Millionaire Gourmet: Diamond Jim Brady Part 2

About Diamond Jim Brady, a millionaire and United States eating champion with an insatiable appetite for the good life and food.

"Diamond Jim" BRADY (1856-1917).

Millionaire and gourmand.

But in addition to quantity, the quality of his consumption was important to Big Jim. Once, when visiting Boston, he sampled the product of a modest local manufacture of chocolates. "Best goddamned candy I ever ate," announced Brady, as he polished off a 5-lb. box of assorted chocolate creams, French bonbons, and glazed walnuts. When he wanted to order several hundred additional boxes of the candy to send to his various friends and acquaintances, he was told that the merchandise was in short supply. "Hell," said Brady, taking out his checkbook, "tell them to build a candy foundry with twice their capacity. Here's the money." He proceeded to write out an advance of $150,000 to be taken out in trade.

On another occasion, Brady was dining at Rector's when a member of his party began talking rapturously about the splendors of filet de sole Marguery--as prepared only at the Cafe Marguery in Paris from a secret recipe.

This new dish immediately became an obsession with Big Jim, and he refused to rest until he could enjoy the fabled fish on a regular basis in New York. He threatened to take his business elsewhere unless Charles Rector was able to come up with the secret recipe.

The next day, Rector's son George was pulled out of Cornell and prepared for a difficult undercover mission. Under an assumed name, young Rector began by washing pots at the Cafe Marguery, and slowly worked his way up to the position of apprentice chef. After months spent under the watchful eyes of his masters, Rector was finally admitted into the inner circle which knew the secrets of the special sole and its priceless sauce. After more than 2 years in Paris, he was able to sail for New York with the knowledge demanded by Diamond Jim.

Brady was at the dock to meet young Rector when he arrived. "Have you got the sauce?" Diamond Jim bellowed while the vessel was still out in the river. That night, Jim fully indulged himself after his long wait, finishing 9 portions of the sole and sopping up the last bit of sauce with a piece of bread held between 2 bejeweled fingers. When he went back to the kitchen to congratulate the chef, he said he guessed that "If you poured some of the sauce over a Turkish towel, I believe I could eat all of it."

For years, Diamond Jim went on defying the dire predictions of medical experts, until he finally developed serious stomach trouble at the age of 56. His career as a fabled eater was over, but he lived on for 5 more years until his death at the Shelburne Hotel in Atlantic City in 1917. A postmortem on his body performed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore showed that his stomach had been expanded to a size 6 times larger than normal. Jim left much of his fortune to the James Brady Urological Clinic which he had established at Johns Hopkins.

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