The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: A Review

Brandy Alexander

The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: A Review

Food & Drink

The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: A Review


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Have you see the Mad Men series?”

“What do you mean, have I seen it? I lived it!”

That’s the response from many advertising professionals who “grew up” in the business, after starting back in its glory days of the 1960s. In those days, they were the wet-behind-the-ears copywriters and backroom designers; now they are the CEOs of agencies who have learned to both reflect the times, and change with the times.

Now, there is a cookbook for them—and for all of the Mad Men fans who are eagerly awaiting the start of Season five (which will happen in March 2012). The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men, by veteran cookbook author Judy Gelman and writer Peter Zheutlin, is now available. And, it’s a quite intimate, up close, and realistic look at the era and its food.

No one can say that the food of the 60s was necessarily sophisticated—after all, we’re talking Potato Salad, and Spaghetti and Meatballs with Marinara. But it cannot be beat for elegance. The Beef Wellington. The Rumaki. The Blini and Caviar, and the Oyster’s Rockefeller, all staples of the worldly and high rolling crowd who frequented Madison Avenue.

The authors have gathered and tested the best, working with restaurants to recreate menu items from their past, using old back-of-the box recipes, and even lifting a few from Julia Child.  There are more than 70 recipes, all fun and—if you were a child of the 60s—all capable of conjuring up memories you thought long repressed!

But, for a Mad Men fan, the highlight of the book is the commentary in between the recipes, often with photos (like the one of John and Jacqueline Kennedy, showcasing the Avocado and Crabmeat Mimosa that was served in the Kennedy White House). There are behind-the-scenes stories from restaurants and hotels such as P.J. Clarke’s, Sardi’s, and the Waldorf-Astoria. All in all, the book is a fascinating mix of history and culture, as reflected in the food and people of the era.

The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook includes a full color 16-page insert with photos of the food from the recipes inside, plus additional black and white photos, food-related advertising material, and other images from the 1960s. Many of the recipes are from the bars and restaurants that appear on the show, including Sardi’s, Barbetta, The Pierre Hotel, P.J. Clarke’s, Keens Steakhouse, the Grand Central Oyster Bar and many others. Every cocktail and dish in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook has a connection to a specific Mad Men episode.

See the full series of our Mad Men reviews and sample recipes:

Editor’s Commentary

Heart’s of Palm Salad


Brandy Alexander

Vodka Gimlet




More TFC