Actor Harry Hamlin was immortalized as The King of Bolognese on a spicy episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills a few seasons back. He became the unofficial chef of the series starring his wife Lisa Rinna and is now bringing those cooking skills and his home to AMC/IFC’s In the Kitchen with Harry Hamlin on Wednesday, May 15.

Each week the show welcomes a variety of guests including Rinna, Ted Danson (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and wife Mary Steenburgen, Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Tongayi Chirisa (Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches), Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live) and Ed Begley Jr. (Better Call Saul), among others.

Hamlin co-stars with his niece, accomplished chef and culinary consultant Renee Guilbault. It’s a yin and a yang recipe with subtle Curb Your Enthusiasm notes. The series is a clever deadpan mix of cooking, celebrity stories, and how mistakes and mishaps can lead to some of the greatest culinary innovations and family recipes. Like Linoleum Chicken.

Harry Hamlin

In The Kitchen With Harry Hamlin and Renee Guilbault (Courtesy AMC)

“Many years ago we had a cabin in Canada,” Executive Producer Hamlin tells L.A. Weekly, on a break from filming Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches in New Orleans. “I learned to cook because that cabin was in a location that had no restaurants around until about 10 years ago. There was no way to eat unless you cooked your own food. I’ve been going up there for about 60 years now and we developed a group that includes friends of my dad when he was still alive. I’d have them over for dinner from time to time. One day I had an impromptu dinner and I happened to have chicken in the fridge. I’d never cooked a chicken before, but I threw it in the oven with a bunch of carrots, potatoes, rosemary and garlic. I had some white wine lying around and said what the hell, I threw that in, too. It got all nice and brown and I thought, wow, maybe I know how to cook a chicken. Meanwhile, the group was in the dining room having a great time. I was alone in the kitchen and when I went to pull it out, I burned myself on the side of the oven and dropped the whole thing. It went topsy-turvy on the linoleum floor, all of it. I frantically scraped everything back into the pan, mopped up the mess and served it without telling anybody that the dinner had skidded across the kitchen floor. Everybody raved that it was the best chicken they’d ever had and nobody was ever the wiser. Two of my dad’s friends went to the nearby yonder, never knowing the secret to Linoleum Chicken.”

Harry Hamlin

Harry Hamlin on RHOBH (Courtesy Bravo)

Celebrity guests on the show share behind-the-scenes stories around the dinner table, like how Jack Nicholson gave Steenburgen her big break when he discovered her in the reception room of Paramount Pictures’ New York Office. He gave her the female lead in his second directorial work, the Western comedy Goin’ South. Hamlin counts Nicholson as one of his neighbors. 

Hamlin starred in the cult classic Clash of the Titans, the ground-breaking Making Love and L.A. Law (now streaming on Hulu), and received an Emmy nomination for his role on Mad Men. He currently appears in  Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches.

“My earliest memories of Uncle Harry were of pegasus around the time of Clash of the Titans,” says Guilbault, whose 30 years of hands-on experience encompasses almost every aspect of the food industry. “He was on my lunchbox. I was so little, I didn’t know the difference between what was real and what was on screen. I was obsessed with horses at the time and he’d always assure me that pegasus was safe at home asleep in her stable. He was always so playful and I’ve treasured the relationship ever since.”

Harry Hamlin

Harry Hamlin and niece Renee Guilbault (Courtesy AMC)

What Guilbault enjoys most about cooking with her uncle is his attention to detail. He’ll be at his cabin in Canada trying out recipes, sending her texts and videos in real-time,  making sure that he’s doing it correctly. Among other things, he credits her with teaching him how to cut an onion properly and blanch green beans.

Hamlin, who says he’s never watched a cooking show, prefers to cook at home to eating at restaurants. He says it always hurts his digestive system.  People’s Sexiest Man even perfected the Linoleum Chicken to the level of his Bolognese, which could be appearing on grocery shelves in the near future.

“Mistakes have probably led to some of the greatest culinary innovations of our time,” says Guilbault. “Real life in professional kitchens — things get dropped, things get burned and ultimately destroyed. As a chef, your job is to fix it and make it palatable and delicious. That’s just how life is. Nothing’s perfect and I love how the show allows that to be the narrative. It’s OK when mistakes happen. It’s what we do with them that really matters.”















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