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Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America's Favorite Restaurant Chains

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In 1996, Americans spent over $100 billion gobbling up meals at full-service American restaurant chains, inspiring Todd Wilbur to change his focus from cracking the recipes for convenience store foods to cloning the popular dishes served at these sit-down stand-bys. Wilbur's knock-offs, absolutely indiscernible from the originals, are selected from national and regional ch In 1996, Americans spent over $100 billion gobbling up meals at full-service American restaurant chains, inspiring Todd Wilbur to change his focus from cracking the recipes for convenience store foods to cloning the popular dishes served at these sit-down stand-bys. Wilbur's knock-offs, absolutely indiscernible from the originals, are selected from national and regional chains, many drawn from a list of the top ten full-service restaurant chains, including Houlihan's, Red Lobster, and Pizza Hut. Also included in this savory cookbook is a special section devoted to dishes from hot theme restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, and Dive! Recipes include: Applebee's Quesadillas; Denny's Moons Over My Hammy; Bennigan's Cookie Mountain Sundae; The Olive Garden Toscana Soup; The Cheesecake Factory Bruschetta; T.G.I.Friday's Nine-Layer Dip; Pizza Hut Original Stuffed Crust Pizza; Chi-Chi's Nachos Grande, and many more!


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In 1996, Americans spent over $100 billion gobbling up meals at full-service American restaurant chains, inspiring Todd Wilbur to change his focus from cracking the recipes for convenience store foods to cloning the popular dishes served at these sit-down stand-bys. Wilbur's knock-offs, absolutely indiscernible from the originals, are selected from national and regional ch In 1996, Americans spent over $100 billion gobbling up meals at full-service American restaurant chains, inspiring Todd Wilbur to change his focus from cracking the recipes for convenience store foods to cloning the popular dishes served at these sit-down stand-bys. Wilbur's knock-offs, absolutely indiscernible from the originals, are selected from national and regional chains, many drawn from a list of the top ten full-service restaurant chains, including Houlihan's, Red Lobster, and Pizza Hut. Also included in this savory cookbook is a special section devoted to dishes from hot theme restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, and Dive! Recipes include: Applebee's Quesadillas; Denny's Moons Over My Hammy; Bennigan's Cookie Mountain Sundae; The Olive Garden Toscana Soup; The Cheesecake Factory Bruschetta; T.G.I.Friday's Nine-Layer Dip; Pizza Hut Original Stuffed Crust Pizza; Chi-Chi's Nachos Grande, and many more!

30 review for Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America's Favorite Restaurant Chains

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I have made the two of the smoothies from the Hard Rock Cafe, the hot artichoke/spinach dip from the Olive Garden, the Pumpkin Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory - and more. The recipes are easy to make with common grocery store ingredients and taste fantastic! I love this recipe book and hope you will too! I would have given this recipe book 5 stars except that I believe to get 5 stars it should have included color photos of the recipes and included step by step color photos as well. May no I have made the two of the smoothies from the Hard Rock Cafe, the hot artichoke/spinach dip from the Olive Garden, the Pumpkin Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory - and more. The recipes are easy to make with common grocery store ingredients and taste fantastic! I love this recipe book and hope you will too! I would have given this recipe book 5 stars except that I believe to get 5 stars it should have included color photos of the recipes and included step by step color photos as well. May not be a fancy recipe book, but it is a good recipe book and that means more to me! Otherwise, I have enjoyed this recipe book very much. We even tried recipes for restaurants we have never been to (small town - lucky to have restaurants) only to find a great new recipe that we love! Would make a great gift for a new bride or house warming gift too!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    blurberoonies: Long before scientists in Scotland cloned Dolly the sheep, Todd Wilbur was hard at work replicating recipes from some of America's favorite restaurant chains. Armed with Ziploc bags for transporting leftovers and plenty of questions for his servers, Wilbur has combined the skills of a private eye and a research scientist to devise the tasty clones included in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes. blurberoonies: Long before scientists in Scotland cloned Dolly the sheep, Todd Wilbur was hard at work replicating recipes from some of America's favorite restaurant chains. Armed with Ziploc bags for transporting leftovers and plenty of questions for his servers, Wilbur has combined the skills of a private eye and a research scientist to devise the tasty clones included in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes.

  3. 4 out of 5

    manjit kaur

    Thanks for giving books

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alex Gregory

    Decent, if dated, cookbook that shows you how to "clone" popular items from chain restaurants and diners in the U.S. I had already been a big fan of Todd Wilbur for a while after seeing some of the Youtube videos where he showed audiences how to clone things like the Chili's Molten Lava Cake and Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars, so finding this in a thrift store was a good way to see what all the fuss was about back in the day. The book is okay, if very long-winded and prone to needless explanations Decent, if dated, cookbook that shows you how to "clone" popular items from chain restaurants and diners in the U.S. I had already been a big fan of Todd Wilbur for a while after seeing some of the Youtube videos where he showed audiences how to clone things like the Chili's Molten Lava Cake and Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars, so finding this in a thrift store was a good way to see what all the fuss was about back in the day. The book is okay, if very long-winded and prone to needless explanations. It starts out with a primer on restaurant culture throughout history, which could have been summarized in half the pages. Most of the entries are also straightforward, beginning with anecdotes about the company and their food. The anecdotes themselves are the biggest problem with the book. You can tell that Wilbur was struggling with information to fill the pages with, so he filled entries with useless trivia that isn't all that interesting or relevant to the dishes in question. It's cool that Stephen Spielberg invested in a restaurant chain called Dive! (a relic of the 90s?), but did I need to know about their aquariums? Or a whole paragraph on how many locations a restaurant chain has? The recipes themselves are pretty decent, and based on the few that I tried (namely, the Planet Hollywood Chicken Crunch and some of the Red Robin sandwiches), they turned out well. I think the biggest hurdle for anyone making these is that they tend to call for specific ingredients you may not always have, though Wilbur at least recognizes this and offers suggestions for substitutes whenever possible. Recipes veer wildly in quality (in terms of the process used to make them), with some recipes being laughably simple to needlessly complex. The recipes for Tony Roma's Ribs are essentially the regular, average process for cooking ribs in a smoker with no special preparations, while some of the salad recipes run up to 3-4 pages. Quality's all over the place, which is the other big failing. In the end, Top Secret Recipes is a decent primer for the world of fast food clones, but I have no doubt that there are better cookbooks that accomplish the same thing in a more interesting way. The dated nature of the book really brings it down.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Last night I finally made a recipe from this book. I made the Applebee's Chinese salad recipe. Lettuce, cabbage, carrot salad topped with sliced almonds, chow mein noodles, and I deep fried chicken pieces battered in glutten free flour and crushed corn flakes. The dressing had honey, rice wine vinegar, dijon, mayo and sesame oil. It was very good and easy. Looking forward to trying other recipes in this book. Last night I finally made a recipe from this book. I made the Applebee's Chinese salad recipe. Lettuce, cabbage, carrot salad topped with sliced almonds, chow mein noodles, and I deep fried chicken pieces battered in glutten free flour and crushed corn flakes. The dressing had honey, rice wine vinegar, dijon, mayo and sesame oil. It was very good and easy. Looking forward to trying other recipes in this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gayle Kee

    a lot of great recipes to try.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A fascinating snapshot of the brass & fern set of the late 90’s, and a must-have resource for future historians trying to recreate this portion of our culture. It also *almost* made me a little nostalgic for some of these places before they turned into, “no thanks, I can microwave my own dinner.” A lot of the information within has already gone well past its pull date, as the number of stores and annual sales really has no relevance almost 25 years later. The introductory section goes through th A fascinating snapshot of the brass & fern set of the late 90’s, and a must-have resource for future historians trying to recreate this portion of our culture. It also *almost* made me a little nostalgic for some of these places before they turned into, “no thanks, I can microwave my own dinner.” A lot of the information within has already gone well past its pull date, as the number of stores and annual sales really has no relevance almost 25 years later. The introductory section goes through the history of the restaurant. Unfortunately, it spends half the total word count on silly and banal fake anecdotes about Joe’s in Egypt and slaves in Greece before getting to actual meaningful content. The history of the restaurant in America was actually interesting, and it was also fascinating to see how we went off the rails with his prediction of a future glittering with theme restaurants. I don’t think he could have predicted the yelp-fueled drive to authenticity and fusion and small restaurants to combat the chain restaurant extruded onto every corner. I’m pretty certain that a number of these chains have gone under, and would be unsurprised if this pandemic sent a few more that way. So while spending a lot of time home during the 2020 lost year and cooking at home a lot, we decided it was time to review what cookbooks were on the shelves. It was time to see if there was something we wanted to make out of these books, or if they were unjustly taking up space and energy from better books. If we couldn’t see ourselves using the books, then we determined whether or not we would want to pass these along to someone who might. There are few recipes in this book that fascinate me enough to consider recreating them, and a number more that make me question their presence at all. No one goes to Hooters for their amazing fried chicken. Not one person wondered how they could make those at home. I think the author just wanted to justify all those expense receipts. But at least there’s a reason for a number of “research trips” to Hooters. I don’t know why we would want to make Applebee’s at home. In the end, I struggle to think of who this book is perfect for, other than a historian.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emily S.

    I’ve read the recipes...now on to trying them!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

    Enjoyed many of the recipes in this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Randall

    The historical information on how a lot of fast food restaurants started was very interesting. Author Todd Wilbur wrote a bunch more books on this topic and has a website and Facebook page now.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emerald

    Loved it, I had a blast creating some of the recipes out of this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    May

    While I liked the illustrations how some of these restaurants shaped various items for their recipes, I felt the overlook look and feel of this cookbook to be very dull. It could have used some colorful photos to make it look like the book was worth picking up. I also wished the book could have included nutritional details about each of the featured meals as opposed to saying that this meal serves 2-6.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Helena

    This book is fun to have in the house. There are some really good recipes in here that you have tried before at restaurants. The best ones I have tried so far are: Panda's Mandarin and Orange flavored chicken, Olive Garden's Alfredo sauce, and Mimi's cafe carrot raisin bread. Some recipes are not quite like the restaurant, but most come very close. This book is fun to have in the house. There are some really good recipes in here that you have tried before at restaurants. The best ones I have tried so far are: Panda's Mandarin and Orange flavored chicken, Olive Garden's Alfredo sauce, and Mimi's cafe carrot raisin bread. Some recipes are not quite like the restaurant, but most come very close.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Horizon

    I have made so many awesome recipes from this book and they actually do taste just like the original restaurant favorites that it is definitely well worth your money to pick this one up! One of my favorites that I make over and over for entertaining is the bruschetta from the Cheesecake Factory. Try it!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book is not perfect. Some recipes look complicated, I wish there were some OTHER ones, I've never heard of some of the restaurants. But they have Chili's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake. Enough said. This book is not perfect. Some recipes look complicated, I wish there were some OTHER ones, I've never heard of some of the restaurants. But they have Chili's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake. Enough said.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    This is my all-time favorite cookbook! There are so many fun recipes in here. Our favorites are Marie Calendar's chicken pop pie and the cornbread recipe, Shoney's pot roast, Chili's grilled Carribean salad, and the fajitas. There are so many others--I won't go on; it's making me hungry. This is my all-time favorite cookbook! There are so many fun recipes in here. Our favorites are Marie Calendar's chicken pop pie and the cornbread recipe, Shoney's pot roast, Chili's grilled Carribean salad, and the fajitas. There are so many others--I won't go on; it's making me hungry.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I've been cooking with this book since I was in college. Great recipes, completely authentic to what you would find in a restaurant. Although not all of the recipes are my type of food, I still believe there's something for everyone and you won't be disappointed! I've been cooking with this book since I was in college. Great recipes, completely authentic to what you would find in a restaurant. Although not all of the recipes are my type of food, I still believe there's something for everyone and you won't be disappointed!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Welsh

    This is a fun book. I didn't have much luck with with the Olive Garden stuff, but the O'Charley's potato soup was right on! This is a fun book. I didn't have much luck with with the Olive Garden stuff, but the O'Charley's potato soup was right on!

  19. 5 out of 5

    ♡ Sassy ~ Amy ♡

    Hmmm. You can try all you want to make some of these recipes, but most of what I have tried ZDO NOT taste like the original version. ESPECIALLY - KFC Cole slaw. Oh well.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mckinley

    I was interested in seeing what goes into chain restaurant foods. There are couple of recipes I am interested in trying. A lot of rich food ingredients. Not a cookbook to use daily.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Bought it out of interest to see how to make disgusting food, wasn't disappointed! Bought it out of interest to see how to make disgusting food, wasn't disappointed!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Yvonna

    Great recipes!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abraham Ray

    excelect copycat cookbook!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Recipes look good just wish the proof reader done their job. Will update after completing the book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Kamashian

    really good

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carly Johnson

    Great recipes from well-known restaurants. Illustrations show how to put things together. Though, no photos of complete dishes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    Fun book that my sister recommended to me long ago.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lenna

    I didn't find as many recipes in this one as opposed to the sequel of this book, although it's still pretty good. I just wish there were pictures. I didn't find as many recipes in this one as opposed to the sequel of this book, although it's still pretty good. I just wish there were pictures.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jason Miller

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bob

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