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ANN CONWAY

In the Words, on the Minds of Celebrities

November 20, 1995|ANN CONWAY

Ask TV personality Robin Leach the secret to a successful holiday party and he starts talking turkey.

"For me, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving or Christmas without turkey and Brussels sprouts," he said during a visit last week to the Balboa Bay Club. Leach, who lives in the Caribbean, was in Newport Beach to promote his new "Healthy Lifestyles" cookbook.

"But cook the turkey slowly," advised the Brit who hosts the TV Food Network's popular "Talking Food" show. "Americans cook turkey too fast. I put my turkey in the oven the night before so that I wake up in the morning with my house filled with that wonderful aroma. Of course it has to be a big bird, 22 to 25 pounds."

Leach's appearance was sponsored by Round Table West, a nonprofit organization that showcases authors and their books.

Round Table guests earlier in the week included Barbara Cochran Berry--ex-wife of L.A. lawyer--Johnnie Cochran--and clinical psychologist Susan Forward, who counseled Nicole Brown Simpson during her divorce.

In his appearance, Leach toyed with an unlit Cuban cigar and talked about his lifestyle in Antigua.

"I was lucky to fulfill a dream of mine--building a home in the Caribbean," he said. And that is how his cookbook came about.

"Because I'm on a private island, there's no strip mall to run to. You have to be self-sustaining, so I planted an herb and vegetable garden.

"What I didn't know was, because of all the sun, water and rain, things grow very quickly. . . . You cut open a papaya, throw the seeds on the ground, and 30 days later you're picking fruit off the vine."

He looked for cookbooks that would help him utilize his crops. "But there weren't any," he said.

So he came up with his new book, which features celebrities such as Roxanne Pulitzer, Leeza Gibbons, Ivana Trump and Fabio sharing their health-conscious recipes. And some recipes of his own.

About that holiday party.

Leach recommends having a bottle of champagne--"the good stuff"--in the house. "You don't even have to drink it," he said. "You can just set it in a bucket on a little corner of your table. It makes everything more festive."

As for what to serve:

"You couldn't go wrong with my butternut squash soup recipe for a first course," he said.

*

Accepting a lift home more than 30 years ago turned into the bumpiest ride of her life, Barbara Cochran Berry told guests during her appearance last week at the Bay Club.

Author of "Life After Johnnie Cochran" (Basic Books)--an account of how she survived her marriage to the captain of O.J. Simpson's "dream team"--Berry spoke candidly to about 200 guests, mostly women.

"I was at UCLA and needed a ride," said Berry, a first-grade teacher in the San Fernando Valley. "I'd stayed late for a lab class, and Johnnie offered to take me home. Believe me, if I'd known then what I know now, I would have walked."

During her 17-year marriage (the couple married in 1960), Cochran "physically and verbally abused" her, she said.

When she made the decision to leave him, she related, Cochran told her that she would "never make it six months in the real world without my money."

"Well," Berry said, smiling at the crowd, "I tell everybody now that I've made it 17 years in the real world without him and his money."

She never planned to write a book about her tumultuous marriage, she added. But when Cochran called her a few months ago, asking her to deny some information contained in their divorce papers, she said, she knew it was time to tell the truth.

"He told me a reporter had found awful things about him in our divorce record," she said. "He told me he denied everything. And he told me to deny everything. He said, 'You will want for nothing if you will just deny everything.' "

Berry refused, choosing instead to share her story with the public. "There is life out there after being married to someone rich, powerful and abusive," she said. "I've written a success story.

"It took time for me to develop the courage I didn't even know I had. . . . One of Johnnie's favorite put-downs to me was, 'those who can't , teach.'

"But I never went running back. I hope my book is an inspiration to women. Gradually you get your life together. I knew things would get better--that I wasn't going to suffer the way I suffered when I was married to him."

*

Susan Forward--author of "Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them"--talked to guests about the controversy surrounding her public statement following the murder of one of her clients, Nicole Brown Simpson.

"I went public the day after Nicole's death with the fact that she was being stalked and threatened with murder because I've lived my life with the belief that evil can only exist when good people do nothing," she said.

"I had that story burning in my chest. I called the police," Forward said.

"The things I knew, I knew Nicole had told other people. The California Evidence Code very clearly states that if a patient tells any part of a session to any other person, privilege is waived."

Forward said she cautions clients in obsessive relationships to cut off all contact.

"Obsession is not what love is about," she told the attentive crowd. "Love nourishes a person's emotional well-being. It wants you to be the best you can. It doesn't scare you, make you walk on eggs. It doesn't keep you off balance, and it doesn't destroy your confidence or your self-esteem."

Privately, during luncheon, Forward confided that the best thing a woman can give herself is emotional independence.

"We all need the ability to navigate the waters of our lives, know we can manage whatever life throws at us. As long as you are fused to somebody you can't really love. I genuinely believe that.

"Sure, we need others. But not for a crutch--for joy, support, love."

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