World Chefs: Award-winning Gale Gand chef meditates on the midday meal

Tue May 27, 2014 9:30am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 Dreams.”

“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.   Continued...