Chef Biography

Bertie Varner was born in 1927 in Arkansas and considers herself more of a Texan than the folks who were born and raised in Texas.  She worked in restaurants in both Arkansas and Texas and is self-taught in “down home cooking”.

In 1976, she was working in a restaurant in Kerrville, Texas off of Interstate 10, when the owners of the Y.O. Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas offered her a position to cook daily breakfast, lunch and dinner for 35 of their ranch hands.  She accepted on the condition that no one would tell her what to cook, which was agreed upon. 

Her Chuck Wagon is a one story cottage in the middle of the ranch, and she cooks everything from scratch.  The busloads of visiting tourists have upped the number of meals from 35 to sometimes 120, but she knows what they like and she doesn’t need a staff of helpers.

In 1985, the Great Chefs television crew were taping a PBS series on Southwestern Cuisine entitled “Great Chefs of the West”, and they decided to include a down home cooking segment in each episode.  While taping the chef at Hilton’s Y.O. Ranch Hotel on I-10, he suggested that the crew check out their Chuck Wagon a few miles away.  Bertie Varner agreed, and four of her dishes were taped for episodes 1, 5, 7 & 9.


Ranch Beans

Serving: 8 to 10 Print Ranch Beans By Great Chefs November 10, 2015 These beans are on the ranch table every day. Simply flavored with bacon, salt, and pepper, they cook into a delicious side dish every time. These beans are a true taste of Americana, harkening back to early days in the Old West. […]

Chicken-fried Steak with Cream Gravy

Serving: 6 Print Chicken-fried Steak with Cream Gravy By Great Chefs November 10, 2015 The name of this staple of the South and the Southwest says it all — beef fried in the same batter cooks use for chicken. The cream gravy is part of the dish, and it’s usually served with a pile of […]

Jalapeño Corn Bread

Serving: 24 Print Jalapeño Corn Bread By Great Chefs November 10, 2015 Hot chilies and cheese separate this Southwestern version from ordinary corn bread. It’s the perfect accompaniment for roasted or grilled foods. Ingredients Jalapeño Chilies – 2, minced Creamed Corn – one, 17-ounce can Baking Soda – 1/2 teaspoon Salt – 1/2 teaspoon Sugar […]

Lazy Man’s Peach Cobbler

Serving: 12 Print Lazy Man’s Peach Cobbler By Great Chefs November 10, 2015 There are orchards of peach trees in the area of Texas surrounding the Y.O. Ranch, so it’s not surprising that ranch cook Bertie Varner would concoct this dessert, in which the spices nicely balance the sweetness of the peaches. It’s a quick […]

Fried Chicken

Serving: 8 Print Fried Chicken By Great Chefs November 10, 2015 Fried chicken holds a dear place in the heart of all Texans. This version creates chicken that is incredibly crisp, with moist and juicy meat. Ingredients Frying Chicken – 2, (2-1/2 pounds each), cut into serving pieces (reserve the backs and necks for making […]

Restaurant Information

Address: 1736 Y O Ranch Rd NW, Mountain Home, TX 78058
Add to Favourites