Important Austin restaurant Odd Duck co-owner and chef Bryce Gilmore and the rest of the restaurant team always wanted to publish a cookbook based on the restaurant’s quirky ethos, from the highly seasonal recipes to the philosophy of using Texas ingredients to the characters driving the establishment. And now, that goal is finally here with the publication of The Odd Duck Almanac, now available as of this week.
As an annual cookbook-slash-magazine-slash-almanac, Odd Duck Almanac is “more of a reflection of the restaurant than myself,” Gilmore told Eater, crediting the entire staff. “It’s not a normal cookbook,” he explained. “The almanac reflects what I want our style to be here: fun and interesting, not too serious, but done well.”
The only requirement for content: relative to the restaurants, food, cooking, and farming. The bright and vibrant book is full of goofiness, busy with illustrations (Brock Caron) and photography (Richard Casteel), and just fun elements. There’s a zodiac chart pairing astrology signs to sauces (the theme of the issue is sauce), quotes from vendors and staffers alike, an essay by Odd Duck partner Mark David Buley about bread, a pull-out comic strip detailing the trailer days, and, yes, the oft-used image of Gilmore riding a tiger triumphantly is there too.
A good chunk of the book is, though, dedicated to seasonal recipes. The list of ingredients are listed in formats more familiar to professional chefs rather than home cooks, i.e. measurements in weights rather than sizes, which was an intentional choice. “Let people see how we do it,” Gilmore said. This lends itself more towards how he uses cookbooks himself, as inspiration rather than mandates. “You have to be able to adapt,” he often tells chefs.
Gilmore sees this almanac (his preferred description for the annual book) as a “stepping stone,” much like how the original Odd Duck trailer lead to the physical restaurant on South Lamar Boulevard. He said that there’s a traditional cookbook focused on the restaurant in the works within the next year or two. He also teased that the restaurant will announce something big next year, which will come into being sometime in 2021.
Yes, Gilmore did draw inspiration from his father, acclaimed chef Jack Gilmore, who self-published his own cookbook Jack Allen’s Kitchen: Celebrating the Taste of Texas. Independent Austin publisher Cattywampus and editor Veronica Meewes (who is an Eater Austin contributor) approached Bryce Gilmore about the then-potential book.
“It’s a very noisy and busy world out there,” Gilmore said, “especially in Austin with all the growth.” The book offers a different way for people to engage with the restaurants, besides eating. It’s also a way to keep people engaged with the restaurant throughout the year in a different, exciting way, besides eating.
As for now, the book will be available for purchase at all three of the restaurants (Barley Swine, Sour Duck Market), as well as via online. One of the subscription tiers includes newsletters, which Gilmore sees as quarterly sneak peeks into the next edition, with stories and perhaps recipes. Another level will feature two or so smaller magazines with themes like mayonnaise or pickles.