Chef Spotlight: Interview with Laurent Tourondel

Burgers and Shakes for Sag Harbor

Even celebrity Chef Laurent Tourondel whose empire includes 11 restaurants, like L’Amico and BLT Steak, in six cities, such as New York, Miami, and Hong Kong, recognizes the serene siren call of summers along the East End of Long Island. So much so that it was Sag Harbor that he settled on when he decided to open his old school, American burger bar, LT Burger.

Of the Hamptons hamlet, he says, “I fell in love with the village and also the space for the restaurant.” While sharing a morning coffee with Hamptons Monthly chef Laurent told us more about the menu, sparing no details on one of our favorite parts – dessert!

With your impressive roster of high end restaurants in big cities, why were you drawn to the quieter atmosphere of Sag Harbor?

I thought it would be a good opportunity to maybe have a restaurant where I have a house. I fell in love with the village and also the space for the restaurant.

The menu at LT Burger is your simplest. After years of perfecting fine dining, was it a challenge to pare things down?

It was a bit of a challenge to go from fine dining to the burger thing but I thought it was fun. Something that was interesting to research about and understand the American way of how to build a burger.

What are some of the other classic American dishes on the menu that you had fun playing around with that you didn’t ever expect to come across in your culinary career?

I have several things. One of them I think was the waffle fry. I thought that was kind of cool to do. Another one was the milkshake. I thought that was the most fun part, figuring out different flavors and how can we make them a little bit creative and fun. Fun for the adult and fun for the kids.

Which burger on offer is your personal favorite and what are we pairing it with? Fries? Onion rings? A Cherry Cow float?

I like a burger and a beer. And in this case, it’s the Route 27. It’s a caramelized onion, peppered bacon, and it’s like a smokey ketchup on it, and then we use a local cheese the Mecox cheddar.

Was incorporating local ingredients something you felt strongly about?

Yeah, very. Eggs come from the farm, tomatoes come from the farm. We do a strawberry shake also with fresh strawberries.

The dessert options are nothing short of drool- worthy but there’s one we have to ask about: the American Puff milkshake – a concoction of vanilla ice cream, Cocoa Puffs, and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. What made you think to couple those kid favorite flavors?

Actually, my staff came up with that, not me. I think they were playing a little bit and then they made me taste it and I’m like wow, what an amazing thing.

What do you think the future holds for LT Burger?

There is no plan so far to open LT Burger anywhere beside keeping the original one. Which I would like to keep it this way, actually. And then, I’m going to do a pizzeria in Sag Harbor, also. And it’s probably going to be April or May of 2018. Very simple again; same kind of concept where, pizza, gelato, and salad.