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Books Chat

book cover

Ethan Phillips

A chat with the co-author of 'Star Trek Cookbook'

(CNN) -- Ethan Phillips, who stars as Neelix, a Talaxian chef on television's "Star Trek: Voyager," has explored the final frontiers of his kitchen with the "Star Trek Cookbook," featuring real out-of-this-world recipes!

Phillips and co-author William Birnes throw wide the vaults of interstellar haute cuisine, revealing the secret preparation techniques behind exotic dishes like "Chadre Kab a la Neelix," and "Plomeek Soup."

The favorite foods from every Star Trek series and movie are in the book -- all adapted for practical use in 20th century kitchens.

Phillips was the guest in the CNN Interactive Author Chat on January 5, and here's a transcript of that hilarious chat.

Question: What kind of things do star travelers like to eat?

Ethan Phillips: We like to eat. Tom Paris likes pizza, the captain enjoys coffee cake, Seven of Nine enjoys console siding and Borgonzola cheese. Lt. Torres - she likes kidney and eyelids. Chakotay likes mushroom soup. The doctor is fond of light matrixes. Kim eats anything. Mr. Tuvok - anything sweet.

Question: Will any of the recipes that were included in the season one trading cards be included?

Ethan Phillips: I believe so. I should expect a few of them to show up.

Question: I wasn't aware Vulcans have a sweet would seem illogical to eat anything that would undermine good dental hygiene.

Ethan Phillips: Your comment is very astute. Mr. Tubok has compromised many of his values being in the Delta quadrant.

Question: Did anyone from the show put any recipes in the book?

Ethan Phillips: Yes, every actor on Voyager, including many guest stars, contributed their addition. In addition, most of the actors from all the other series contributed recipes.

Here's an example:


Deanna Troi is fond of a Betazoid delicacy known as oskoid, a leafy plant similar to red or green romaine lettuce. If you want to impress the Betazoid in your life with an oskoid salad, combine sesame salad dressing or tahini with just a touch of soy sauce and rice vinegar and shake very well. Arrange leaves of green and red romaine lettuce around a sliced Bermuda onion and pour the dressing over them. No need to toss; just wrap the onion slices in the lettuce leaves.

Question: Ethan, why is string cheese a top ten Borg recipe?

Ethan Phillips: Because it was so out of place I thought it would be funny. But some Borgs use string cheese as currency.

Question: Is there a recipe for Cardassian Kanar, Romulan Ale, Klingon Drinks - not implying all alcoholic drinks.

Ethan Phillips: We have a lot of Klingon recipes and the ones you mentioned are included.

Question: Cows are probably rare in the delta quadrant

Ethan Phillips: There is a planet that contains just cows. It's called Bovina. And there are over ten thousand cows there.

Question: Do the running jokes about Neelix's cooking ever get tiring?

Ethan Phillips: I'm sick of them! In almost five seasons of the show, my cooking has been complimented three times. I'm a broken man.

Question: Do you miss Kes at all?

Ethan Phillips: Yes. She was my heart and my soul. And my lungs. But she is doing very well off on her own...she and my lungs.

Question: Mr. Phillips, was there a fire on the set, or was that just a rumor?

Ethan Phillips: There was a fire on the set. I started it. I was depressed, upset, over the lack of respect towards my cooking. I decided to get back at them. The Pleeka Rind - they said the Pleeka Rind was burnt. I said, "I'll show you burnt!"

Question: Mr. Phillips, are there any planned episodes that will cover more about Neelix in the past?

Ethan Phillips: Yeah, they'll continue to explore Mr. Neelix.

Question: Any plans for a book signing for the new cookbook?

Ethan Phillips: I plan to quite a few book signings in the southern California area. Borders, Barnes and Noble, Booksoup.

Question: Ethan, you are going to contain the book signings only in the California region?

Ethan Phillips: If Simon and Schuster wants to fly me I'll consider Monte Carlo,

St. Tropez, and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Question: Mr. Phillips are you planned to appear in any upcoming conventions?

Ethan Phillips: I'm going to Chicago and Dayton, Ohio this weekend. And in April, Washington, D.C.

Question: Ethan, where in Chicago?

Ethan Phillips: Chicago- It's in Rosemont, Illinois. At the Ramada Plaza - O'Hare.

Question: Mr. Phillips...don't know if this was already asked - but what inspired you to write a book? It must take a lot of time with your acting schedule

Ethan Phillips: I just love to cook!

Question: What's your favorite thing to cook?

Ethan Phillips: Middle Eastern food. Especially FoulMaddamas. Anything with fava beans. The basic mid-Eastern backbone to any dish is to me the best tasting thing is the world. That is lemon, parsley, olive oil, and tomatoes.

Question: Ethan, do you cook for your acting buddies? If so, what are some of their favorites you cook for them?

Ethan Phillips: No!

Question: I have a recipe for a feta cheese and pinto bean quesadilla that you'd probably like, Ethan.

Ethan Phillips: Send it to me care of Paramount.

Question: I'll be glad to!

Question: Have you got any recipes with vegimite in them?

Ethan Phillips: Are you from Australia?

Question: Yes, I certainly am.

Question: Ethan, is there a place to send your e-mail or fan-mail, with recipes or whatsoever, that you might actually receive? :)

Ethan Phillips:

Paramount Pictures

Attn: Star Trek Voyager

5555 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90038

Question: So what's it like trying to shoot scenes with food in them - is the food real? Or just fake props?

Ethan Phillips: The food is real on the set. If we have to eat it, it's prepared in the appropriate manner. If the food is just as a prop, as a background, then you don't want to eat it- it's been sitting there a while. A good prop person gets his food at different ethnic markets and tries to get the most bizarre looking stuff and then dress it up.

Question: Good evening from starship adapt a.k.a. disabled/deaf fandom...Question: What exactly does Talaxian cooking taste like? Any examples?

Ethan Phillips: It's earthy, gamey, some might even say rancid. But I say to them - pfffft!

Question: Mr. Phillips, are you planning any visits up to Canada? Just wondering, as travelling to the States from here for a convention is costly:)

Ethan Phillips: I love Canada. My wife is from Canada. I love the Canadian version of the Duke Ellington song, "Take the Train, eh!"

Question: Will you be visiting Australia, Ethan?

Ethan Phillips: I was in Australia last year.

Question: Ethan, you wouldn't perchance offer us a way to send you email from time to time?

Ethan Phillips: I have no functioning email account.

Question: Ethan, is the lack of email function by choice or by circumstance?

Ethan Phillips: Reach me at

Question: Mr. Phillips - if you could cook the perfect meal for someone you love ...ya know to impress them... What would YOU cook?

Ethan Phillips: I would serve them something that tasted good.

Question: you have your makeup on right now?

Ethan Phillips:: Yes. I am at this moment Neelix.

Question: How did Neelix become Namoi's Godfather?

Ethan Phillips: He was appointed that by the Captain and by Ensign Wildman.

Question: I love making homemade gnocchi...with homemade sauce...the right wine...and of course the right you agree that the right atmosphere can make food taste even better?

Ethan Phillips: I love that restaurant on the moon. The food is great – but there’s no atmosphere.

Question: Hey Ethan - what do you think that Klingons think of Neelix's cooking?

Ethan Phillips: Klingons love my cooking. The flesh and the saltiness and the brains...

Question: Neelix *was* a Klingon one episode last season... that's tougher than eating gagh. :)

Question: You're incorrect...that was half Vulcan, half Neelix

Ethan Phillips: You're thinking of the episode "Tuvix"

Question: Mr. Phillips, what did happen to Tuvix?

Ethan Phillips: Tuvix was the first and only character to ever be executed on Star Trek.

Question: Why?

Ethan Phillips: Because the Captain had to decide whether to keep Tuvix or bring back Neelix and Tuvok. She chose the latter.

Question: About the book...are the recipes easy to make?

Ethan Phillips:: The recipes are very easy to make for the most part.

Question: Where did you get the recipes from?

Ethan Phillips: Friends, neighbors, family.

Question: How did the buns get burnt

Ethan Phillips: Whose buns?

Question: Captain protons buns

Ethan Phillips: I must have been asleep.

Question: Did any of the Voyager cast contribute, and, if so, what did Kate Mulgrew contribute?

Ethan Phillips: Kate Mulgrew contributed pork tenderloin.

Question: This is great, but why did you do this cookbook?

Question: $ (money)

Ethan Phillips: Money talks, but all it ever says is goodbye. My real reason for doing the cookbook was to bring joy and laughter and good food to the many fans of Star Trek.

Ethan Phillips: Thank you guys! Any final questions? I hope you all buy the book because it's really a lot of fun.

Question: Any morel mushroom recipes?

Ethan Phillips: There are a lot of mushroom recipes in there. A lot of them!

Question: Thanks for the info. I'll look into the book. My kids are also "trekkers" - what a great way to teach them to cook ; )

Ethan Phillips: That's definitely true.

Question: Great. I love them ‘shrooms. I'll be looking for that book.

Ethan Phillips: Chakotay loves the 'shrooms.

Question: Where is this book available?

Ethan Phillips: Any big bookstore will have it. You can always get it off Goodnight! And thanks again!

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