I’ve been in Fort Worth more than two years now, but still have moments of feeling conspicuously alien—or Meatless in Cowtown, so to speak. While I love the individualism, the incredible confidence, and the can-do attitude so ever-present in my new home state, I was feeling a little grumpy about Texas the particular week that I got the assignment to interview cowboy chef Grady Spears about his new cookbook for the newspaper. I knew one thing about him—that cowboy chefs cook meat, and lots of it. I gave myself a pep talk: I need to be open to new experiences. He likes the outdoors, I like the outdoors. He likes food, I like food. I decided to come clean with him right away, but was bracing myself for a potentially awkward interview.
Turns out that early in his career, Spears cooked in a macrobiotic restaurant. And since then, he’s had many vegetarians show up in his restaurants. Before our interview began, he took the Grady’s menu and picked out several vegetable dishes that not only had no meat in them, but no stock, either, adding that he gets requests for meatless all the time. And shortly thereafter appeared a meatless feast—spinach salad with blue cheese; grits; grilled fresh tomatoes; and a jicama and carrot slaw; the plate was crowned with a few spears of battered and deep-fried fresh asparagus. He chatted about how the peaches were bad this summer, and about how the asparagus was really good. We talked about how his mom is putting an herb garden in behind the restaurant for him to draw from, and about his passion for sourcing local produce (and, naturally, meat). Grady’s is the kind of restaurant that’s a perfect venue for friends and family who want Texas cowboy food—it’s a high-quality and inventive take on the real thing, but vegetarians will be well taken care of, too. Don’t you love it when someone surprises you?