Dallas chef and former Top Chef contestant John Tesar has landed a book deal with Macmillan's Flatiron Books division, Eater can exclusively report. The working title of the book is Knife: Modern Steak and All American Meats. While Tesar has been a longtime industry veteran — and even makes an appearance in Anthony Bourdain's game-changing memoir Kitchen Confidential — Knife will be Tesar's first cookbook. "I have an obligation to work hard on this because I've waited so long to do it," Tesar tells Eater, adding that he wants his journey as a chef to come through. "I've grown and matured, and that should be part of the book."
The book's current title refers to Tesar's hit Dallas restaurant Knife, which is known as much for its steaks (some sold by the inch) as for being the birthplace of Tesar's now-legendary feud with Dallas restaurant critic Leslie Brenner. Per a press release, Knife "will be a celebration of American steak; an exploration into modern, self-sustaining Texas ranching; and a trip inside the mind of one of the most distinctive and acclaimed meat chefs in the world." Meat fanatic and longtime food writer Josh Ozersky is on board to write the book with Tesar. Dallas photographer Kevin Marple will be photographing.
"I have an obligation to work hard on this because I've waited so long to do it."
Tesar says that the book will offer a combination of recipes from his restaurant and recipes that have been modified to suit the home cook. Still, he thinks his cooking philosophy will translate well into the home kitchen. "My food is very simple," Tesar says. "I'm a pragmatic chef and I don't fuss food." He also says that the emphasis his restaurant places on sourcing and on solid technique will come through in the book. "The home cook should get something meaningful and valuable out of it... and I want to be able to inspire my peers and future chefs, for them to see something noteworthy." Tesar adds that Ozersky will be helping to translate his voice as a chef into the pages.
It's been something of a whirlwind year for Tesar. Aside from opening Knife and his headline-making spat with Brenner (to whom he will dedicate no words in the book), he's developing a television show he says will be focused on cooking ("we need quality and integrity") and has major expansion plans in Memphis and North Carolina. Just yesterday he landed on the semifinalist list for the 2015 James Beard Awards for Best Chef: Southwest for his work at Knife. He also has plans for additional books: a seafood-focused cookbook he had been working on has been put on the back-burner as he works on Knife. Tesar also hopes to someday write The Life and Times of Jimmy Sears (the name Anthony Bourdain used for him in Kitchen Confidential), but for now that's just an idea. For now, Tesar is focusing on the task at hand. "I'm just blessed to have this opportunity and I want this to be something special."
Knife: Modern Steak and All American Meats is slated to hit shelves in spring 2017.