| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 27 Gale Gand, an American
award-winning chef, cooking teacher and television personality
is on a mission to make lunch the new dinner.
Tuna fish salad, grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly
are among the midday staples given a new twist in "Gale Gand's
Lunch!," the eighth book by Gand, who is co-founder of Tru, a
fine-dining restaurant in Chicago and former host of TV's "Sweet
"I sort of felt that lunch was the neglected stepchild of
all the meal periods," said Gand, whose recently opened Spritz
Burger, a restaurant that features soda, burgers, brunch and her
own brand of root beer.
From her home in Riverwoods, Illinois, the 57-year old spoke
about her love of casual cooking, how she thought she'd be an
artist until she found her calling in the kitchen, and her shelf
of French mustard.
Q: Why did you write this book?
A: I think we need help understanding how important lunch
is. The French get it. They get the two-hour lunch and then a
smaller dinner. We've got the opposite and I don't think it's
doing us any good to eat this big meal at night and neglect our
midday nutrition ... I think that there's room for lunch to come
into its own and the cooking grew out of that.
Q: Your restaurant Tru is fine-dining but your latest
venture, Spritz Burger, is a burger and soda joint. Why this
change of direction?
A: I'm still a partner at Tru but don't have any day-to-day
responsibilities. I joke about the contrast because Tru is kind
of a fancy-pants ... A regular Tru customer comes in just once a
year. That's considered often. A regular at Spritz Burger, my
little urban soda and burger joint, comes in once a week, so
you're really in people's lives. I think I needed to do fine
dining when I did it and I did it well ... But I just really
love to cook and it doesn't matter if it's upscale or a grill
cheese in the oven. I'm not a snob.
Q: Did you always want to be a chef?
A: Actually I went to art school and I said I was going to
be an artist since kindergarten. While I was at school I
waitressed and you can sort of predict this: a line cook doesn't
show up one night, they look at me, and throw me on the line to
cook ... I'm terrified for six seconds and on the seventh I felt
this weird sense of calm come over me, like I had found my
Q: Can you describe the pleasure cooking gives you?
A: It's entertaining. It's nurturing. It's drama. It's
dance. It's chemistry and physics. It's art ... There's this
pleasure in the hand-eye coordination and the gross and fine
motor skills that you're perfecting. And I love how the
ingredients react reliably. Every time you cream butter it
Q: How can the home cook invigorate lunch?
A: Something as simple as cutting sandwiches differently or
using two different colored breads and then flipping one so you
have two things going on.
Q: What's always in your pantry?
A: I went to France last summer and I bought mustard in
every city we stopped in. I have this huge mustard collection.
I have a shelf of pickle-y things, peppers and cornichons. And I
make my own jam, which is pretty easy to do and makes a peanut
butter and jelly sandwich much more special.
Pea & Garlic Dip (makes about 3 cups)
1 pound frozen peas, thawed
10 fresh mint leaves (optional)
2 medium cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place the peas, mint (if using), garlic, salt, pepper, and
olive oil in a food processor and process until well blended and
relatively smooth. The mixture will retain some texture, but
make it as smooth as possible. Taste and season with additional
salt and pepper as needed.
Serve immediately or transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill
until ready to serve. The dip keeps in an airtight container in
the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Chizu Nomiyama)