At the beginning of March, the next chapter in my life as a cookbook author took a big leap forward, as photography began on what I hope will be a pretty wonderful book. In December, chef and restaurateur Louis Lambert and I signed a contract with Ten Speed Press to produce the cookbook Big Ranch, Big City, which the publisher plans to have in stores in the fall of 2011.
Even though the ink has been dry for a couple of months, I’m reticent to talk about a book until you can see that it’s underway. When our photographer and friend Ralph Lauer began shooting the photographs, I could really feel this big project taking flight.
The book’s subtitle, “Modern recipes from the Lambert’s bunkhouse and urban kitchens,” gives you a better understanding of the book’s intent. Big Ranch, Big City brings together Lambert’s life as a ranch kid from West Texas (his family owns seven ranches out there, with some dating back seven generations) and his classical training at the Culinary Institute of Americ in New York.
Before returning to Texas Lambert worked for Wolfgang Puck at Postrio; in Dallas he worked at Café Pacific, and he’s worked at the Reata locations in Alpine and Fort Worth. Since then, Lambert has owned a number of restaurants in Austin and Fort Worth.
Today you can taste his cooking at Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, at two Jo’s Hot Coffee establishments in Austin, at Lambert’s Steaks Seafood Whiskey in Fort Worth and at Dutch’s Hamburgers, also in Fort Worth. In the cookbook, we’re focusing primarily on the food at the two Lambert’s locations, which Lambert calls “Elevated Ranch Cuisine.” It’s fine cooking blended with the comfort foods Lambert grew up on.
Fans of Lambert’s restaurants will tell you that his cooking is sensational, full of extraordinary flavor and texture. It’s pleasing to look at, too. Combine good food with the welcoming aesthetic you find at his restaurants, then add the dramatic visual touches that Ralph is capturing in West Texas — ranch scenery that unfolds clear across the Big Bend region of Texas — and we aim to have a cookbook that you’ll enjoy both reading and cooking from.
We’ll include roughly 40 food photos in the book; the rest will be scenic images from the Texas badlands. The photos on this page are from our photoshoot a couple of Sundays ago. We were at Lambert’s in Fort Worth, shooting biscuits and our pecan-smoked salmon.
It’s just the first taste of something that promises much more.
June Naylor is State Fare Editor of EscapeHatchDallas.