Exclusive: 'Yellowstone' Chef Gabriel 'Gator' Guilbeau Discusses His New Cookbook Inspired by the Series

He's made a career cooking on some of the most star-studded Hollywood sets -- now he's the author of the official 'Yellowstone' cookbook.

Chef Gabriel "Gator" Guilbeau doesn't just play the Dutton family chef on the smash-hit neo-Western drama Yellowstone — he's a real-life chef who started his Yellowstone career as a caterer on the set.

His unexpected acting gig came as he was cooking up chicken soup dumplings — a favorite of the cast and crew — behind the scenes at the show's rural Montana location. Series co-creator Taylor Sheridan took notice of Guilbeau and offered him a role in front of the camera.

"I'd never acted before," said Guilbeau, who goes by "Gator" in real life, too. He admitted to "shaking in my boots."

During his tenure on the series, Guilbeau served up fan-favorite one-liners ("That's how you make a f**kin' biscuit" "What's gluten?") as well as his delicious Western-style cooking — typically brought to the table at the height of an awkward conversation.

He's also an ambassador for a line of Yellowstone brand food products from FoodStory Brands and Paramount Consumer Products that are now available at grocery stores across the country. And he's the author of a new cookbook titled Yellowstone: The Official Dutton Ranch Family Cookboo, which is currently available for pre-order.

"For me, it's deeply meaningful to partner with FoodStory Brands on the launch of Yellowstone cuisine, as I'm not only head of craft services for the show but also the on-screen chef for the Dutton family," he said. "I am thrilled to be part of the launch and beyond as an ambassador of this new line. Yellowstone has an exceptional culinary point of view with authentic Western cuisine, and I'm excited to share it with our fans."

The line of Yellowstone Western cuisine will have you eating like a Dutton for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They've got Yellowstone Coffee (including Bunkhouse Medium Roast and Ranch House Dark Roast), Yellowstone Seasoning and Rubs (including Cattleman Steak and Cowboy BBQ), Yellowstone Angus Beef Chili, and Yellowstone Meat Snacks. All are available at Walmart, Kroger, Amazon, H.E.B. and select Safeway and Albertsons stores, with many more retailers to come. Later this year, Walmart shoppers can get their hands on Yellowstone Breakfast Meats such as Bacon Breakfast Sausage Links and Thick Cut Bacon.

Guilbeau's cookbook will be available Sept. 12 and features mouth-watering dishes from the hit series. He's compiled 55-plus simple and delectable recipes, from Rip's Fry Bread with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon to Beth's "Two Scoops of Ice Cream, Three Shots of Vodka" Smoothie.

Guilbeau spoke with Wide Open Country about his life, forthcoming cookbook, and career as a chef on some of Hollywood's most star-studded sets.

Wide Open Country: What sparked your interest in cooking?

Guilbeau: It all started with eating. I was the eater, and there were a lot of great cooks in my past. Both my parents were really good cooks. I was always the kid at the table that wasn't picky and ate everything. I was eating boiled crawfish at 3 years old! I think that's the ultimate basis of being a good cook or chef is understanding what's going to taste good. I started really cooking in my early teens. We would do a cookout at my dad's house on the weekends and we would eat steaks. That's what we still like to eat. And that's what we would do, bust out the grill and cook a ribeye. My dad started putting me in charge, and I became more comfortable making Cajun food, as that's what I wanted to eat. I started to do that at potlucks, fundraisers at schools, and realized that's what I wanted to do, and people were really interested in what I was doing here and thought maybe I should do this all the time.

WOC: What sets Yellowstone brand foods and beverages apart from other options on the shelves?

Guilbeau: It gives our viewers and fans another way and level to connect with the show, on top of them being high-quality products. It's just something that touches people right in their hearts. One of the reasons Yellowstone has become so popular is because we're depicting what so many regular people in America do, every day. I think feeling like they're more part of the show is more valuable than anything.

WOC: Obviously, the ranch setting of Yellowstone inspires each dish in the cookbook. What other inspirations have you drawn from?

Guilbeau: A lot of it is based on what's been very popular over the years cooking for movie crews. Stuff that worked every time, that could feed a lot of people. And then there are some other recipes from before work started, from when I was growing up as a kid. Stuff that we would eat on a Sunday BBQ, or going on camping trip, family reunions. There's a really nice cross-section of the recipes in the book with all those levels of different inspiration.

WOC: If you could cook for anybody — living or dead — who would it be and what would you cook?

Guilbeau: I've been very fortunate to get to cook for a lot of idols in life, big celebrities and close friends. But if I could cook for my late grandmother just one time, I'd be pretty excited. I never got to cook for her, and I know that would be the greatest critique I'd ever get. And, I know that's the most nervous I would ever be cooking. She's who I learned to eat from, and attribute the reasons I can make some of the things I make as well as I do to her. She was renowned in the family and in the Lafayette community as the best cook in town. That was a fact. It wasn't a rumor — the rumors were true!


WOC: Which of the Yellowstone products coming to stores is your favorite and why?

Guilbeau: The beef jerkies we have coming are really exciting to me, and I'm snooty about beef jerky! There's a Wagyu Beef Stick in particular that was so good, I could even eat more after I ate 10 sticks for a photo shoot.

WOC: How did you get the nickname Gator?

Guilbeau: I was definitely the weird kid growing up in Southern California and being from Louisiana. I was popular, but definitely not normal in that I liked to go fishing, hunting, and go swimming in the swamps and catch alligators. So, they started calling me Gator Gabe in high school, and that stuck for some time. I even dressed up like an alligator for a homecoming parade! It actually was also a major part of me developing a strong foothold in the craft services industry. I started with my given name for a little while but quickly realized everyone was calling me Gator, so I just went no last name, just Gator there on out. Then I ended up doing one of my first movies by myself, where there just happened to be a scene where they were butchering an alligator. So they brought me the one they butchered in the shot so I could cook it for the crew. And I ended up making a very luxurious alligator sauce piquante, which is like an alligator stew. That really drove it home. That solidified it. That's Gator! That guy that makes all that food? That's Gator.

WOC: Do you have a favorite recipe from your cookbook and why?

Guilbeau: The first recipe I wrote down is Chicken and Dumplings, and that recipe will never fail you — you will win every time. For our fan base and viewers, that Chicken and Dumplings is going to be a heavy hitter. But I also love the Corn Maque Choux, another vegetable dish. It's hard to choose between the two, but it would probably depend on the weather. Corn Maque Choux is a pretty special dish, as I can vividly remember my dad making it, and can make it strictly from those memories of watching him make it. It's delicious, because we love corn where I come from. I don't care if you think it's a starch or a vegetable — it's a vegetable to us! I also really like sides that are mains.

WOC: What are some challenges you ran into while writing your new cookbook?

Guilbeau: The biggest challenge is that for the better part of my career, I don't use recipes! Everything was in my head, by memory and by taste. In fact, one of the things I prided myself on was that I didn't use recipes. So transferring over quantities was a huge challenge. Many of them I had to approach from my memory and then measure and test from there. It's very different to put pen to paper, in that I'd never written anything down before. A few recipes in there are straight out of my grandmother's recipe book, which I'm proud she trusted me with.

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