Almost no one on Yellowstone could be characterized as “chill,” but that’s the perfect word to describe chef Gabriel “Gator” Guilbeau, who plays himself on the Paramount Network drama — while also working as the show’s head of craft services.
Guilbeau has been working behind the scenes on Yellowstone since the series debuted in 2018, and he made his on-camera debut that year as the Dutton family’s private chef. In true Yellowstone fashion, his entrée into acting came in the spur of the moment.
“I had only known [Yellowstone cocreator] Taylor [Sheridan] for maybe a month at that point. Not very long at all,” Guilbeau exclusively told Us Weekly while promoting his new Yellowstone cookbook. “I remember him telling me that he was gonna put me in the show, and then I remember him yelling at some construction guys saying, ‘Hey, I need you to build this cooking station.’ And he designed it in his head on the spot in, like, two minutes. That’s how his brain works.”
Sheridan told the crew they had six hours to build an outdoor stove for what Guilbeau describes as a “miniscule” scene. They completed it in five and a half hours, and Guilbeau got to work.
“The concrete was still wet on this thing,” he recalled with a laugh. “Taylor threw me in front of the camera and he said, ‘OK, go.’ And I said, ‘OK, go?!’ He goes, ‘Yeah, just, you know, do Gator stuff.’ … I was like, ‘Well, I guess I’ll just start making dinner and they can just film that.’”
Guilbeau’s low-key approach was apparently just what Sheridan envisioned, and he returned again as a minor character in season 2 — this time with lines. “It just made sense after that,” he explained. “And it didn’t hurt that I’m the only actor who’s always on set because I’m already there, and I’m always in costume. It’s a win for everybody.”
It also helped that a veteran like Kevin Costner was willing to give Guilbeau some pointers. “I remember him telling me to not so much change the script, but make it your own,” Guilbeau said. “Make the lines your own, have fun with it — don’t just read the lines and spit them out. … He’s such a wise old man, it’s very easy to trust him. And he’s very funny. He’s always been nothing but sweet to me.”
While fans wait for the second half of Yellowstone’s fifth and final season, they can try their hand at 55 original recipes from Guilbeau’s new book, Yellowstone: The Official Dutton Ranch Family Cookbook. These include dishes drawn from scenes in the show — Beth’s “Two Scoops of Ice Cream, Three Shots of Vodka” Smoothie and John and Tate’s Pan-Roasted Walleye — as well as recipes inspired by his Louisiana background.
“I was just never a recipe guy,” Guilbeau told Us. “I just knew how to make all these things. That was how I learned how to cook. I was able to put a lot of my staple dishes in here, and then there’s some recipes in there that I inherited from my grandmother. She used to have this tin of index cards or folded-up articles, just collecting recipes over many years. I was able to inherit that tin of recipes.”
Guilbeau’s go-to dishes include plenty of “comfort food,” which he says is always a hot ticket with the show’s cast members. “Kevin likes pot roast and meatloaf and apple pie, and Cole [Hauser] likes ribeyes and all other meat,” he told Us. “They’re all pretty straightforward. Kelly [Reilly], she comes in and eats with me, but she likes to keep it light. They’re really good. They’re not picky eaters.”
Guilbeau also noted that someone — if not the cast — usually eats the food he cooks on camera when he’s making dinner for John Dutton (Costner) and the family. “Especially if you see me cooking outside,” he explained. “I can’t tell you how many of those biscuits I made — and we still ran out of biscuits in the biscuit scene. … I’ve got all these biscuits for the scene, and then I’m looking around and everybody’s eating a biscuit. I’m like, ‘We’re gonna run out of biscuits, guys. You guys gotta slow down.’”
Yellowstone: The Official Dutton Ranch Family Cookbook is available now wherever books are sold. For more with Guilbeau — and his recipe for blueberry cobbler — pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands Wednesday, September 13.