Andy Murray readily admits he can’t type but has written a spectacular book nonetheless. “Eat, Drink and Be Murray” passes for a very good cookbook, but it’s much more, a story of family, love and fun, and, yes and naturally, a little golf.
“Since my childhood, I have always frequented the golf courses,” he says. “And the kitchens.”
We were seated one recent afternoon at Dublins Bar & Grill on the Near North Side. He has a small kitchen which is capable of producing a surprisingly large variety of meals and Murray was particularly impressed with, of all the afternoon snacks, the Rockefeller oysters, which we shared and which he judged” really, really good and from this little kitchen”.
He knows food, having spent most of his life in kitchens, since the day he was four and his mother said to him, “Andy, it’s time for you to learn how to make bacon.”
He learned this and started working as a bus driver when he was 11 years old. He was also a caddy at the Indian Hill Club, where all of his brothers carried golf bags.
“I fell in love with restaurants on day one,” he said. “They gave me food. And that beat the hot dogs and drinks we had to pay for ourselves at the golf course.
He flirted with college, sold life insurance for a short time, attended New York Restaurant School and, after a chance meeting backstage at “Saturday Night Live”, worked at La Terrace on Shelter Island. At New York. Later he spent a lively few years at Mortimer’s in Manhattan, a place that attracted such star-hungry socialites and stars as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Frank Sinatra, about whom Murray writes in the book, along with a recipe: “He loved the Dover Sole we served him so much that he generously tipped all the staff.
For the past two decades, he has overseen Murray Bros. Caddyshack which he owns and operates in partnership with his brothers. The first opened in 2001 in St Augustine, Florida, where he lives most of the year, and the other has been in Rosemont since 2018.
He is an affable, funny and optimistic guy, traits he shares with the other members of his large family. A few of his brothers are also writers, although best known for what they do as actors. His older brother Brian has written extensively for television and film, including the script for “Caddyshack” with Harold Ramis and Doug Kenney. His brother Bill, who starred in this film and many others, wrote an animated preface to Andy’s book. He also wrote a trivia-filled book in 1999 called “Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf,” co-authored with Golf Digest editor George Peper.
When this book was published, he said to me as he sat in the Billy Goat, “People have been asking me to write a book for a while. But there are all these comedians who have written books about their lives. I didn’t want to do an “I’m so wonderful” kind of book. I didn’t want an “as shown” book because they are too thin. The idea of a book on golf appealed to me.
In Andy’s book, Bill writes, “Andy is my little brother. Not the smallest, but the smallest. So many lovely, adorable siblings, and if you’re smaller – a special you, must raise your voice to be heard above the din. And by the stove, in the shade of our mother, is where little Andy learned to love.
These three brothers grew up with six other siblings – Edward, Nancy, Peggy, Laura, Johnny and Joel – in a small house in Wilmette. In an early article about Bill in the Washington Post, the writer fell in love with his description of Wilmette as “a little mining town north of Chicago.”
Andy writes: “With so many children among us, there was a boys’ room, a girls’ room and, as the family grew, a baby in a crib with my parents. My love of food – and family – comes from my mother. Lucille was the tallest. Everyone felt at home when he sat at his table. Whether it’s a celebrity like John Belushi or the next door neighbor, mom made everyone feel special.
He also loved his father Edward, writing, “There was always a contest to make my dad laugh at dinner. If you could make dad laugh, that was a big deal.
The laughter stopped for a while after December 29, 1967, when her father died of complications from diabetes that clouded her entire life. He was 46 years old.
“We’re all going to have to stick together,” Lucille said.
And they did, pursuing various paths (Nancy became a nun) but remaining close, even after her death in 1988. “We’re still very close,” Andy said. “If we don’t talk on the phone, we text each other and get together frequently.”
This book originated three years ago when Andy was cooking Thanksgiving dinner at Bill’s house in South Carolina. A woman named Karen Duffy sat watching him and said over time, “You should write a book.” She pitched it to her agent, who liked the idea and Andy admittedly hesitantly began to think about it. Then COVID came along and Andy got some time off and started working.
The book has become a family affair, with siblings (older brother Ed died at the end of 2020) contributing, whether sharing recipes, stories, jokes and dozens of charming and evocative photos of the Murray family over the years.
He credits his friend, former Tribune reporter, television and radio personality and author Jenniffer Weigel, “without whose constant help and encouragement, none of this would have been possible,” he wrote.
Full disclosure: I don’t cook. But this book is a real treat and I actually think I could make a lot of meals out of its pages.
“That was the idea, simple recipes,” says Andy. “It’s all about comfort food.”
You will find recipes such as French Toast, Chicken Hash, Ribs, Chili, Pea Soup, Tomato Pie, Roast Pork, Lasagna, Meatloaf, Fried Chicken and dozens of others. There are unique items (including a “peanut butter, lettuce and mayonnaise sandwich” and “Caddyshack golf balls”, a fried creation. There are salads, sandwiches and desserts. And , since most of Clan Murray is fond of libations, number of cocktail concoctions.
The recipes in the book are spiced up, so to speak, with delicious stories that help create what is both a personal memoir and a family saga. The Murrays are a generally private group and they remain so here, although you will learn a lot about them.
“I’m proud of the book,” Andy said.
We ordered another drink. He told me about a two-week golf trip to Ireland with his brothers, a few buddies, including former poet laureate of the United States Billy Collins, and Andy’s son Drew, “by far the best golfer in family,” Andy said proudly. He opened up about his recent and successful battle with throat cancer, saying, “I spent time here with my sister and we aggressively pursued it. I told the doctors, “Don’t mess with the vocal cords.” We talked about the Cubs. He told me that he had visited the burial places of his parents and other members of his family. He looked happy and was happy to be back in Chicago for a while.
“Am I a celebrity chef?” He asked. “God, I hope not. I have always been and always will be a chef. We have enough celebrities in the family.