Gale Gand, a founding partner of Tru, releases her newest cookbook, Gale Gand's Lunch!, today. A sequel of sorts to Gale Gand's Brunch! (2009), the book offers options to home cooks daunted by the dinner party.

We checked in with her on the eve of publication.

Why lunches?

My family is all musicians. I cannot have them over for dinner; they have gigs at night. The easiest time to have them over for a meal is lunch. So I started having lunch parties. So easy. Lunch became how we socialized. You don’t have to hire a sitter. It’s not as expensive. It’s a shorter period of time.

Some of the recipes have a lot of ingredients. And some are quite elegant, like Parmesan-crusted tilapia with cucumber, tomato, and relish, or the smoked-salmon Caesar salad.

True, but there are family recipes, too, like matzo ball soup. Lobster rolls, Rustic Ratatouille Tart is more like a ladies’ lunch.

And a lot on peanut butter and jelly?

PB & J is, like, two pages because I thought of all these variations—how to grow it up a little bit. The possibilities are endless. And there are so many variations of grilled cheese. I could do a whole restaurant.

We know about your collaboration with the Hearty Boys at Spritz Burger. What else have you been up to lately?

Michelle Obama started a program, the Chefs Move to Schools initiative. I was invited to the White House and got to hear her speak about this. Gio [Gand’s son] became a freshman [in high school] that year. I worked with the lunch lady and helped change some choices. I also taught French through food. I taught vocabulary by doing a cooking demo class. French for “butter” and “whisk,” par exemple. I taught physics, as in how to make meringue. How protein and air hook together. I taught in the outdoor venture class—outdoor chili on a camp stove. I was also in the cafeteria doing demos—Thai summer rolls. The kids made them. It was a hands-on demo. And I got to spy on Gio at the same time and make sure he was going to class.

What did you think of inserting food into the students’ curricula like that?

The kids have a coach, a music teacher, an art teacher. They should have a chef. They should have the feeling that someone is watching over their nutrition and caring about it.

Buy a copy of Gale Gand's new book at