A gangster murder mystery full of 1940s slang and other fun!
This is set in the 1940s in New York. Just as he was about to receive an award, Great Chef Alan Davies has been murdered. It’s a gastronomic investigation.
Reading level: 6
Versions and samples:
- Mini for 8-16 guests (same as the play version but with only one act, and with some reports) ($19.95):
- Standard for 8, 9 (4f5m), 10, 11 (6f5m), 12, 13 to 21 guests ($29.95):
- Meet and mingle for 17-30 guests ($39.95):
See the sections below for more details:
It’s 1948. Tonight we have gathered together at the Culinary Institute of America to honor the Institute’s Great Chef Alan Davies who is receiving the highest award in the culinary world – The Edmond World Class Culinary Award. Unfortunately we have just received news that he has been murdered this afternoon.
Helena Flan: “Alan turned nasty. He started being rude to me. He even had the audacity to call me a “tart” to my face. That really offended me. My surname may be “Flan”, but I’m not a tart (sniffing). I’m just lonely.”
What they’ve said
Culinary Institute of America, New York, USA
This mystery was written for the Culinary Institute.
From Patricea Lackner: “The evening was terrific. Everyone had a great time.”
From Joel Huddleston: “I recently attended a murder party … that you authored. I was both entertained and well fed.”
Amanda Milbourne, England
We had ‘rented’ an old Manor House in the English countryside. It was the perfect place to play a murder mystery – just spooky enough so that you didn’t want to stray too far from the group.
There were 13 family and friends staying. We decorated the dinning room with lots of candles, draping material and sprinkling lots of little gold stars around. I had made up little chefs hats for the place names and we had 1940’s music playing. Everyone wanted to make something for the meal; for starters we had prawn cocktail, marinated mushrooms and melon balls with raspberry coulis. For the main course we had Lasagne, Shepherds Pie, Chicken Malaya and Chili and for desert there was Lime & Mascapone Torte, Fruit Salad, Chocolate Torte and Chocolate & Orange Trifle. We lit all the candles and had a roaring fire blazing away so the room looked very magical.
We had a Miss Marple type Detective who went around with her magnifying glass and fingerprint dust and brush, our Mrs Sybil Sibeal was like a Sergeant Major, ordering us to form an orderly queue and not to get out of line and David Wurst (one of the Chefs) was often found in the kitchen checking on all the food. But the star of our murder mystery weekend had to be my Aunt Sylvia who played Cath Scarlet the Bag Lady. She really did look grimy and just a little bit scary, though fortunately she declined wearing her ‘Eau du Sewer’. Even so she really played her part to the fullest, she kept wiping her nose on her sleeve, slurping her wine and every so often you’d notice something missing and find she had put into her trolley full of her ‘worldly possessions’ and even the people sitting next to her started to feel itchy. She won the ‘Golden Gnome Award’. About three of us guessed who the murderer was and we all had such a fantastic time we are already planning our next weekend away.
Suzanne Dell, USA
“We had our “Murder of the Great Chef” party for 8 people this past weekend, and it was a GREAT SUCCESS!
I decided to add a little bit of a twist and suggested that we all ‘cross dressed’. So for most of the roles we had women playing the male characters and vice versa. It certainly added to the fun and the over-acting that went with it was just great!
George’s ‘beard’ was actually coffee granules!! Paula won the “best costume” prize. I think ‘her’ fabulous over-acting throughout the evening helped!
We played a Big Band Glenn Miller CD, and this music just fitted the era perfectly. I supplied each guest with a small notepad and pencil to make notes. After a lot of laughs and detective work someone correctly guessed who the murderer was.
Once again, it was a really great evening and fun was had by all who attended – we’re looking forward to planning our next Murder already! Thank you for a great evening!
Here are some of Suzanne’s “Murder Of The Great Chef” pictures:
Simon ‘Digger’ Dewar, Australia
“It was such a cool night and everyone (even the shy) had an absolute ball. By the end of the night everyone was really getting into their characters. Only one person guessed the killer and that was the killer themselves. We had prizes for best costume, best over actor, and of course who guessed the killer.
We’re planning on running the Celebrity Celebrations one real soon. Thanks again and hope to talk with you guys some more.
Simon ‘Digger’ Dewar”
MaryJane Horn, USA
Here is MaryJane’s photo of two of her guests at her “Murder Of The Great Chef” party:
Katie Pitman and Cath Scarlet (the bag lady)
MaryJane sent in this feedback about her “Murder Of The Great Chef ” party:
“I am attaching pictures of the cast of characters. I say cast of characters, because we did the script like an old-time radio show with an audience. They loved it!”
Angie Bridgewater, USA
Here is Angie’s group photo from her “Murder Of The Great Chef” party:
Angie sent in this feedback about her party:
We had our “Murder of the Great Chef Party” on Oct. 28th, 2006.
I would like to submit some pictures to the contest.
We had a blast!!
Thomas and Sherrice Payne, USA
Thomas & Sherrice sent in this feedback about their “Murder Of The Great Chef” party:
“Here are some pics from our party. It was our son, Raymond’s, 16th.
All the teens had a good time.
Thomas & Sherrice Payne”
Note: The reading levels of each kit (not just “page” as it says below) were determined by copying and pasting the kit (the meet and mingle version for 17 to 30), into The Readability Test Tool (see www.read-able.com).
Some of the people who are gathered have been invited, the others have forced their way in. They are:
Mary Homebud (long-term fiancée)
I grew up in Cedar Rapids in Iowa. I worked at weekends at one of my parent’s shoe shops. They own a chain of stores around America. I enrolled in secretarial school in New York. I promised my parents that I would still go to church and be a good girl. They didn’t want the big city to corrupt me so they arranged for me to stay at my aunts. I met Alan. He was very handsome and rather suave and he’d trained in France for 6 months. He adopted the chicness of the French and used to say, “Excuse moi garcon” when we were at a restaurant. When Alan asked me out, I was amazed. I felt like such a country girl compared to him. But he said he liked my naiveté – whatever that meant!!! Unfortunately, after we were engaged, he didn’t bother taking me to restaurants any more.
General Sid Davies (brother)
Alan and I were always fighting as boys. He was older than me. He used to steal my toast and squeeze my mashed potato through his fingers. And if I told on him, he would punch me later on. He was mother’s pretty little pet. He spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen. I suppose that’s where he got interested in cooking. One of his little rackets was stealing from our dad’s coin collection. He used the money he stole to advertise his little business selling the cakes he made. When we were teenagers, whenever I met a pretty girl, he would always tell her I had incurable cold sores – a total lie. Because of the money from his cake business, he’d buy girls flowers and malted milks, so they fell for him.
Paula Tortula (second fiancée)
I grew up in New York. I had a lot of brothers and sisters, so we didn’t have much money to go around. My mother was always singing to herself as she did the laundry. At nighttime, the whole family gathered around the piano and my brother played and we all sang along. When I was 8, my mother entered me in a singing competition and I won. I was so thrilled. My mother used the money I won to pay for me to have singing lessons. When I was 18, I won another competition and one of the big name music scouts came back stage and asked me if I’d like to sing in a jazz band. He said I’d be the next Billie Holiday. It was my dreams come true to be able to sing for a living.
Yves Larousse (French chef)
I grew up in Paris. My father was a distributor of foodstuffs. As an only child, I spent a lot of time with my mother. She loved to cook. I knew I’d be a brilliant chef because I made honeycomb at the age of 4. By the age of 10, I was making soufflés and other extravagant dishes. I invented my own recipes like Spatch-cock and Spinach Swirl and Camembert Cream Croissants. I wrote them all down in a special book. I knew I wanted to be a chef, so I mastered the skills even before I went to culinary school. Even though I loved Paris, I knew I’d have to go overseas to obtain real fame and fortune.
Helena Flan (Institute administrator)
My parents moved all over the US, because my father was a traveling salesman. My dad was always selling the latest fad – here, there and everywhere. You know things like hula hoops, yo-yos and pogo sticks. I always liked to keep myself trim and fit (I still do) so I spent a lot of time with my dad’s exercise equipment. My dad was a classic salesman visiting every town. Mom didn’t seem to mind him being away a lot. My parents are very happy together. I think I inherited my Dad’s cheeky smile. Someday I want to settle down, but I’m only young and I haven’t met my honey bun yet.
David Wurst (apprentice chef)
I was born in Germany, but my parents immigrated to America. They run a deli and I loved working there, because I love food. I used to experiment with all the left-over scraps of food. You know – the bits of meats, slices of liverwurst and bits of cheeses. I’d cook them up into some pretty strange combinations like liverwurst and cabbage pie and frankfurt and cheese flan. But with practice, my combinations got better and better. I worked very hard at school and my grades were good enough for me to receive a Culinary Institute of America scholarship. During my 1st year at the Institute, I did very well. I topped the class in fact. During my 3rd year, the Great Chef died and Alan Davies became the new Great Chef. For me, that was a real turn for the wurst.
Cath Scarlet (bag lady)
My mother was a dancer at a nightclub over on the East Side of New York. We were poor. When I was growing up, mom used to let me play dress-ups and put on her make-up. When I turned 16, mom was getting a bit old and she’d done her back doing the Can-Can. So she had no choice but to send me to work as a dancer. I was always toppling over in my stilettos at first like a newborn giraffe, but I got used to them. During the war I got lots of tips entertaining the troops. But it didn’t last. Just like my mother, I did my back but this time doing the jitterbug. Then a few bad things happened and I ended up as a bag lady.
Joe – Slasher – Tessarario (gangster)
I grew up in Detroit. My dad was always in and out of the clink. He didn’t know how to arrange things properly. My mom wanted me to be a good Catholic boy. I loved my mom, so I just didn’t tell her my plans for raising capital. The real money, I discovered, you could make from investing your money – loaning it to people. If they used the money to make more money, we both got rich. Sure I charged a lot of interest, why do you think they call us loan-sharks, but I lent to people the banks considered risky. If they couldn’t repay, you told them you’d stand them in something sticky and heavy and I’m not talking about toffee. Generally they wised up. Soon I had a strong network of people who owed me favors. My troops.
Katie Pitman (Chef’s secretary)
I grew up in Washington DC. My father was an accountant. As the eldest girl of a family of 7, I had a lot of responsibility in the family. At school, I was good at my studies and I was the school captain. I don’t smoke but I admit I chew too much gum. At secretarial school, I topped my class. I was able to type a hundred words a minute. I still can. My ancestors invented shorthand. Maybe that’s why I was so good at it. I met my wonderful husband William when I was 22. He went to the war and joined the ground troops in Germany. Fortunately he survived. He is an engineer. After the war, his work took him to New York, so we moved here. I love it here because I can buy the smart-type of clothes that you just can’t get in DC.
George Creuset (pot-washer)
I was an only child. My mother died having me. My father raised me with his sister’s help. We were as poor as caged hamsters, but my dad still knew how to have a good time. He could really make his mouth-organ sing. I think dad’s attitude to life has rubbed off on me. I’m always whistling while I wash my pots. And I love singing. I wish I could sing like Paula. I’ve been washing pots at the Institute for 5 years. I didn’t go to the war because I have flat feet. I don’t want to be a pot-washer forever. I’ve got plans. Big plans. I dabble in electronics and I’ve invented a machine which will wash pots. I call it Creuset’s Cleaning Contraption – well that’s the working title – it’s actually a ‘dishwasher’ without arms or legs. I haven’t married yet. I want to wait until I stopped being a pot-washer and have launched my invention.
Mrs Dulcie Gobbler (patron of the Institute)
I grew up in Boston. My parents were extremely wealthy. I was sent to finishing school in Paris. While I was in Paris, I met Arnold. He was there studying to be a chef. We fell madly in love – oh how I remember those nights under the Eiffel Tower. Of course my parents were horrified to hear I’d fallen for a chef. But Arnold and I were very determined. We eloped at the end of our studies. For a long time, my parents refused to meet Arnold, but after our first child Jimmy was born, they were dying to see their grandchild. I told them they could only see him if they came to our house and met Arnold. After my parents met Arnold, they could see why I’d married him. He was such a dignified man and so caring about other people. Now I am a patron of the Institute.
Fred Cleaver (butcher)
I was born in New York. I’d always loved all those gory war stories and the sight of blood had never worried me, so I decided to be a butcher. Meat has always been my favorite food – feed the boy beef and make a butcher of him I suppose. Vegetables are a waste of time except for French-Fries. They go well with steak. After my apprenticeship I worked in a few butcher shops then I went and did my time at the war, WW1 that is. I was in the navy. When I got back from the war an old bachelor uncle of mine died and left me some money, so I set up my own shop. My shop was near the Institute and pretty soon I had them as a customer. My prices are competitive and my parsley and pork sausages are the best in town. I met Bessie after I’d got the shop. She’s a great wife and our kids are good kids.