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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Ex-prison chef details last meals

CROCKETT, Texas – A cheeseburger and french fries.
That’s what more Texas inmates facing execution request as a last meal than any other, says Brian Price, who prepared 220 final meals in the Huntsville prison kitchen while serving 14 years there himself.
Steak, ice cream and fried chicken are popular too. Vegetables? Not so much, although one inmate wanted fried squash, fried eggplant, mashed potatoes, snap peas, boiled cabbage, corn on the cob, spinach and cheese-covered broccoli with his chicken.
Price provides 42 jailhouse recipes and details on the inmates’ crimes in ”Meals to Die For,” a more than 500-page cookbook coming out in March. Paige Corp. of San Antonio, whose president is Frank Wesch, Price’s nephew, is the publisher.
”Some folks think I’m poking fun at a serious and solemn subject,” said Price, who was paroled last year after serving time on a pair of convictions related to the abduction of his brother-in-law and a sexual assault on an ex-wife. ”My intention is not to offend anyone.”
But with recipes with names such as Gallows Gravy, Rice Rigor Mortis and Old Sparky’s Genuine Convict Chili in escalating levels of spice (5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 volts), some people find the book in bad taste.
”He’s a scum-sucking bottom-feeder,” said Dianne Clements, president of the Houston-based Justice For All, a victims’ rights group. She said Price is trying to profit from crime at the expense of victims.
Price said his book is as much about prison experiences as it is food.
”There’s a fascination with death, the macabre, a curiosity of the dark side,” he said. ”There’s no way to get around it.”
Until December, every item requested in a last meal since Texas resumed capital punishment in 1982 was listed on the state Department of Criminal Justice’s Internet site. That was 313 meals until the site was updated and the listing eliminated because officials said they’d received complaints from people who found it offensive.
”The subject of last meals is one that seems to captivate the public,” department spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said. Price will ”definitely find an audience in chronicling his years as the preparer of all the last meals.”
Price’s recollections draw from the prison system’s online records of death row inmates and are embellished with entries he made in a personal journal during his years in prison. He also includes in the book copies of some of the handwritten notes inmates submitted requesting their final meals.

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