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Exclusive Interview: “The Star Trek Cookbook” Writer Chelsea Monroe-Cassel


While a lot of food in Star Trek comes from the replicators, there’s plenty of fresh food where no one has eaten before. And no, I don’t just mean gagh. But you don’t have to visit the promenade on Deep Space 9 or the galley on the U.S.S. Voyager to enjoy them; you can make them at home thanks to Chelsea Monroe-Cassel’s new cookbook, The Star Trek Cookbook (hardcover, Kindle), the origin of which she discusses in the following email interview.

Chelsea Monroe-Cassel The Star Trek Cookbook

To start, what exactly is The Star Trek Cookbook?

Conceptually, it’s a Starfleet-sponsored recipe collection intended to foster better understanding and empathy between different cultures in the Federation. I’ve tried to create recipes that are both delicious and a little unfamiliar, and every dish has a direct connection to a canon or semi-canon food within the Star Trek universe.

What are some of the foods you have in The Star Trek Cookbook?

There are a lot of familiar classics, like Klingon Bloodwine, Plomeek Soup, Raktajino, Hasperat, and so on, but also some wild and interesting recipes, like Uttaberry Cruffins, Snaildoodles, Katterpod Noodle Bowl, and Quadrotriticale Salad.

When it came to figuring out how to make them, what kind of research did you do? Did you just watch the relevant show or movie, or did someone from the props department send you photos of what they made, maybe even how they made it?

The Memory Alpha and Beta wikis were utterly invaluable for the research phase of this project. I made extensive lists of the foods seen in the series, and cross checked it with an eye towards creating a balanced collection of recipes, with (hopefully) something for everyone. I also tried to solve some discrepancies between the two wikis, as in the case of those colorful food cubes from the original series. They are clearly canon, but never named officially. There are some semi-canon sources that claim they are Andorian Gristhera. So I sought to bridge the gap by giving them the name Starfleet Food Rations (SFRs), but posited that they were inspired by the Andorian dish.

How did you figure out how to make these things using real world ingredients? Did it take a lot of trial and error, or were they rather obvious?

If I had reference images from the show, I always tried to match my recipe to those pictures as well as I could. That’s why I chose a red hue for the Plomeek Soup, for example, because it’s a reddish-pink color in the original series (although it’s different colors in later shows, but let’s just chalk that up to replicator / Neelix malfunctions).

I want to talk specifically about the three foods I think of most when it comes to Star Trek: Romulan Ale, which is obviously an alcoholic beverage; raktajino, which is Klingon coffee; and gagh, a Klingon delicacy — all three of which are in The Star Trek Cookbook. How hard was it to figure out what raktajino should be? Or did you just think, “Oh, it must be like Turkish coffee”?

Well, on screen we see raktajino served in large mugs, so that pretty much ruled out Turkish coffee, which is more like espresso in size and strength. I wanted to make this recipe something really unusual, but obviously delicious. When I was researching different unusual coffees around the world for another project, I found a great technique that involves boiling up the coffee grounds with a crushed egg, shell and all. It looks absolutely horrifying as it boils, but once strained, it’s this beautiful amber color, with mellow flavor that is really drinkable. I loved it iced, as well.

Romulan Ale

Excerpted from The Star Trek Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. Copyright © 2022 by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. Reprinted by permission of Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


And then, with Romulan Ale, were you surprised they let you include an alcoholic beverage in The Star Trek Cookbook? Or is the one in the book non-alcoholic?

I wasn’t surprised, no. The Romulan Ale is one of the more iconic drinks from Star Trek, so I would have fought to include it.

Was it hard to devise a recipe for it?

I ended up going pretty simple, with blue curaçao, rum, and blue sports drink, which I read is what they used on screen in several of the series.

And then gagh is made with live serpent worms. Where do you get fresh serpent worms this time of year? I mean, I know a guy, but he’s unreliable.

My usual supplier is still having trouble with transport and logistics because of the pandemic, so I had to create a faux-worm version. I wouldn’t serve it to any visiting Klingons, who might take it as an insult, but the flavors are very similar to true gagh.

I’ll take your word for it. Now, obviously, not everyone who will buy The Star Trek Cookbook will be a master chef. Is it safe to assume that not all of the recipes are complicated?

There’s definitely a mix, and I was sure to mark all the recipes from 1-4 difficulty levels to help readers pick something they can manage, according to skills needed and any oddball ingredients or equipment that might be required.

Chelsea Monroe-Cassel The Star Trek Cookbook

Rigelian Chocolate Truffles

Excerpted from The Star Trek Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. Copyright © 2022 by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. Reprinted by permission of Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


For people who can’t cook, what recipe in The Star Trek Cookbook would you suggest they start with?

Some of the easier recipes include the Plomeek Soup, Bolian Tomato Soup, Krada Leg Skewers, Ktarian Pudding, and Romulan Ale.

And for those same people, but ones that are hoping The Star Trek Cookbook will be a gateway drug to them cooking more, is there one or more that you’d suggest they do because it will teach them a helpful skill?

Most of my cookbooks assume a basic skill level in the kitchen, so I don’t explain how to knead bread, or the difference between a simmer and a boil. I always figure that if someone has the internet skills to get online to complain about the complexity of a recipe, they also have the skills to look up cooking terms.

That said, I think maybe just the concept of making sauces or condiments that can be used in multiple recipes is a neat innovation. I did this with custom spice blends in some of my other cookbooks, and it seems like people have had a lot of fun with that. So I’d encourage people to play with some of the basic recipe, like the Kavarian Olive Oil, and create something they really love that can be used for a wide variety of other foods.

Now, The Star Trek Cookbook is not the first cookbook you’ve written based on a show or movie. You wrote A Feast Of Ice And Fire: The Official Game Of Thrones Cookbook, World Of Warcraft: New Flavors Of Azeroth, and Firefly: The Big Damn Cookbook, to name a few. What is it about these kind of cookbooks that you just enjoy writing so much?

I have a treasure-hunting streak in me, and bizarrely, this actually scratches that itch a little bit. I get to explore new fictional realms through their foods, and then translate what I discover into recipes that everyone can use. It’s a big honor to be able to grow those worlds just a tiny bit, and to help other fans step a little closer to what they love so much.

And how often does your mother ask you, “When are you going to write a regular cookbook, dearie?”

Ha! Both my parents are so supportive, although I suspect they might just be relieved that I grew out of being a picky eater. They’re often my first taste testers, and even take a crack at the related video games, TV shows, and whatnot that I’m cooking from, just to better understand what I’m doing.

Denobulan Sausages

Excerpted from The Star Trek Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. Copyright © 2022 by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. Reprinted by permission of Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Is there anything that you learned from one of your previous cookbooks that had a big influence on The Star Trek Cookbook?

I’m lucky in that I get to build on all my previous experiences and cookbook projects every time I embark on a new challenge. The Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook probably had the most impact on this one, in that they are both filled with “space food.” But I also had an absolute blast working with a stylist and photographer for that book, and I learned a ton in the process that helped me really take the photos for Star Trek up a notch.

And in a similar vein, are there any so-called “normal” cookbooks that had a big influence on The Star Trek Cookbook?

I’m not sure if it qualifies as “normal,” but I loved flipping through the cookbook Future Food Today: A Cookbook By Space 10, and seeing their take on what foods of the future might be like, with unusual preparations, platings, and ingredients. I think that partially influenced how I put the cookbook together, especially with the idea of putting different components together to create a full dish.

A week after I was pitched this interview with you about The Star Trek Cookbook I got a similar pitch to interview Victoria Rosenthal, who’s written a bunch of video game-related cookbooks, including the recent Halo: The Official Cookbook. Why do you think people like cookbooks based on movies, TV shows, and video games?

I think a lot of fans are searching for new ways to experience their fandoms, through cosplay, prop-building, etc. and food is just another way of getting a little closer to what they love. It’s a form of escapism, probably, but one that also nourishes. It can be a struggle to keep finding new interesting foods to put on the table, so these books offer a new angle on cooking that makes it more fun.

There are a number of fictional food authors out there who are also superfans of these worlds, putting our hearts (and a lot of research, testing, etc.) into each book, so the genre has really expanded hugely since I worked on the first Game Of Thrones cookbook.

So, if it was up to you, what show, movie, or game would you most want to write a cookbook for?

I am so lucky that I have been able to create cookbooks for almost everything on my dream list already. But Lord Of The Rings is an obvious choice, of course. I did write The Shire Cookbook for that setting, but I’d love to explore the greater world of Middle-earth through food.

Chelsea Monroe-Cassel The Star Trek Cookbook

Finally, if someone enjoys The Star Trek Cookbook, which of your other cookbooks would you suggest they pick up next?

It all depends on their interests. If they’re after some more interesting space food, I’d suggest the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook or Firefly: The Big Damn Cookbook. If they’re just looking for some very tasty all purpose recipes, I’d suggest The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook, and for something in between, maybe World Of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook or Overwatch: The Official Cookbook. Hearthstone: Innkeeper’s Tavern Cookbook is comforting snack foods and cocktails, while A Feast Of Ice And Fire: The Official Game Of Thrones Cookbook, my first ever, is a wild combination of the ordinary and the exotic. In short, hopefully something for everyone.



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