Sep 24, 2014

Author of Top Secret Recipes and professional "recipe hacker", Todd Wilbur has made a career out of figuring out the highly-guarded ingredients in popular fast food and restaurant recipes. Todd's tricks for securing information include feigned allergies to get ingredient lists from sympathetic wait staff and sneaking behind the scenes in restaurants to get a taste of the action. His first cookbook, Top Secret Recipes, hit the shelves and soon became a bestseller. He has gone on to write ten more cookbooks and is currently working on his eleventh.

Don't miss Todd at the Birmingham Home + Remodeling Show, September 26-28, at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, where he'll be sharing some of his biggest and most popular dishes with audience members. But before you see if Todd really can copy some of the most famous dishes in America, enjoy our brief interview with him below.

Marketplace Events (MPE): What was the one recipe that was hardest for you to hack? Is there one that took more attempts or time than the others?
  • Todd Wilbur (TW): "KFC Chicken because there are infinite ways to combine 11 herbs and spices. Also, the technique is one of KFC's best kept secrets. I have created three versions of that recipe over the years as I gather more information. I believe my most recent version is as close as anyone has ever gotten to duplicating the taste of the real thing."
MPE: What tips do you have for foodies to improve their palates? How can you get better at picking out ingredients by taste?
  • TW: "It's important to understand how things are made. You need to be able to identify a wide range of ingredients and flavors. I run through a mental checklist of ingredients as I taste foods to identify what is used. I also ask servers for information on what is in the dish, and I have developed several techniques and tools to dissect and analyze dishes."
MPE: What is the most requested/asked about recipes from your books?
  • TW: "KFC coleslaw. It is the number one search term that brings people to our website."
MPE: You've done so many books and recipes, are there any that are currently on your bucket list to figure out?
  • TW: "My top three are Butterfinger, Fig Newtons, and Bush's Baked Beans."
MPE: What are your favorite ingredients to cook with at home?
  • TW: "Butter and bacon."
Make sure to see Todd at the Birmingham Home + Remodeling Show on the Fresh Ideas Stage Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Grab your tickets online to get the best deals - right now you can get two for the price of one when you like our Facebook page. We can't wait to see you there!