Playboy Mansion chef says Hugh Hefner ate the same meal every day for four years
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"Let's say you get to experience one of Playboy's parties. The very next day, you're going to call one of your friends and say, 'oh my gosh, I went to Playboy, I saw this, I did this, I drank this'. You will forget to say 'I ate this'."
Some foodies might disagree, but let's be honest - you think Playboy, you don't always think: 'ah yes, the home of good food'.
Having worked as a chef for Hugh Hefner, JJ Reinhart knows people weren't coming to the Playboy Mansion for the buffet spread. But his eight years there still allowed him a chance to gain a rare insight to the inner workings of Playboy, and its creator, Hugh Hefner.
Having started out in 2002 as an intern in his early 20s - because "who wouldn't want to come to work at the Playboy Mansion?" - Reinhart rose through the ranks to become Chef de Cuisine at the home run by Hefner.
He was among nine chefs who worked full time at the mansion, where the kitchen was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The chefs created Hef's every meal, cooked up anything guests wanted, and catered extravagant parties.
Throughout his time at the mansion, Reinhart became very familiar with Hef's eating habits and his favourite foods. Despite having millions of dollars under his belt, the publisher liked things simple and would typically choose his dishes from a 'standard menu' of just 26 items.
He had the same meal for breakfast every day for at least four years - a 'very, very simple English muffin' - until he threw the chefs a curveball one day and requested scrambled eggs.
"I'm like, okay, you've been eating the same thing for the four years that I've been here and now you want those, okay, that's fine," Reinhart said. "So we make some scrambled eggs."
A sudden change was an uncommon occurrence in the Playboy kitchen, because while the items on Hef's menu weren't 'very extravagant', Reinhart admitted Hef was 'very specific on how he liked things prepared'.
He recalled one occasion when Hefner called down to the kitchen about a sandwich Reinhart had made him, telling him he'd cut it the 'wrong way' and he needed to 'make sure that it's done right'.
Not wanting to upset his boss, Reinhart strived to ensure Hef's food was always perfect - so much so that he would cook two dozen turkeys the day before Thanksgiving, convinced at least one of them must be right.
"He would always eat the turkey leg," Reinhart said. "I would cook 24 turkeys, just to make sure that I had a perfect one."
Thanksgiving was the only meal Hef ate around others in the mansion, according to the chef. Apart from that, he was a 'private eater' who took all of his meals in his bedroom, with the food delivered by butlers like Bryant Horowitz, who had the privilege of seeing what went on 'behind the scenes'.
Just because hardly anyone was around to see the food doesn't mean the chefs could be any less precise for Hef, though.
The staff would pick out 'all of the perfect potato chips' for their boss, as well as the two centre pieces of bread in a loaf, because those were 'the softest pieces'. The rest went to feeding other people, thankfully - not in the bin.
Even when he went out, Hef ate a home-cooked meal.
"If he was going out to eat, we prepared his food for him and sent it along with him," Reinhart said. "And then as he showed up at a restaurant, a big paper bag went right into the kitchen with specific instructions on how to prepare his meal, how to plate his meal."
It sounds like a lot of effort, but Reinhart says he didn't mind.
"He was such a great boss that we did things like this, because we knew it was his expectation, but it was never an issue for us to do this for him," he told UNILAD.
Reinhart's view of Hef comes in contrast to some of the allegations made against the publisher in the years following his death in 2017.
Last year, the docuseries Secrets of Playboy accused Hefner of having 'destroyed a lot of lives', with models and former Playmates claiming Hefner had drugged and raped them.
During his time in the mansion, Reinhart claimed he 'never saw [Hefner] grope any girls' and described him instead as the 'perfect gentleman'.
"All of my friends that are Playmates.. they all speak very, very highly [of Hefner]. I think it's very disappointing that all of this has come out and since he's passed away, he can't defend himself," Reinhart said.
The chef credited Hefner with creating a 'big family' among the staff at the mansion, which included housekeepers, maintenance staff and even animal keepers working at a zoo on property.
The publisher had seven girlfriends while Reinhart was working there, and on weekends he invited his friends over to watch a movie - 'classic' movies on Fridays and Saturdays, and current movies on Sundays.
"So Sunday nights, there was usually a pretty big crowd," Reinhart said. "On top of that, you know, everybody knows about the parties that he threw, probably six or seven parties a year, whether it was different holidays, different events."
As an employee, Reinhart wasn't allowed to join the parties Hef threw at the mansion, but guests he had invited had 'free run' as he welcomed them inside.
Hefner evidently sought to impress when he brought people into his home - especially the ones he invited to live there.
Reinhart alleged Hefner's girlfriends 'never had jobs' because the publisher 'took care' of them, and the first thing they did when they moved in was 'go out and pick out a new car'.
While the opportunity to get a fancy new ride might have been true at one point, one of Hef's former girlfriends, Melissa Howe, said that wasn't the case when she entered the mansion.
Melissa also disputed Reinhart's claim that the girlfriends were 'free to order food whenever they wanted to' in the mansion, as she described being instructed on what times they could eat dinner, as well as where and when to place themselves about the mansion at hours of the day.
The chefs crossed paths with Playmates coming in to Hef's home from some of the other mansions he owned when they were scheduled for photoshoots.
"A lot of times they would stay down the street, but they were always allowed to come into the mansion, especially to get food," Reinhart said.
"It was kind of funny because we would see these girls come in before the photoshoot [and] they're eating very, very healthy, lots of salads, grilled chicken.
"Then you knew when the photoshoot was finished when all of a sudden, [the models were like] 'give me a hamburger, give me French fries'," he claimed.
Though the Playboy Mansion gave Reinhart 'an opportunity to grow' as a chef, he eventually came to realise that food was not necessarily what people remembered from their visits to the property.
"Somebody off the street couldn't say, 'hey, I want to go to Playboy Mansion because I hear Chef JJ's making a great lamb chop, or a great steak. I knew for my career, I had to move on."
It was a 'tough decision' after years on the job, but Reinhart eventually left when given the opportunity to move to Hawaii for a new role.
Now, he works as executive banquet chef at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, where he's able to cater for thousands more people than he ever was at Playboy.
His career has come on in leaps and bounds, but he'll always be thankful for his time at the mansion.
"The chefs are some of my best friends," he said. "And we all credit Mr. Hefner for bringing us all together."
UNILAD's new Stripped Back series is released from May 1 and takes us back into the Playboy Mansion, featuring interviews with a variety of people who spent time working and living there with Hugh Hefner.