At the request of Cynthia, here is the recpe for Chili – Somewhat Chasen’s, as it appeared in Fern Storer’s cookbook. But, read on:


Fern Storer, in her cookbook “Recipes Remembered/ a Collection of Modernized Nostalgia” writes the following under the heading “CHILI – SOMEWHAT CHASEN’s”

“When a Los Angeles friend sent me a newspaper clipping in 1974 giving vaguely the ingredients in the famous Chasen’s chili I made my own interpretation. Obviously other food writers* have made the same attempt – versions of the recipe now appear in numerous cookbooks. This one is not the authentic Chasen’s chili – that’s a well guarded secret—but it’s one we find especially good.

½ pound onions (about 3 medium)
2 large green peppers
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
2 TBSP bacon fat or oil
1½ lbs ground lean beef (see Note1)
½ lb ground pork (see Note 1)
2 (14½ oz) cans tomatoes, preferably Italian style in tomato puree (see Note 2)
2 cups water (rinse cans)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 TBSP chili powder (more, if desired)
1 tsp powdered cumin (comino)
2 TBSP packed brown sugar
½ tsp hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco sauce) (or ¼ tsp hot pepper flakes)
2 (1 lb each) cans pinto beans (plain—not chili seasoned)
Use a 3½ qt stainless Dutch oven or other heavy cooking pot*, conventional range (*I use a cast iron Dutch oven—sls)

Note 1 I sometimes buy the 2 lb package of ground beef and pork sold for meatloaf—use any desired proportion of pork and beef.

Note 2 Or use a 29 oz can of Italian style tomatoes and a 6-oz can of tomato paste.

Chop onions, dice green peppers and mince garlic. Heat the fat in cooking pot on medium heat, add the onions and green peppers and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften slightly—5 to 7 minutes. Scrape a place clean on pot bottom and add the garlic, cook 30 seconds and mix into the vegetables. Add the beef and pork, breaking it apart with a fork. Cook on medium-high heat stirring frequently, until no longer pink—about 10 minutes. While meat is cooking open the tomato and bean cans and set aside. In a glass measuring cup, mix together the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and brown sugar.

Add the tomatoes, water, mixed seasonings and hot pepper sauce or flakes to the meat mixture, stirring thoroughly. Bring to boiling, then reduce heat so mixture simmers gently; cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes. Add the pinto beans and their liquid and simmer 30 to 45 minutes longer, stirring occasionally with a straight-end stirrer or wooden paddle. Taste in last part of cooking and add more seasoning, if desired. Liquid should have a creamy consistency.

Note: I have written this recipe with less chili powder than is characteristic of many chili recipes. To add more, near end of cooking, stir a teaspoon or two of chili powder into a quarter cup of hot water and stir it into the simmering chili” – From Fern Storer’s RECIPES REMEMBERED

If you Google “Chasen’s Chili” you will get something like 14,000 hits and numerous recipes.

Robby Cress wrote the following in “Dear Old Hollywood” which I found on Google. The recipe appears to be the same one featured in The Los Angeles Times Cookbook.

Cress writes “From opening in 1936 until closing in 1995, Chasen’s was a Hollywood institution. The restaurant, which used to be located at the corner of Doheny Drive and Beverly Boulevard at the edge of Beverly Hills, hosted the greatest stars ever to appear on screen.

James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Ralph Bellamy, Frank Morgan and the rest of their “Boys Club” would gather every Wednesday at Chasen’s during the forties to eat, drink, sing, and catch up after their busy days working at the studios. In 1939, after Clark Gable and Carol Lombard introduced the newly arrived director from England, Alfred Hitchcock, to Chasen’s, the director and his wife would have their Thursday night dinners at the restaurant. The Jimmy Stewarts, Don Ameche (who introduced owner Dave Chasen to his wife Maude), George Burns and Gracie Allen, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemmon, Billy Wilder, David Niven, Fred MacMurray, Joan Crawford – well, nearly every major star from the Golden Age of Hollywood dined at Chasen’s.

One of Chasen’s signature dishes was their chili. Elizabeth Taylor loved the chili so much that in 1962, while in Rome on location filming for Cleopatra, she paid $100 to have the chili shipped to her on dry ice! I love chili and knew I had to try the Chasen’s chili if it really is that good. Although the restaurant has been long closed, the book “Chasen’s: Where Hollywood Dined – Recipes and Memories” by Betty Goodwin, contains the recipe for this famous chili.

With winter here I could think of nothing better to cook up than a hot bowl of chili, so I took a try at making this Hollywood classic. Here is the recipe and the results from my cooking:

Chasen’s Chili

Prepping the Ingredients

1/2 pound dried pinto beans
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup butter
2 pounds beef chuck, coarsely chopped
1 pound pork shoulder, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Gebhardt’s chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Farmer Brothers ground cumin

1. Rinse the beans, picking out debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.

2. Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour or until tender.

3. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Simmer five minutes. In a large skillet saute bell pepper in oil for five minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Add mixture to bean mixture. Using the same skillet, melt the butter and saute beef and pork chuck until browned. Drain. Add to bean mixture along with the chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.

4. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Uncover and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn’t be too thick – it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Skim off excess fat and serve.
Makes 10 cups, or six main dish servings.

Cress recommends “For more of Chasen’s recipes I recommend picking up a copy of Goodwin’s book* In addition to the recipes are some intimate photographs of the stars who dined at Chasen’s as well as some fun anecdotes about the restaurant…”

*Sandy’s cooknote: Chasen’s Restaurant closed years ago but you may want to look for Betty Goodwin’s book “Chasen’s: Where Hollywood Dined – Recipes and Memories” I never ate there but I have friends who used to go there.

*Sandy’s Cooknote: Betty Goodwin is also the author of “HOLLYWOOD DU JOUR; LOST RECIPES OF LEGENDARY HOLLYWOOD HAUNTS” – which I have. However, Chasen’s Chili is not featured in this book, published in 1993 – it’s a fun read, anyway. The original Cobb Salad and grapefruit cake, both well known features of the Brown Derby Restaurant, are featured in this cookbook.

I found Chasen’s Chili also featured in “the L.A. GOURMET/FAVORITE RECIPES FROM FAMOUS LOS ANGELES RESTAUANTS” by Jeanne Voltz and Burks Hamner, published in 1971.

*Sandy’s cooknote—“The Los Angeles Times California Cookbook, (published in 1981 by Harry N. Abrams), one of my favorite recipe books in my California collection, offers a recipe similarly titled, “Chasing Chili” in which the authors note “For years we’ve been after the recipe for the real Chasen’s chili made famous by the Beverly Hills restaurant’s celebrated clientele. We finally caught up with one version that is allegedly authentic, but no one at Chasen’s will admit that it’s their recipe. Hence the name.

I collected S.O.S. columns from the L.A. Times for decades but stopped when the newspaper revamped their food pages to the point where I no longer recognized it or wanted whatever was being featured. But here is the Chasing Chili featured in the L.A. Times:

DEAR SOS: Please print the recipe for Chasen’s chili again. I bought your new cookbook, “Dear SOS,” but it wasn’t in the book.

DEAR JOYCE: Unfortunately, the chili recipe was one of hundreds that landed on the cutting room floor because of the book’s space restrictions. We call the dish “Chasing” chili because we have never been able to convince Chasen’s proprietor to share the recipe.

The recipe is from a reader who clipped it, she said, from a publication crediting the source as a friend who knew a waiter who knew a chef, etc. At best, it’s a facsimile (a good one, we hope).
See if you agree.


1/2 pound dry pinto beans
5 cups chopped tomatoes
1 pound green peppers, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 pounds onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck
1 pound lean ground pork
1/3 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds

In bowl soak beans in water to cover overnight. Drain. Cover with cold water and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour.
Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes longer. Sauté green peppers in hot oil until tender. Add onions and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic and parsley.

In another skillet, melt butter and add beef and pork. Cook, stirring, 15 minutes, or until crumbly and brown. Add meat to onion mixture and stir in chili powder. Cook 10 minutes. Add meat mixture to beans along with salt, pepper and cumin seeds.
Simmer, covered, 1 hour. Remove cover and simmer 30 minutes longer. Skim fat from top. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

I hope you find your missing cookbooks, Cynthia. I know what it’s like to lose some treasured cookbooks–been there and done that! Sandy


2 responses to “CHILI – SOMEWHAT CHASEN’S

  1. I certainly remember Fern Storer from her Cincinnati newspaper columns and have her cookbook. Nice post.
    Lillian @

  2. Of course you would remember Fern Storer too, Lillian! I used to beg my parents to save her columns and send them to me. Way before the internet came along! Thanks for writing. – Sandy

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