Confessions of a Food Fraud: stirring the pot

  • A true story though many names have been changed to protect the innocent.


  • “So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.”

    Franz Kafka


    “Every man and every woman
    has a course, depending partly on
    the self, and partly on the
    environment, which is natural
    and necessary for each. Anyone
    who is forced from his own
    course, either through not
    understanding himself, or
    through external opposition,
    comes into conflict with the order
    of the universe, and suffers
    Aleister Crowley
    I ponder this excerpt frequently
    in quiet desperation while looking
    out the window of my
    Malibu beachfront property. It is an excerpt by Aleister Crowley’s ‘Magic; in theory and practice.’ I believe in magic. Or rather I should say, I believe that you can
    get anything you want. You begin with intention, and then ride that horse all the way to the Kentucky Derby. Things come together,
    people appear, and
    synchronicities collide,
    combustible energies form that reduce alchemical base metals into gold, water into wine.
    And so it was, on that fateful day, way back in the late 70’s, where anything went. My claim to fame was as a dancer on the Vegas
    strip. A rocketeer, and my legs did the talking. But where had it led me? I was living in a small 3 bedroom house, Beverly Hills
    adjacent, a single mother, with 3 daughters to support. And I was pushing 40.! I’m sure I could have snagged some poor schmuck that would foot the bill for my current socio-economic status. But why? Why not think big?!
    As I breezed through The
    Beverly Hills Courier- a flimsy
    little magazine delivered to our door, graciously elevating us to the 90210 stratosphere, my eyes began to fixate on a black and white blurb, a small photo of a man playing tennis at the very exclusive hillcrest country club.
    Hmmmm…this might be that
    horse…I was momentarily
    interrupted by a knock on the
    door, and hurtled back into
    reality with my landlord’s request for the rent. He was a sleazy slick haired Italian and seemed to insinuate there were other methods of payment. And he always showed up when the kids
    were at school. I led him on, just enough to stall a week. I shut the door and picked up the phone.
    “Hillcrest country club? Yes, I’d like to sign up for tennis
    lessons.” !My gorgeous rocketeer legs were just hitting their final stride
    before their long descent and
    they went out with a bang, in
    those tiny tennis skirts I
    purchased at Fila. It worked like a charm. I had Frank Nicklepants in the palm of my hand.
    After a few weeks of dating I
    pinpointed his weakness. A
    weakness I would exploit until that rock was on my finger. Sex? No. He was past that stage and Viagra hadn’t been invented yet.
    No, it was very simple. Caveman simple. It was food. Food, a direct link to a man’s heart and stomach. And I knew just the little lady who would provide the service. Her name was Patrice and
    she owned a catering company in the valley called Food for thought. Patrice was no ordinary chef. She was an artist of the highest echelon. Her brownies alone could make a grown man
    whimper if denied, and she had a thirst for Hermes, an insatiable appetite for Georgio’s and Theodore’s. I knew she would chomp at the bit…and chomp hard she did.

    It started with cookies. She charged $80 a batch, equivalent to $200 in today’s market. It was a small price to pay, and besides, now I had my own charge accounts, and cash, courtesy of Frank. Soon it escalated to breads-$90 for a loaf, Bastia, Tortes, mind blowing pies and cakes~ $1000 a pop. Frank would ask me to entertain small dinner parties and I willingly obliged, with the help of my very own Cyrano de Bergerac. The cash and jewels started rolling in~ a Cartier necklace for this party, a diamond bracelet for that party. We hosted a dinner party one night for Ted Kennedy and Frank introduced me as not just the chef but a true artist. Patrice had delivered the goods early that morning and no one was the wiser.

    But as the romance came to a boiling point, with marriage now looming on the hot plate, woven tightly in a thick web of lies, my mind began to unravel. It started with a close call. Patrice’s husband Henry, delivering food early one morning, tripped up the sprinkler system and broke the clicker for the garage. I had given explicit directions for Henry to stash the food in our 2nd freezer, knowing Frank could not possibly hear the garage door open from our upstairs bedroom. Frank ran outside and demanded to know what was going on, thinking Henry was a thief. Henry stood there in soaking wet clothes with sprinklers splashing his face, and piles of Tupperware at his feet. He explained that I had been “nice enough” to let his wife use the freezer in the garage because theirs had broken down in the middle of the night. That was a close call. Then I found out that a housekeeper had been stealing from me. I threatened to call the police and she said that if I called the police she would tell Mr. Nickelpants exactly who did the cooking in the house. So I let her stay, and continue to steal. The food kept coming, each dish more exciting and exotic than the last. Frank bought my daughter a house, and soon I was hearing those wedding bells.

    Things were finally coming to
    fruition. Everything I had set my mind on achieving. But there was a problem. I was slowly beginning to experience multiple personality disorder. My lies
    were catching up with me.
    Someone at a dinner party would ask me the recipe for something. I would become paralyzed, frozen, scared stiff. I would stutter that I didn’t recall and would send it to them the next day. And so began the memorization of every speck used in the cookies, cakes, the bread. I was an actress playing
    the role of a lifetime and these were my lines. If I could just keep it together until we were married, then I’d simply say “I don’t feel like cooking, let’s go out.” One day Frank came home and wondered why there weren’t any smells in the kitchen if I had
    been cooking all day. So I
    arranged for aromas to be
    delivered, and brought home all the cooking utensils I would need. Then he wondered why  there wasnt any trash. So I began to
    have trash delivered, the
    wrappers from ingredients Patrice had used. I was living a double life and started to believe it myself. I would tell Patrice how exhausted I was from cooking all day. And I believed it. The day finally came when Frank
    and I tied the knot, and I could stop the shenanigans. But at what cost? I would have to lie to Frank
    for the rest of my life, and now I had grown to love this man. I wanted our marriage to be pure and honest, but that was impossible now. It would be based on lies, and those lies have kept me fragmented, all thes
    years, split from myself, from my center.


       And now, as I look out, on the
       crashing waves hitting the  shore,
       I am in a wheelchair slowly
       rolling back to the sofa. I am
       imprisoned by my dark past and
       now physical limitations. I
       wonder if I really did get what I
      wanted, or was I misguided from
     the beginning? If I had truly
     listened to myself there would
     have been no room for lies or
     manipulation, and things might
     have ended differently. I’ve heard
     it said “The end depends upon
    the beginning” and maybe this
    wheel chair is my own self
    imposed punishment, the way I
   feel it should end. I ponder that
   quote again, from the beginning
  of this story….
“Anyone who is forced from his
own course, either through not
understanding himself, or
through external opposition,
comes into conflict with the order
of the universe, and suffers
Did I follow that North Star all
those years ago, or was I forced
from my true course, not
understanding myself, and
therefore, not really knowing
what life was truly about?
Thinking the prize was that brass
ring…I now understand it is only
really about love. About giving
unselfishly, from the deepest depths of the
heart. And actually, I basically just paid
Patrice to do the hard part for me…and Frank
was happy…which is the bottom
And so I would have to say, it did all work out, in the end.

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