Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara, have released “Well Done! Life, Love & Food,” a book of family food stories, favorite anecdotes and handed-down recipes.
Before Jack Nicklaus comes home for a midday break on a recent day, Barbara Nicklaus offers a word of caution to Liz Balmaseda of The Seattle Times: “He’s going to tell you this story, but don’t believe him.”
The golf superstar’s wife says this with a wink as she slathers sweet cream-cheese frosting on a home-baked, three-layer red velvet cake. If one detects a swell of authority in her voice, it’s for good reason: She’s standing in her command central, the well-stocked, sweetly appointed North Palm Beach, Fla., kitchen otherwise known as “Barbara’s Sugar Factory.”
This kitchen is to her what Augusta National is to her husband. So when The Golden Bear delivers his “peas every night” story, be very skeptical, she warned the Times.“He’ll tell you he was afraid to tell me if he liked something I cooked for fear that he’d get it every day,” says Barbara Nicklaus, who has shared a 55-year marriage, five children and 22 grandchildren with the golf icon. “He claims he asked for peas for dinner and he got peas every night. But I know he didn’t.”
And, indeed, when Jack Nicklaus arrives and joins the conversation about the newly released cookbook he co-authored with his wife, praising her Veal Parmesan and Chicken Tetrazzini, it doesn’t take long for him to bring up the peas story. “He’s so wrong,” Barbara Nicklaus interjects with mock indignation.
It should be noted that there are just two recipes in their Well Done! Life, Love & Food cookbook that call for peas and one of them marks them as “optional,” the Times reported.
Food stories have a way of rising like a cheese souffle in the Nicklaus family kitchen. They linger as long as loved ones around the kitchen island in the Lost Tree Village home where the Nicklauses have lived for nearly 50 years. Now those stories are tucked into Well Done! Life,Love and Food. Peppered with favorite anecdotes and handed-down recipes, the self-published book offers a glimpse into the family that sat around the dinner table nightly for home-cooked meals, no matter the day’s bustle.
The cookbook contains more than 300 recipes, many of them continental classics that, in this day of re-imagined this and deconstructed that, seem to belong to another, less fussy era.
“We don’t eat very fancy. We eat fish, steak, chicken. Just simple,” Jack Nicklaus, who has high praise for his wife’s cooking, said. “She’s good at just about everything.” So good, in fact, that, outdoor grilling aside, he rarely attempts to cook. “Why would I learn to cook when I have someone who does it so well?” he said.