Skokan's book is more than just recipes, though; it also includes a history of his entry into the world of farming, descriptions of how he raises his animals in a sustainably and humanely way, and how the seasons affect the food that makes it onto plates at his restaurants. It's written simply and thoughtfully, with easy-to-follow recipes that range from at-home kitchen basics to advanced-level techniques that Skokan manages to make approachable.
Skokan says it was a surprise and a thrill to find out he'd been nominated for the book award. "I'm really a chef and a farmer," he explains, adding that he was pleased with the results of his first writing effort. Still, to be listed among some of his favorite writers definitely took him aback. "It's like a stranger sees you throwing a baseball and three days later you're in the Major Leagues."
Among the other finalists, Skokan points to Heritage, which delves into the Southern cooking of Appalachia and South Carolina, as one of his current favorites. "I read Sean Brock's book and thought it was spectacular," he says.
Skokan would like to write a second book, but he's currently busy prepping his farm for the growing season. "Right now I have planting on the brain," he notes. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are going in the ground this week and onions, carrots and beets are scheduled for next week. Skokan drives the tractor himself during the planting, which will eventually provide thousands of pounds of produce for his menus.
Whether he's being recognized in the field of food writing or is literally working in his field, Skokan's efforts are getting noticed by professionals and diners alike.