in partnership
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Chef Lenny the Lizard and his ghostwriter, Valerie Musser, create beautiful and delicious recipes together (Image: Valerie Musser)

Meet Lenny the Lizard, Cle Elum's own Up-and-Coming Chef

If you are a regular reader or watcher of Seattle Refined, you know we love sharing stories about amazing animals who live in our community. We've introduced you to Bunny a dog that talks and Darrel the Doge, a pup who skateboards. And it's not just dogs - we've also spent time with a miniature 'meow-er' named Potato who kicks his legs like a rabbit.

But we've never met a pet who likes to cook - until now. Lenny the Lizard is a central bearded dragon who lives in Cle Elem with his 'ghostwriter' Valerie Musser. Musser had been working as a chef, but when the Pandemic hit, she pivoted - helping her pet lizard, Lenny, write his first cookbook. Since then, he has become a celebrity chef of sorts. Refined caught up with the dynamic duo.

Seattle Refined: Hey Chef Lenny and Valerie Musser. You guys are joining us from your kitchen in Cle Elum.
Valerie Musser: It’s nice to see you too.

We want to talk to you about the new cookbook Chef Lenny has written - it’s called ‘Chef Lenny: Cooking for Humans’ and Valerie you are his ghostwriter so we’ll let you do the talking. How’d this come about?
Well, I was a chef for twenty years, and I was about to start my own at home catering business right before COVID happened. So I was just like 'What if I make the cookbook with Lenny as the Chef?' It would be far more exciting than having me as the chef. Because you know - it’s a lizard!

How would you describe the recipes you guys feature in the book?
Some of the ones in the book [Chef Lenny: Cooking for Humans] - we have like a Turkey Stroganoff and Sweet and Spicy Salmon and New Zealand style Carrot Cake.

I’ve been scrolling through your Instagram account and I’ve seen lots of good food there too. White Bean Sausage and Kale Soup, crustless quiche, omelette - even bread. Does Lenny have a sweet tooth - because I noticed there’s lots of sweet treats too including scones, hot cross buns French Napoleon pastry, pie, croissants...
I think I live vicariously [through these recipes] - I am gluten intolerant, so a lot of these foods I don’t get to eat but I have fun making them!

Are all these teeny tiny meals - real?
They are for human consumption - they are full sized recipes. They are between two and eight servings so it’s all good old fashioned comfort food.

Being a celebrity can mean a ton of photo shoots - does Chef Lenny enjoy dressing up?
He like looks forward to it. He’ll climb up to his little kitchen and everything it’s pretty adorable.

I know he's been featured in media outlets all over the globe - I was wondering has fame puffed up his chef’s hat?
He has definitely gotten more snobby by the day.

What does Lenny like to do when he’s not in the kitchen?
He does have a little art collection going on in his enclosure - he has an Monet, he has a Matisse-inspired painting and a couple still life [paintings]. His favorite thing to do is to [look at the window] watch the chickadees and the nuthatches eating at the feeders all day long.

These have been strange days to say the least - what has the response to Chef Lenny been?
Oh it’s awesome. I love being able to give people something to look forward to or enjoy. I love to be able to give something back to my community in that way. Since I can’t you know - give them food!

What’s Chef Lenny’s recipe for success?
Keep it simple! People over complicate recipes all the time.

What's next for Chef Lenny? Merch! You can find Chef Lenny stickers on Etsy. For more 'Lenny the Lizard' check out his official Instagram account @whosagoodlizard. And his cookbook is sold through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other retailers. It's also available here.