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To whet your appetite, here's just a small a taste of what you'll find in Todd's cookbook…
Todd's Version of Restaurant Food Favorites:
Applebee's Walnut Chicken Salad, p. 10
Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp, p. 49
California Pizza Kitchen California Club Pizza, p.70
Cheesecake Factory Thai Lettuce Wraps, p. 89
Chili's Cajun Ribeye, p. 105
IHOP Corncake Pancakes, p. 141
Joe's Crab Shack BBQ Crab, p. 153
Olive Garden Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo, p. 172
On The Border Mexican Mojito, p. 179
Outback Steakhouse Three Cheese Au Gratin Potatoes, p. 194
P.F. Chang's Dan Dan Noodles, p. 208
T.G.I.Friday's Fried Mac & Cheese, p. 228
Todd's Version of Convenience Food Favorites:
Chex Mix Bold Party Blend, p. 242
Chick-Fil-A Honey Roasted BBQ Sauce, p. 245
Duncan Hines Moist Yellow Cake Mix, p. 258
Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Coolatta, p. 260
Starbuck's Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, p. 324
Todd's Version of Low-fat Food Favorites:
Carl's Jr. Reduced Fat Bacon Swiss Crispy Chicken Sandwich, p. 343
Chevy's Fresh Salsa, p. 353
Chili's Reduced Fat Boneless Buffalo Wings, p. 359
Panda Express Reduced Fat Orange Flavored Chicken, p. 428
Wendy's Reduced Fat Spicy Chicken Fillet Sandwich, p. 465
About Todd Wilbur
In Orange County, California, in the late 1980s, Todd received a copy of the notorious Mrs. Fields cookie recipe chain letter that had been making rounds across the nation. Trying the recipe led to disappointment. This was certainly no "secret formula." The results tasted nothing like a delicious Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie!
"Fake! Phony!" Todd cried. Then, he wondered, "Just who are the goofballs passing this off as an authentic secret formula, and how is it that such a bad knockoff recipe becomes so crazy popular?"
Todd had an idea. Since he had way too much free time on his hands, he got to work on a recipe for a cookie that had the flavor, texture, and appearance of a real Mrs. Fields cookie. How hard could it be? Batch after batch, the replicas came closer to the real thing… until one day, it happened. The cookies came out chewy and delicious, with crispy edges and that strong vanilla aroma. Bingo! The first Top Secret Recipe was born.
"So," Todd thought, "what’s next?" This time he would target a brand-name food even more popular than a Mrs. Fields cookie. An item sold in the billions around the world would do just fine. A trip to McDonald's for a sack full of Big Macs, and the next Top Secret mission was well under way.
Over the next five years, Todd's collection of recipes grew. He baked, he cooked, and he dissected. He learned the ins and outs of cooking from reading the most famous cookbooks and watching hours and hours of cooking shows on TV. He talked to chefs and cooks, waiters and food manufacturers. When he was at the counter of a fast food restaurant, he craned his neck to watch what was going on behind the scenes. He even feigned allergies to get ingredients lists from sympathetic wait staff. What at one time was just a strange little hobby grown out of curiosity, boredom, and perhaps a few too many beers had now become a passion.
While creating his first book, Todd had a full-time job to pay the bills. In fact, Todd had several jobs over those years as he slowly built his compilation of replica recipes. He worked as an advertising copywriter and as a commodities broker. He was a security guard. He was a commercial real estate salesman, and sold nothing. He landed a job as a TV news reporter and anchor at an NBC-affiliate station in Yuma, Arizona. Then, he worked at another station in Allentown, Pennsylvania as a bureau reporter. But all these “careers” were short-lived. Up to this point Todd had never been able to hold onto a job for more than a year. Things were about to change.
By this time, Todd's collection of recipes had grown to more than 40. They included replica recipes for Orange Julius ® , KFC ® Fried Chicken, Reese's® Peanut Butter Cups, Sara Lee® Cheesecake, Wendy's® Chili, Hostess® Twinkie®, Snickers® Candy Bar, Taco Bell® Enchirito®, and dozens more famous American favorites. Todd fell back on his earlier training as an artist to create schematic drawings of many of the products that fit perfectly with the book’s top-secret theme. Finally, it was complete.
In late 1991, Todd made a dangerous decision. He quit his TV reporting job and spent all his time preparing dozens of manuscripts. He put together about thirty copies of the completed book and blindly sent them off to publishing houses across the country. While he waited for any response to those unsolicited manuscripts, he made ends meet as a part-time videographer, shooting paramedics and fireman at work in Philadelphia for the national reality show "Emergency On-Scene Response".
Soon, just as the bank account was running dry, the good news came: five publishers made offers to publish the book. One of them was Plume, an imprint of Penguin, USA--and one of the largest publishers in the world. Todd didn’t know much about the publishing business at the time, but figured a publishing house with Stephen King as an author probably knows its stuff. Todd accepted the offer from Plume, and the book went into production.
In the summer of 1993, Top Secret Recipes® hit the shelves and soon went onto the bestseller list. This surprising success led to appearances on several popular TV and radio shows. By this time stacks of fan mail were coming in with requests for more recipes to replicate! Todd went back to work on his follow-up, More Top Secret Recipes®, which came out a year-and-a-half later.
In 1996, as Todd was waiting for his third and most ambitious volume to be released, Top Secret Restaurant Recipes, he decided to take a crack at designing a Web site for what was at the time an emerging medium. He figured it might be a good way to offer support for the books, along with additional recipes plus other features that can't be found anywhere else. He wasn’t sure the site would get much of an audience--but hey, it would be fun to build. Right after the site went live in November, the hits were coming at such a fast pace that a string of host computers were overloaded. After outgrowing location after location, the site finally found a home on its own dedicated server that could handle the explosion of traffic.
"Designing a Web site is kinda like making a Big Mac," says Todd. "You gotta stack things on in just the right order and use just enough special sauce."
Today the 43-year old cookbook author replicates food in his secret laboratory in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are eight Top Secret Recipes® trade paperbacks in print, with four million sold.
Information provided by TopSecretRecipes.com.