu location and anecdotes from the Korean War-era comedy about a U.S. Army field hospital near the battlefield front lines.

The fictional premise upon which the book is set is that Maxwell has found several letters in an attic, correspondence from Private Igor to his mother about the war and life in the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital camp.

``Included in these letters are recipes that prove that Igor was a naturally gifted chef, but he was shackled by having to cook `the Army way.' He had to cook by the book,'' Maxwell said of his former character.

``The joke of the show was that Army food was so bad, and they were stuck in the middle of Korea. So food was kind of tough to get, and they relied a lot on powdered eggs and milk,'' Maxwell said. ``Igor would `cream' things - he would fix creamed turnips, creamed corn. He would cream everything, including weenies.''

``MASH'' aired from 1972 to 1983, and its final episode still ranks as one of the highest-rated programs of all time. Private Igor was a recurring character in the large ensemble cast.

Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, Klinger, Radar and the others heaped complaints about the chow on Private Igor, who was actually better trained as a mechanic, but the Army assigned him to the kitchen instead of the motor pool, Maxwell said. ``Poor Igor was just kind of stuck there, trying to make do with a job that he didn't really know how to do,'' the author said.

Maxwell, an Encino resident, said he decided to write the cookbook for very practical reasons. ``I just like to eat. It's a hobby,'' he said. ``Because I like to eat, I had to start cooking things I like.''

The 140 recipes in the book run the spectrum of eras and ingredients, from meatloaf and stew to pasta and fish. ``It's a potpourri of delicious styles,'' Maxwell said. ``It's not a low-fat kind of cookbook, but there's nothing in it that's overly caloric. And the recipes are not complicated.''

He points to one recipe as his favorite. ``Everybody just kind of freaks out over the Drunken Crab Cakes. They're spectacular,'' he said.

Maxwell credits his wife, Sherie, and restaurateur Frankie Carlisle, owner of Frankie's in Tarzana, as collaborators in the project.

``It's a double-threat book - it's for anybody who loves to cook and loves to eat, and it's for anybody who was a `MASH' fan,'' he said.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 12, 1997
Words:508
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