Lenny, a one-year-old central bearded dragon, can be seen with tiny pots of soup, miniature biscuits, and dinky cheeses in his debut book ‘Chef Lenny: Cooking for Humans.’
The cookbook was the brainchild of Lenny’s owner Valerie Musser, a chef and lizard lover from Redmond in Washington state.
“It was my quarantine project,” said Valerie, a mom-of-three who ran a small catering business before the pandemic hit.
“I’d been writing a cookbook for about 10 years but never really had the time to sit down and sort through it.”
With quarantine, Valerie suddenly found herself with the surplus of time she’d be looking for. Before long, she’d bought Lenny the lizard a little chef’s hat from Etsy. “He actually loves wearing hats and posing for photos,” she said, “so I started making miniature food for him to show off with.”
All the miniature food in the book is real and the dishes are Valerie’s favorite comfort foods that she serves to her family, with chicken pot pie, blueberry muffins, and home-cooked tacos all featuring.
“Initially I posted a few pictures of Lenny cooking on Instagram and the feedback was so positive, people were writing things like, ‘this made my day’ and ‘this really cheered me up,’” Valerie explained, “so I realized that people actually needed this.”
Valerie said that Lenny has the perfect personality to be a chef. “He is very pretentious,” she joked. “His body language is kind of crazy, he wants what he wants, he’s very demanding and he’s kind of a snob about food, very fussy, so this project fits him very well.”
In fact, Lenny won’t even eat from a dish but prefers to be hand-fed.
Lizards are very expressive creatures, Valerie explains. They can dream and have nightmares and they use their body language to convey their feelings. They’ll change their coloring if they are angry or cold, “and if the tips of their scales go orange it means they are super happy.”
The 134-page cookbook is available on Etsy and Amazon with the option of bespoke dietary alterations on request.