I believe I originally read this in a Literature or English textbook. I believe this was when I was in Elementary School, probably between 8-11, in the early 80's.

A con-man becomes the royal chef because he claims to be able to make Dragon Stew. Luckily for him dragons have become extremely rare, so his claim is never tested.

He has no skill as a chef, but the king loves to do so, so he basically just does exactly what the king tells him to do, or just lets the king do it.

One day, however, the royal hunters return with a dragon!

It is a small, pudgy thing, about the size of a large dog, with stubby wings. It is put in a cage in the kitchen, and everyone else is ordered out by the king, who then also leaves so that the chef's "secret family recipe" will be protected.

The chef begins to panic and cry which prompts the dragon to to ask what he has to cry about. He tells his story and the dragon admits to being a very skilled chef.

So the "Dragon Stew" that the chef takes out to serve the king, is then revealed to be called that not because it has dragon in it, but because a dragon made it.

Does anyone know where this story might be found? I thought it was titled "Dragon Stew", but the one that comes up on a search with that name appears to be about 5 bored vikings trying to drag a stubborn dragon back to make stew.

  • 1
    Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham also features a story where dragon tail is a traditional delicacy served in the king's court, only it's faked from other animals these days because dragons are rare and difficult to hunt.
    – b_jonas
    May 28, 2017 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


Dragon Stew by Tom McGowen

Summary from Goodreads review:

When a very picky gourmand king is looking for a cook-- every cook he has had has quit due to his interference in the kitchen-- a young man wandering by interviews for the job. The king is looking for a cook with a recipe he has never had before; the young man explains his signature dish is Dragon Stew, but he doesn't get much opportunity to cook it, as dragons are very seldom available. The king, entranced, hires the young man. The new cook's success is based entirely on finding out how the king wants his food cooked, and either following the king's directions or letting his majesty cook the dish his royal self. But when the king's hunters obtain a Dragon for the stew, what happens? Our clever manager-up produces a triumph and all ends happily for everyone.

  • Promising. It seems long for what I remember, but that length may be padded out with illustrations. May 26, 2017 at 18:31
  • @MichaelRichardson Yeah, seems to be essentially a picture-book (with a well-known illustrator). The publisher, Follett, is a big one and makes mainly text-books, so including it in one of theirs is likely.
    – eshier
    May 26, 2017 at 18:42
  • I've found the description on several other sites as well. This is the one. Now I just need to see if it is in print anywhere. May 28, 2017 at 5:42

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