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In 2004 Ian Kelly was asked to adapt his book, Cooking for Kings, for the new York stage as a one-man show; part of the first Brits Off Broadway Festival launching the new arts complex at Park Avenue and 59th Street, called 59e59. Cooking for Kings, a show in which Ian both cooks, acts, and, ultimately, feeds his audience, garnered rave reviews in 2004 and was brought back ‘by popular demand by the theatre in 2006 in rep with Ron Hutchinson’s Beau Brummell in which Kelly played the Beau.


‘A magnificent work. Ian Kelly is at the vanguard of the new rock’n’roll of culinary literature.’ 

‘Ian Kelly – actor, writer and chef: the Dirk Bogarde or Sam Shepard of the kitchen… I was really truly bowled over.’

‘The most inspiring play in New York this year.’

‘Kelly’s performance is as tart as a lemon, as sweet as chocolate, as savory as a thick stew. And finally, it is as satisfying as a banquet. From early childhood most people learn to equate food with love. But few take the metaphor to the same extremes as legendary French chef Antonin Careme, whose life story is told in Ian Kelly’s one-man-show “Cooking for Kings.” Kelly fills his play with tantalizing details and garnishes them with ironic wit and clever wordplay. As a performer, Kelly has boundless energy and tremendous powers of concentration and he makes a technically difficult play look deceptively easy. While Careme, who is actually cooking, grabs bowls, pots and utensils from an overhead rack and chops, stirs and heats, he describes his activities with the zest of Julia Child. And Careme is accomplished at multitasking. He is never at a loss for words. He never loses his train of thought. If Careme’s story is fascinating because of the famous people he knew, the tumultuous times he lived in and the many innovations he made in the art of cooking (from the dishes he made to the hat he wore), it is powerful on a more personal level. Kelly portrays the great chef as vain and sarcastic but also vulnerable and ultimately tragic.’

‘Kelly is unforgettably compelling as Careme’ by Joe Hurley. This prolific performer Ian Kelly has written a book, Cooking for Kings, and adapted it into a solo show…Careme, in the person of the agile, fast-moving Kelly… seems as adroit at handling the myriad pots, pans, colanders and other utensils that hang above him as he is at telling his stories so it easy to become convinced that, if asked, he could effortlessly whip up one of Careme’s multi-coursed banquets…Every instant of Cooking for Kings is compelling and many come close to defying belief. As eloquently and wryly delivered by the remarkable actor and writer Ian Kelly the show ends up delivering an unforgettable portrait of the culinary world and the world’s first celebrity chef.’