Too Many Cooks was the first episode of the eighth season of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 174th overall series episode. Directed by Charles S. Dubin, the episode was co-written by former executive producer Larry Gelbart and Dennis Koenig (who collaborated on the story & teleplay) W.C. Heinz, Richard Hooker, Ring Lardner, Jr.., who all were co-writers for the 1970 M*A*S*H* film, who were uncredited, also contributed as writers on the episode, which originally aired on September 17, 1979.


The 4077th receives a patient who is a bumbler at the front but a regular gourmet in the mess tent. The surgical staff try and convince Potter to keep him, but he flatly refuses. He has enough trouble as it is, as he thinks his marriage is in danger.

Full episode summaryEdit

Private Paul Conway (Ed Begley, Jr.), a clumsy and inept soldier, shows up as one of the wounded at the 4077th. He turns out to be a gourmet chef whose request to be made an army cook was denied. While recovering from his injury, he is temporarily assigned to the mess section and cooks gourmet meals from unexpected sources (such as "Spam Parmesan", "Chipped Beef Wellington", and "Powdered Eggs Benedict"). The 4077th staff love his cooking and try to get him made an army cook permanently. Colonel Potter is not interested, distracted by a letter from his lonely and frustrated wife Mildred, begging him to come home. Klinger, serving as temporary company clerk while Radar is on leave, struggles with his new assignments and decides to work closely with Conway, reinventing the mess tent as a high-end establishment called "Chez Klin'ger."

While all the others are enjoying a meal at "Chez Klin'ger", Potter wonders loudly why Conway hasn't been discharged, as his injuries have been treated. Hawkeye and Margaret raise the possibility that the Army may have truly assigned Conway wrongly as an infantryman, but Potter, still distraught over Mildred, hears none of it and demands for Conway to be released back to the front.

Later, the crew decides to place a call to the Adjutant-General's office about reassigning Conway without telling Potter. They are unsuccessful, however, and Potter intercepts the call and angrily tells the A-G, his friend General Budd Haggerty, to drop the whole matter.

Haggerty (played by John Randolph) decides to visit the 4077th personally to find out what's wrong with Potter. When he arrives, he is treated to some of Conway's sumptuous offerings. The MASH gang then makes one last attempt to make Conway a cook and get him reassigned to the 4077th. The plan somewhat backfires - General Haggerty tastes Conway's cooking and, by his authority as A-G, changes Conway's MOS on the spot. Conway is immediately reassigned as an Army Cook but, instead of staying at MASH, Haggerty wants him on his personal staff. Conway is appreciative, but requests instead to be returned to his old unit as a cook to make up for all the mistakes he made. Haggerty begrudgingly grants the request to the chagrin of the MASH crew, but asks Conway, "Do you deliver?"

The 4077th's original cook resumes duty and the unit suffers the loss of Conway's talent. Colonel Potter, however, is thrilled to bits, since he has received a new letter from Mildred admitting that she is merely frustrated by the great distance between them; though she misses him terribly, Mildred admits that she is very proud of her husband and wishes him well until his service is over. Everyone (even Major Winchester) is moved to tears by Mildred's letter.

Later, back in the Mess Tent, the staff are bemoaning another dreadful meal by their regular cook, when Klinger appears with a plate of something that smells vaguely edible. The others taste it, and to their surprise, find it to be delicious. Asking if it was a CARE package from Conway, Klinger says he just used one of Conway's recipes and made some changes. He calls it "Goat A La King", much to the mutual disgust of the staff.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • This is probably the first time that Hawkeye, B.J., Margaret and Winchester work together when they plot to have Conway made into an army cook.
  • Even if the AG wanted to, there is no way he could have changed Conway's MOS on the spot like this. Conway would, at the very least, need documented credentials and a change in his 201 file.
  • After hearing Mildred's letter to Col. Potter being read by Margaret, B.J. tells the Colonel he should "marry that woman." Hawkeye says, "If you don't, I will." and B.J. retorts, "No, then she'd be Mildred Pierce." Mildred Pierce was a 1945 melodramatic film starring Joan Crawford.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

External linksEdit

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