Arts in Wyoming: Chef Cindy Brooks Nourishes Inspiration
Sometimes, what fuels art is as easy to see as the Wind River Range, or as tricky to pin down as grace.
Other times, art is made possible by something far more tangible, and no less vital—like a plate of food. Chef Cindy Brooks knows this better than most. As head chef at the Ucross Foundation, home to a renowned artist residency program settled on 20,000 acres of Wyoming ranchland, Cindy seeks to inspire every artist that finds refuge in Wyoming with the help of the sprawling landscapes around her.
“The biggest thing I get from Wyoming is just wide-open space and room to move. Room to breathe… Every day is different,” Cindy said.
Cindy has lived around the world but has practiced her culinary art at Ucross for over a decade. “The artists are amazing. It inspires me every day,” said Cindy. Inspired by her time at Ucross, Cindy knew it was time finally embark on a project she’d been thinking about for years.
“We’ve had so many residents over the years who have requested recipes, a cookbook,” she said, “and we finally had the time to do it.”
In 2022, Cindy released her first cookbook, co-authored with her friend and Ucross alumna Cree LeFavour, The Ucross Cookbook: Cooking for Artists on a Wyoming Ranch. It was “a combination of a lot of years and a lot of work,” said Cindy. The book, though, is so much more than a collection of mouthwatering recipes. Featuring landscape photography and guest essays by acclaimed Ucross alumni like Sigrid Nunez, Karma Mayet, and Ann Carlson, the book is an homage to Wyoming, and all the ranch inspires.
“Food isn’t scary,” Cindy said. “You can create, you can produce, and it can be a really fun process.” Plus, anybody who gets to dig into what you whip up “is going be very happy.”