“I started sampling the food as a kid at San Simeon along about 1919. Today, with somewhat of a reputation as a world traveler, I can honestly say that I have never eaten better food any place.
Practically all of the perishable food – beef and venison, all sorts of poultry, eggs, most of the fish, vegetables, and fruits were raised, shot, caught or grown and eaten right there on the place, which, of course, contributes a great deal to the savory result.
The cooking was, with the exception of a very few dishes, just plain American home cooking. By this I don’t mean Grandma Hearst or Mom did it themselves, but I do mean that there were a minimum of dishes done in a fancy French or Italian style.
There were some, of course, as Pop was a great fancier of fowl and raised literally dozens of varieties of pheasant, guinea hen and partridges, ducks, geese and what not, right there on the ranch.
Probably his favorite fancy dish was pressed duck. The ducks themselves, I recall, were never cooked more than a few minutes and then what was left of them was squeezed in a silver miniature wine press and the fluid thus obtained mixed with red wine and used as a sort of gravy.
While, as I say, the food was plainly cooked, Pop was not what you would call a steak and potato man. His taste ran more to fowl and birds, lamb chops, corn beef and cabbage, ham and hominy grits, and on occasion rare roast beef, kidneys, tripe, etc. rather than T-Bone.”
William Randolph Hearst was a nibbler, rarely passing a bowl of nuts or candy or fruit without sampling it. He never touched scotch or gin but enjoyed a glass of wine or beer with most of his meals.
Lunch would be served buffet style about 1:30 p.m., dinner about 8:30 followed by a movie, and if the night would run as it frequently did, for an hour or so later, the chances were better than even he would be in the kitchen either grabbing a snack of cold meat and cheese for himself or making a Welsh Rarebit for all comers. The latter dish he made with pride and some beer, but whatever the recipe I know it was a favorite of all those who were fortunate enough to partake of it.
The kitchen staff included the head chef, his assistant, the pastry chef, the chef for the employees and the dishwasher. The dining staff included two butlers and a variety of waitresses and waiters.
Beef was butchered on the ranch and stored in a walk-in refrigerator to age. Eggs were delivered to the Castle daily. Hearst’s dairy furnished the milk, butter, cream, and cheeses. Fruits and nuts were picked from the orchards: oranges, lemons, persimmons, pears, apples, tangerines, apricots, prunes, plums, nectarines, figs, grapefruit, mulberries, kumquats, peaches, avocados guava, quince, all kinds of berries, black and English walnuts. Dry ingredients for chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch puddings, and condiments such as mustard and Worcestershire sauce were purchased by the gallon.”