Oct 20, 2014

If you think getting recipes from your mother-in-law is hard, imagine trying to suss out the ingredients that go into America’s most popular restaurant and fast food dishes. Fortunately you don’t have to plead with waiters or snoop through trash bins – Todd Wilbur has you covered. The author of Top Secret Recipes as well as several other cook books has spent over a decade uncovering what goes into the world’s most popular dishes. Join Todd at the Orlando Home Show to learn how to make your favorite restaurant dishes at home. Todd will teach you the secrets behind the Big Mac, how Mrs. Fields gets her chocolate chip cookies so moist, and more. But before you taste test Todd’s food, enjoy our interview with him below and get to know this recipe hacker.


Marketplace Events (MPE): What tips do you have for foodies looking to improve their palates? How can you get better at picking out ingredients by taste?
  • Todd Wilbur (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 items do you always keep in your pockets?
  • TW: “Chap stick – I live in Las Vegas and it is always dry. And a dollar bill with a sharp edge for measuring food in a restaurant.”
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?
  • 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: Any embarrassing on-the-job moments you’d like to share?
  • TW: “On one of our shows we were cloning Dipping Dots. I needed liquid nitrogen [to make them] and told a doctor that I had warts and needed to do the application at home. The doctor made me drop my pants in the office and I was not wearing underwear that day and it was caught on camera.”
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’s your personal mantra?
  • TW: “Try to find the humor in everything.”
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: How were you discovered?
  • TW: “Wrote a book in 1993 called Top Secret Ingredients – it was more like a pamphlet. Printed 10,000 copies, and then I was asked to be on Live With Regis and Kathy Lee and could not keep the book stocked after the appearance, a USA Today article and more followed.”
MPE: What are your favorite ingredients to cook with at home?
  • TW: “Butter and bacon.”
The Orlando Home Show takes over the Orange County Convention Center from October 24-26, 2014. Todd Wilbur will be appearing on the Edible Orlando Cooking Stage on Friday and Saturday only, don’t miss him! Bring your appetite and a friend – right now you can get two tickets for the price of one when you like us on Facebook. What are you waiting for? We can’t wait to see you at the show.