Grady Spears, a real-life cowboy turned chef,
has been putting his own special signature brand on
the flavors of the Southwest for well over a decade
(Restaurants and Institutions magazine named him
one of the rising stars of 1998). He’s the author of
four cookbooks, A Cowboy in the Kitchen, Cowboy
Cocktails, The Great Steak Book and most recently
Texas Cowboy Kitchen: Recipes from the Chisholm
Club. Passionate about Texas and his restaurants—
The Chisholm Club in Fort Worth, Nutt House
Restaurant on the square in Granbury, Texas, the
soon-to-be-opened Burning Pear in Sugarland,
Texas, and the Roadrunner in Las Vegas—Spears
has established himself as a true Southwest icon,
cowboy boots and all.
Q: What are the common threads running through
most Southwest cuisine?
A: Chiles are number one. Southwestern cuisine is
always made up of bold, spicy, fresh foods that have
a lot of flavor and don’t need to be touched a lot.
Q: Fundamental to the cuisine is the combination
of corn, beans and squash. What’s your favorite way
to present these foods?
A: For corn, it’s barely cooking it. I like to roast
squash. As for the beans, drunken beans would be
my favorite. These are beans with beer, bacon, ham,
cilantro, onions and other flavors. The rule is one
beer for the beans and one beer for the cook.
Q: What’s the most misunderstood aspect of
A: Southwest food is not necessarily hot or spicy;
it just means that it’s full of flavor, using a lot of
fresh ingredients that are indigenous to this area.
Q: Your ideal West Texas cowboy meal
A: A great piece of beef, roasted whole with kosher
salt and black pepper. Then Dutch oven potatoes
with dried fruit, spoon bread with chorizo, roasted
asparagus with blue cheese butter or green chili and
cheese grits. All of this would be served family-style