Chef Andy Murray Shares Family Secrets And His Brother Bill's Favorite Dish - Exclusive Interview

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

If there's one thing chef Andy Murray holds sacred above all else, it's the family table: the place where dinner is served (after Mom sits down), conversations turn to laughs, and the best memories are made. That's certainly true of the Murray family, which is made up of nine brothers and sisters, including the well-known, award-winning actor, Bill Murray.

Now, chef Murray is sharing his collection of memorable family recipes in his new cookbook, "Eat, Drink and Be Murray: A Feast of Family Fun and Favorites." The book is essentially a family album, complete with photos and anecdotes from the entire Murray family, along with the nostalgic and comforting recipes that have filled their table over the years — from their mom's famous fried chicken, to their dad's favorite pork roast and Bill's favorite easy dinner pasta. Chef Murray also includes some star-studded stories and recipes from his days working the New York restaurant scene. 

It's warm and inviting from start to finish, and as you whip up any one of the recipes, you'll feel like you're taking a seat in the Murray's dining room. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, chef Murray talked all things family and food, with a few fascinating tales along the way. He discussed the inspiration behind his new cookbook, and shared some of his most meaningful and delicious recipes from over the years.

Andy Murray says a psychic inspired him to finally write a cookbook

This cookbook is such a beautiful homage to your whole family. What inspired you to write this now?

I hadn't really thought about writing a book. I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's house in Charleston, about three years ago, and this really attractive woman came in and was watching me cook in the kitchen. She wasn't cutting up anything, she wasn't asking to help, she wasn't cleaning a dish. It was this girl, Karen Duffy, who was the VJ on MTV a while back. At the end of the meal, she goes, "That was the most beautiful turkey I ever saw. You ought to write a cookbook." I'm looking at her and going, "Maybe she just likes fat guys or something." I said, "It's too crazy now. Let's talk after the new year."

Right after that, the pandemic happened, and this got put off. A friend of mine, for a Christmas present, [gifted] me a psychic reading. This woman told me I was going to write a cookbook. I called Karen Duffy back. I said, "Do you think that agent still might be interested?" She said, "Yeah." I started working on it then.

You learned to cook from your mother. How did she inspire your passion for food?

It started with bacon. I like to eat. My mom figured I could make bacon, and I figured if I could make bacon, I could always get extra bacon if I cooked it, because the other brothers and sisters, they'd have to wait until it was done. That's what started it. I tried different things, and then when I was 12, I started working in a restaurant washing dishes. At the time, when you walked in the door, they said, "What do you want for breakfast?" That was a thrill right there ... I fell in love with the restaurant business and cooking.

Coming from a family of nine children cooking in large quantities has always been a must for you. What is your best advice for making that more manageable, so it can be fun rather than a chore?

It's all about the prep. It's all about getting all your stuff in order and lined up so you're not burning things on the stove while you're making something else. If you set it up right, it all falls into place.

Andy Murray shares his most meaningful food memories

This book is full of so many memories and stories that your whole family pitched in on from growing up, but what is your favorite food memory?

It was the first time I ate caviar – actually, both times: ... The first time I had bad caviar and the first time I had great caviar. The first time I had bad caviar, it was when the Pump Room was in Chicago, and I was 21 years old and I had met a friend there for drinks. I remember Bobby Douglas, who was a quarterback for the Chicago Bears, was a partner in the Pump Room at the time. They had this happy hour bar spread and on it was caviar, and I had never had it. I said, "Wow, let's try this." I was like Tom Hanks in "Big." I went, "Ehh, this is awful."

When I was working at Mortimer's, that was a real [high] society crowd. It was Jackie Onassis, and it was Brooke Aster, it was the King of Spain, it was Princess Margaret. It was all these people, and they only ate really good food. The owner of the restaurant had to deal with the caviar place in New York, and he used to get a bargain on it. The rich, that's how they keep their money, because they knew a bargain. 

We would serve that on a pretty regular basis for parties. Whatever was left over, the kitchen [would eat] ... all of a sudden, I was putting [caviar] on potatoes, and suddenly going, "Oh my God, this is great." I started eating it with my fingers. You get that Osetra Caviar and it's a whole different animal.

All of the recipes, as you said, in this book are meaningful to you and your family in one way or another. Is there any particular recipe in the book that brings back a fond family memory?

They're a lot of family memories. They're all together ... we sat around the dinner table five nights out of the week. All of us, all 11 people in the family.

The pork roast was a big deal because that was my father's favorite meal. My mom made it, and it was a once a month thing that we did. My dad was a serious meat case. We didn't eat fish in our house. We were from the Midwest, and growing up, we really didn't have access to great fish. It was all pretty much frozen at that time. When my mother did cook it, you smelled it for two to three days. My dad would stand at the end of the table and he would carve, and he would [serve] each plate for each person and pass it down. Nobody touched a thing until my mother sat down. The pork roast is my favorite thing to eat in [the book] and it's really good.

Andy Murray recalls cooking fish for Frank Sinatra

This book features a lot of memories from your career as a restaurant chef as well, and you've cooked for a lot of people. Do you have a favorite memory of cooking for a famous person?

We cooked when Frank Sinatra came, and he was so cool. I'd always been [a fan] — I'm a singer, I was in a boy's choir growing up. I sang for the Pope when I was a kid and went to Rome, was in a boys ensemble in high school, and had a little band for a while. When he came in, everybody in the place was dumbstruck. He was very cool.

He was with Red Buttons, [who] was doing a dinner for a dozen people after one of Sinatra's shows at Madison Square Garden. He wanted a rack of lamb. Our rack of lamb was beautiful, and it was wonderful. It was a huge hit for most people.

All of a sudden, Barbara Sinatra, his wife, comes to the door of the kitchen, and goes, "My husband and I don't eat lamb. Can you make something else?" We said, "Dover sole?" [She answered,] "That would be great." We made him this Dover sole. He came back after the dinner and he said, "Who made the sole?" I pointed to the fish guy down at the end, John Marsh. He comes over, gives him a $100 bill. Then he starts giving out $50's to everybody else in the kitchen. When he left, the whole kitchen had run around the side to the front of the restaurant to cheer him as he left.

What was on this Dover sole?

Lemon butter and parsley.

That's all it takes?

That's all it took. Dover sole is one of those fish that you can eat every day.

Andy says he isn't the only chef in the Murray family (but he doesn't mean Bill)

Does anyone else in your family love to cook as much as you?

My sister Peggy is a serious cook. She really can cook. She's got a couple recipes in [the book]. Her chili is wonderful. The first time I'd had it, we had gone up to Martha's Vineyard and we had rented out the Danny Aykroyd summer house for two weeks. We had 24 people there. My sister Peggy made this chili. It was a cold rainy day, which happens sometimes up in Martha's Vineyard, and I was like, "This is the best chili I've ever had." It still is.

What is the secret here? What makes it so good?

She claims it's this: It's got to be beef bullion. It's true. She's one of those people who says don't screw with the recipe, and you don't. There's canned beef bullion, there's canned beef broth. She said it's got to be a canned beef bullion. I've tried it with the beef broth and she's right. I don't know what the difference is, and seriously, what Campbell's does, but it does make a difference.

If it's not broken, don't fix it.

That's exactly the way she says it.

Is Bill a good cook? Does he have a specialty?

Is he a good cook? I don't think so. He makes a pretty mean egg. He likes his eggs. That's about the extent of his cooking. It really is.

He's a big fan of your cooking. Does he have a favorite recipe in the book?

There's not a whole lot I have put in front of him that he hasn't liked. There's one pasta dish I did one night and he brought some friends over. I made pasta with blistered tomatoes and burrata cheese. That was really good. He said, "This calls for a pretty good wine." He pulled out a Chateauneuf-du-Pape that he had been saving for a special occasion, and it was wonderful. It was a great mix.

Chef Andy shares more recipe secrets from the Murray family kitchen

You mention in the book that one of the first cooking lessons you got from your mother was to never leave bacon because it will burn. Do you have any other hard and fast rules that can't be broken in the kitchen?

That's the great thing about cooking. There are all sorts of hard and fast rules about baking that you can't do, but cooking, you can play around with a lot of things in cooking. Not baking, though.

As long as you don't walk away from the bacon.

It's really about, don't walk away from the stove when you've got something cooking, because you always end up burning something.

Another one of the recipes in this book that we can't wait to try is Lucille's Fried Chicken. What were the most important tips that your mom taught you for making good fried chicken?

Do it slow. Do it over a low medium heat. Don't do too high a heat, because you're going to spend half the time cleaning up.

When my mom made chicken, she made a lot of it because there were so many of us. She would be standing over there, and she'd be talking, and talking, and slowly turning it. Her chicken ... it's like the story when John Belushi came to the house one night that she had made chicken ... and he ate a whole chicken by himself, easy.

I read that she would fry it in Crisco. Do you still use Crisco to fry up chicken?

Sure. Crisco works. If you go into a restaurant, the vegetable oil or whatever they've got in their deep fryers, it's pretty similar.

Another recipe that you speak very highly of in this book is your Key Lime Pie recipe. What makes yours so good, and how can we do that for ourselves at home?

The difference in our Key Lime Pie, and it is really just one, is the rum butter that we put in between the crust and the custard. When it gets chilled, it hardens. It's [two to three] millimeters thick. It's got a crunch to it that adds to the pie crust. The butter and the sugar mix so well with the key lime custard, and that's why it's better than anybody's.

This rum butter, this is as simple as reducing down butter and rum and sugar?

That's it.

The Murray family's favorite snack is unlike any sandwich you've ever had

You also mention in the book that your go-to snack growing up was peanut butter and mayo sandwiches with lettuce. That sounds wild and I'm sure you've heard that before.

It's crazy. I've got friends who run out of the room when you bring a jar of mayonnaise out.

As a trained chef, can you explain how this is delicious?

Actually, I read somewhere recently that mayo is the new butter this year, and I was like, really? It was something we grew up with. My mom, with all these kids, and these boys — you're always hungry when you're a teenager or a kid, and you don't eat until dad's home and mom sits down. We're home from school at 3:00 and there's three hours before we're going to eat dinner. There was always loaves of bread and peanut butter and mayonnaise and lettuce in the house.

It's the combination of the mayonnaise and the peanut butter, and it's got to be crunchy peanut butter. You add the crunch of the iceberg lettuce. It's a mix that works. I don't know why it works, but it's wonderful.

Do you still eat them today?

I still eat them today. If I'm making it and any one of my brothers walks in the room, they will stop and say, "Will you make me one of those?"

Do we need a particular bread here?

We grew up on pretty much Butternut Bread and anything that was soft. Roman Meal was the other one, because we were eating healthy, my mother decided. A soft bread works best.

Holiday meal traditions in the Murray family household

The holidays are approaching fast. Does your family have any particular food traditions or unexpected dishes that you guys always have on your holiday table?

We always have shrimp on Christmas Eve. It's not like we're Italian and we do the seven fishes — actually, one of my nephews married an Italian girl, and on Christmas Eve, when we go to their house, she does do the seven fishes thing. We've done some different things over the years.

For Thanksgiving, there's turkey in there, or there's ham, or I've done a prime rib, which is always a showstopper. Last year, my brother-in-law made a Waldorf salad and wrapped it in lettuce leaves, [like] a lettuce cup you get at a Chinese restaurant. It was fascinating. He was trying to do an evening where you didn't have to use a knife or a fork. Everything was by hand. The showstopper was this Waldorf salad wrapped in lettuce. I went, "This is genius. I'm going to use this for some parties."

Are you guys big pumpkin pie people?

I absolutely love pumpkin pie.

Must-try items from the famous Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurant

I have to ask about your restaurant, Murray Bros. Caddyshack. I know you have a second location now?

We have the restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida, at the World Golf Village. We opened one in Rosemont, Illinois, which is basically right next to O'Hare Airport in Chicago. We have a book signing there on [November] 11th.

For those who have never been, what are the top things on the menu that we have to try if we go for the first time?

Besides the Key Lime Pie, the golf balls are a huge hit. They're wonderful. They're these [mashed] potato, cheese, and bacon golf [ball-shaped] things. They're fried and they're wonderful. You really need to have those.

I make a Brussels sprout hash there. That's wonderful. I have a truffle mac and cheese that is really killer. My onion soup is pretty good.

Click here to learn more and purchase a copy of Andy Murray's new family cookbook, "Eat, Drink and Be Murray: A Feast of Family Fun and Favorites."

This interview has been edited for clarity.