The RANCH Renaissance: Q&A with Abby Reisner and Chris Santone
If you know anything about ranch dressing, you know that people's love for it isn't exactly...rational. True ranch heads have a fervor that dangles on the edge of evangelism—a rebellious righteousness that allows them to dip or drizzle this herb'y, tangy, creamy sauce on, well, just about everything.
In the course of creating Ranch: An Ode to America's Beloved Sauce in 60 Mouth-Watering Recipes, we met all kinds of ranch revivalists. In our office alone, we discovered condiment connoisseurs, 90s nostalgia junkies...and even a few haters. Needless to say, everyone was wowed by the fresh, DIY ranch recipes in the cookbook, regardless of if they love the bottled stuff.
But at the heart of this book was a pairing so perfect it almost gives pizza-ranch a run for its money. Meet author Abby Reisner and designer Chris Santone, the heart and soul of all things Ranch.
What are your favorite ways to eat ranch?
AR: On carrots! Every Tuesday night growing up, my mom and I would order pizza and eat carrots dipped in ranch (sprinkled with paprika) as "salad." And at the risk of offending the entire city of Buffalo, on chicken wings.
CS: Funny enough, I grew up in Buffalo—where blue cheese is a sacred condiment—and putting ranch on anything might as well be against the law. But today, my ranch use mostly consists of a plate of carrots, celery, ranch and bit of sriracha. Or sometimes I’ll splurge on a chicken-bacon-ranch slice after a late night out.
What recipe from the book did you find most exciting or delicious?
AR: The Ranch Fried Chicken is definitely the recipe in the book that excites me the most. Fried chicken is my kryptonite.
CS: I'd say the dressings themselves. After working on this book, I can vouch that homemade ranch dressing is legitimately delicious and the diverse application of the base flavors and spices shocked me and my taste buds.
Why were you drawn, personally, to working on the project?
AR: Ranch is not a neutral topic in the way that lampshades and nail files are neutral topics. So it was fun working on something that I knew was guaranteed to elicit some kind of reaction, whether it's one of visceral hate or true love.
CS: The project was an interesting mix of highbrow design and pop cultural references. Much of the visuals reference The Memphis Group, an Italian art and design group. I tried to take what they initially established as a movement and combine that with the stylization of shows/cartoons from my childhood to create a cohesive, ranch-filled world. Each chapter has a different theme and is based on larger 80s/90s movements such as fashion or the rise of mass manufacturing. I also added nods to pop culture like Ren & Stimpy, Animorphs, Power Rangers, Tom & Jerry, etc. I’ll let you try and find them all.
If you were throwing a ranch party, what would be essential to getting the vibe right?
AR: I had a set of Rugrats window decals growing up that I was overly attached to. I'd definitely want those prominently on display.
CS: I would ave a winter-themed party, because one of the most iconic 80s/90s fashion trends were ski outfits. Neon wind breakers, baggy knit sweaters, hammer pants, leg warmers… you get the idea. There would also exclusively be inflatable couches as furniture.