The quality control stretches beyond the kitchen, as Bloxsom-Carter lines up all staff members 30 minutes prior to every party, checking them from head to toe to ensure shoes are shined, hair is tied back, and earrings are out of sight. His perfectionism shines through to the organization of cupboards and refrigerators, which are inventoried nightly to assess the quality and freshness of ingredients ranging from the everyday to the exotic.
“It’s important that every guest that comes on the property walks away with a positive experience,” he says. The around-the-clock entertaining requires Bloxsom-Carter to log 14-hour days on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. When not busy orchestrating the full-scale kitchen operation, he dedicates his time to his passion for wine, which includes judging 10 high-end wine competitions each year, as well as dreaming up menus for the mansion’s next star-studded event or weekend evening buffet. “Hef has this really big sandbox, and he just lets all of us play in it,” is the way Bloxsom-Carter likes to put it.
Bloxsom-Carter’s recent menu creations include dishes such as thyme-basted duck breast with Banyuls vinegar-blueberry sauce, warmed Cambozola cheese tartlet, corn broth with squid ink pasta, and grilled lamb chop lollipops with pomegranate gastrique. Leftovers are plentiful, but not a single scrap goes to waste, as they wind up in the homemade feed for the countless animals living at the estate, including monkeys, birds, reptiles, and yes, even bunnies.
Hugh Hefner’s Lamb Chop Dinner
Lamb Chops:4 fresh french-cut lamb chops (from 3-pound rack; see note below)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Lamb Sauce:1 can Campbell’s beef broth
1/2 cup cold water
1 sprig fresh rosemary (4 inches long)
1 1/2 teaspoons Swiss Chalet Pro-Thick vegetable starch thickener (1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 teaspoon water can substitute)
Preparing the Lamb Chops:
- Trim lamb chops of all excess fat. Trim should include the bone to the eye of the chop. Season the chops with salt and ground white pepper. Place the olive oil on a plate; dip the chops in the olive oil. In a very hot, preheated sauté pan, sear the chops on both sides until they are dark brown. Three minutes per side. Cover pan and let chops sit on a low flame for an additional two minutes.
- The fourth chop is for the cook to eat and determine if it is tender and tasty. If it is acceptable, serve the remaining three to Mr. Hefner. If it is not tender or tasty, start the process again by cutting from another rack of lamb.
Preparing the Sauce:
- Combine the beef broth and water. Bring to a simmer. Whisk in the Pro-Thick and return to a simmer. Add the rosemary sprig and cook for only 20–30 seconds. Remove the rosemary sprig from the sauce. Keep the sauce warm.
Preparing the Baked Potato:
- Wash three 90-count size potatoes. Wrap in foil and bake in oven at 350° for 90 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and place in warmer until dinner is requested. Choose the best potato: Remove foil and place on plate.
Preparing the Peas:
- Open one can of Le Sueur Early Peas (15 ounces) and heat in skillet. Season lightly with a pinch of fine sea salt and 1 teaspoon of salted butter when heating. Serve about one-third of the peas in a side bowl when the dinner is served.
Preparing the Tomato:
- Cut from the center of a beefsteak tomato two slices of tomato 1/2 inch thick. Place the slices on a small side plate that has been lined with the top half of a washed leaf of romaine lettuce.
- Place the three lamb chops on a warm HMH [monogrammed] dinner plate. The bones should be pointing to the center of the plate. Spoon a little of the sauce over each chop and some to flow slightly onto the plate around each chop. Place the baked potato next to the chops with no sauce touching it. No butter is put into the potato. Real butter (not margarine or butter substitute) and salt should be served on the side. The peas and applesauce are placed in small bowls on the side.
- When Mr. Hefner calls for his dinner, everything should be ready before cooking the chops. When the chops are completed, a butler should serve the meal immediately.
- Order from the butcher: a french-cut prime lamb rack weighing about 3 pounds.
Recipe copyright ©1994 Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
The recipe in this story has not been tested in the Gourmet kitchens.
Kelly Senyei is an associate editor at Gourmet Live and author of Food Blogging for Dummies (Wiley, 2012).