Picks and Pans Review: Celebrity Chefs, Vol. I and Ii

updated 05/02/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The frenetic pace and the nagging of host Robert Morley—"We don't have all day, dear boy"—are off-putting. But these collections of shows from the cable TV series provide some fun as well as alluring menu suggestions. Each 60-minute tape features eight guest cooks working out their recipes while Morley, the British actor-pitchman, keeps up a steady chatter. David Brenner looks ready to dump his frozen chocolate-peanut butter torte mixture over the host's head after Morley sneers, "I don't like peanut butter." Helen Hayes displays a regal calm despite Morley's badgering. When he says, "How do you keep that lovely figure?" she scoffs, "Oh, come on." While much of the routine preparation was done off-camera, most crucial steps are shown and the dishes look delicious. Rita Moreno concocts a hearty Cuban beef stew, Lynn Redgrave does an English kedgeree (shredded fish with rice), former baseball pitcher Tug McGraw barbecues lamb chops with goat cheese in grape leaves, and an all-business Phyllis Diller deftly works up a salmon en papillote with a dill-port-cream sauce. Phylicia Rashad, Dick Cavett, Willard Scott, Maria Gibbs of 227, Rene Auberjonois of Benson, Tony Randall, Carol Channing, Van Johnson and Geoffrey Holder are the other guests. Even Johnson, who seems the least at ease in the kitchen, is in fact a serious chef, and all these people are more impressive as cooks than the guests on Celebrity Bowling were as bowlers. (Creative Programming, 1/800-426-4962, $24.95)

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