Inscribed by John McPherson, the Mystery Chef

Inscribed by John McPherson, the Mystery Chef

[McPherson, John (1877 – 1962)] The Mystery Chef’s Never Fail Cook Book. Garden City, New York: Perma Giants, 1949. First edition. Near fine in coated boards, sans dustwrapper as issued.

Inscribed by the author: “This book is the property of Mary Lou Martin. It is one of the very first copies of the first edition, to come off the press and it carries every kind wish from its author, Your friend, The Mystery Chef. Christmas, 1949.”

An uncommon cookbook by the host of one of the first cooking shows to be broadcast in the United States. The Mystery Chef premiered on NBC’s Boston affiliate WBZ in 1930. During the Great Depression, McPherson presented step-by-step instructions on preparing meals that were both delicious and economical. “Be an artist at the range, not just someone who cooks,” he advised, as he offered recipes that would allow a family of four to eat for a week for $1.48 – with meat five days a week and fish two. The program ran in several incarnations – including a television show in 1949 – until 1953. This introduction to this volume offers the following encouragement. “Remember this: You should never have a failure in cooking. If you followed a recipe and had a failure, then the fault was with the recipe you were using, and not with you. Unfortunately there are thousands of faulty recipes.”


John McPherson pictured in Radio Mirror, 1937 (Library of Congress)

Permabooks were a short-lived experiment in cheap publishing. An imprint of Doubleday & Company, they represented a sort of halfway measure between hardcovers and paperbacks. You should try to collect them all.

A very appealing copy.

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