This recipe originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.

For our November 2018 “Feast Around the World” feature, we asked five of the state’s top chefs to create festive meals to serve this season. What we got was a cornucopia of global flavors. 

For her sophisticated feast, Denise Shavandy, the executive chef at Café Modern—the restaurant at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth—was inspired by the Persian and Turkish dishes expertly prepared by her mother-in-law. Below, find the star attraction of Shavandy’s “East Meets West” menu.

Sumac-Crusted Rack of Lamb With Sour-Cherry Sauce

Chef Denise Shavandy designs her “East Meets West” feast around a beautiful main course with a Middle Eastern influence.
Servings 6 people


  • 1 rack of lamb, about 3 to 4 pounds, frenched (have butcher do it)
  • ¼ cup ground sumac
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 quart lamb or beef stock
  • cup sour cherries and juice (see note)
  • cup light brown sugar
  • cup zinfandel
  • cup ruby port
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove lamb rack from fridge about 30 minutes before prepping. 
  • Combine sumac, salt, and pepper, and rub into lamb. 
  • Preheat a heavy-bottomed pan, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. 
  • Add oil and sear the fatty side of the rack until it browns and the fat begins to render.
  • Transfer the rack to a thick-bottomed shallow pan and finish cooking in the oven, fat side up, until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • When done, transfer to a platter and let rest at least 10 minutes.
  • Pour the stock and cherry juice (reserving cherries) into a small saucepan and stir in brown sugar, zinfandel, and port. 
  • Bring sauce to a simmer and reduce until thick and syrupy. Add cherries and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to use.
  • To serve, cut rack between each bone, arrange chops on a platter, and drizzle with sour-cherry sauce. Serve atop the Minted Zucchini Bulgur Pilaf.


Sour cherries are available jarred at Middle Eastern markets and Central Market; get the ones in light, not heavy, syrup. You can substitute pomegranate juice.