Milton Williams, who provided culinary creations for some of Hollywood's best-known hosts, has died of cancer.
The 62-year-old Williams, author, decorator and "caterer to the stars," died Friday at Queen of Angels-Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.
For nearly 40 years, starting with a dinner party for actor Edward G. Robinson, Williams was one of the area's most sought after caterers. As his reputation grew so did his scope and at one point he was traveling to the East Coast to prepare dinner for clients in New York or Washington. He once catered a party in the Middle East.
Known for his ability to prepare all his food on the spot, Williams began catering in an era when the kitchens and dining rooms of Beverly Hills and Bel-Air were as large as the town houses which became home to an increasing number of parties in recent years.
Asked in a Times interview in 1982 why he didn't simplify his procedures and bring prepared dishes to his clients, he said he simply "liked to smell the food cooking."
His parties ranged from $500,000 spectaculars for 500 guests to the lavish but intimate gatherings he hosted himself in his hillside home.
Born in Los Angeles, Williams learned the culinary arts at what was then Frank Wiggins Trade School (now L.A. Trade and Technical College).
An early benefactor was Rella Factor of the cosmetics family who not only helped him set up his first business but introduced him to her famous friends.
His attention to detail and devotion to California cuisine (even when he traveled he took along local produce and meats) brought him to the attention of the State Department and overseas assignments followed, including the decorating of several embassies and diplomats' residences.
At one point he owned restaurants in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs and employed more than 25 people.
His "Party Book" was published in 1984 and continues to be a popular handbook for those entertaining on limited budgets.
Willias, who for many years raised funds for a tutorial center that helped slow learners and recent immigrants, will be eulogized Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Church of the Recessional, Forest Lawn, Glendale, after a private funeral service.
Survivors include a brother, sister and several nieces and nephews.