Last June, Gregory Gourdet grabbed the James Beard crown for America’s Best New Restaurant. (Yes, Portland Monthly called it: nine months earlier, we deemed his Haitian restaurant “a game changer.”) The Beard award was apparently a mere coffee break for Gourdet. At age 48, he’s carved his initials into America’s food landscape as an original voice and unstoppable force. Overlooked for years, the Portland chef behind Haitian-modern Kann is now his own multiverse of personal cuisines, health-obsessed philosophies, and unapologetic branding (yes, that’s him in the Finish Quantum dishwasher detergent commercial). He has cooked at Oprah’s house, modeled in Gucci for Esquire, and turned up in social media feeds—shirtless and action-star buff—after sharing his secrets to shedding 40 pandemic pounds with People.
Two years ago, Gourdet tried his hand at recipe writing. Some four hundred pages later, his autobiographical Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health emerged. It’s part drug-hazed Bourdain-esque chef’s tale, part wholesome cooking revolution, and it nabbed Beard’s 2022 General Cookbook award, besting heavyweights David Chang and Nigella Lawson.
What’s left to conquer? Home cooking. Yes, the cooking multihyphenate had not previously conquered his own kitchen. Seriously. As Portland Monthly has learned, Gourdet has inked a six-figure deal with Ten Speed Press to pen The Weekday Table, a kind of CliffNotes guide to his bold, wholesome, and global dishes. The tentatively titled work is slated for a late 2025 pub date. Talented New York writer JJ Goode, whose bio reads “I help great chefs write cookbooks,” has signed on as collaborator.
The backstory: during the pandemic Gourdet was stuck inside his 900-square-foot NE Portland apartment, for months on end. Turns out, the two-time Top Chef finalist and culinary auteur was daunted by his basic home kitchen. It was a brutal epiphany. The upshot—no cool sauces, marinades, or pickles at his fingertips. No kitchen team; no TV studio pantry; no mise en place. Just Gourdet, cooking on the fly, with gumption and prayers on an off-the-rack stove, like the rest of us schlemiels.
Now, he’s here to tell the tale, 125 recipes in tow.
As with Everyone’s Table, global flavors will reign. Dairy, gluten, and refined sugar are still kicked to the curb. What’s different this time? No epic shopping guides, no in-depth directions, and no “how to use this book” thesis. Promises Gourdet: every recipe will max out at one-page long, and each dish will be ready to roll, start to finish, in one to three hours.
That might mean tahini-glazed, spice-roasted whole carrots (no need to peel, we’re in the fast lane now!) or a shortcut guide to Kann’s signature peanut butter–creamed greens (hint: we’re not making homemade peanut butter).
Expect lots of spice secrets and kitchen hacks, including a one-pot butternut squash soup simmered with chilies, ginger, and super-ripe plantains. The garnish: a tangy, five-minute pickle of green apples and shallots. The book’s No Fuss BBQ Chicken flashes a “no cook sauce” fashioned from good old ketchup, black pepper, honey, and chipotle powder. Gourdet says he slathered it on nearly everything during the pandemic.
Also of interest: a coconut cream pie minus the dough-rolling anxiety. The crust is merely pressed into a pan, then crisp-baked, the filling sets in the fridge, and the topping is a quick whip of fresh berries and jarred jam. “No one should fear making a pie,” says Gourdet, with his shy giggle. I might actually cook out of this book.
“I never cooked at home, ever,” admits Gourdet. “On my one or two days off, I went to restaurants.” Compounding his pandemic situation, Gourdet, a marathon runner, was nursing a serious knee injury. “It was a stressful time,” he says. “I gained all this weight. My health was deteriorating. I needed to figure out how to eat well on a Wednesday night, without a prep crew. What shortcuts could I use? That’s how this book was born.”
He chronicled challenges and successes in a notebook, which led to chapters like “A Year of Soups,” “Eat More Fish,” and “The Glory of Rice and Beans.” He dug deeper into the cuisines of Africa, tracing where the diaspora has gone around the world, expanded his Southeast Asian food repertoire, and expressed his longtime crush on Middle Eastern ingredients. Meanwhile, he test-drove ideas for his forthcoming Haitian-forward Kann and its pan-Caribbean basement bar, Sousòl, creating shortcut versions for home.
The book’s mission statement was born. Writes Gourdet: “I’m determined to look beyond the breezy standard that populates American food publications, which even now still lean European.”
Gourdet is inspired by cookbooks that transport us to a different place but also connect us in a larger sense. His go-to is In Bibi’s Kitchen, an invitation into the cooking spaces of eight grandmothers in Eastern Africa. “Some of the recipes are only three ingredients,” he notes. “They show us that food is such a common denominator. A lot of cuisines are not too far apart, yet they teach us different methods.” Hence, The Weekday Table’s Nigerian spinach stew, a super-quick West African favorite made with everyday ingredients … peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.
Head notes in Weekday Table hope to convey not what merely inspired a flavor combo but the who and the why. For Gourdet, food, culture, and historical context cannot be separated.
“We need to know where food comes from in a historical context,” says Gourdet. “What group brought this ingredient, what ethnic movement caused the mash-up of ideas that created this dish. Oftentimes, due to colonialism or slavery or indentured servants moving to different parts of the world, a new dish is born. These stories are important, even in simple recipes.”
Writing a cookbook is a mad pursuit, with its obsessive attention to measurements and timing. He’s already plotting his third cookbook, telling me “It’s a deep regional exploration of Haitian food, the book that’s going to change my life.” And he’s already scheming a memoir down the road. Hell, I wouldn’t rule out a TV show. Back-to-back media projects while running an insanely popular restaurant? That’s fuel for the therapist’s couch. But don’t tell Gourdet.