The sensory thrills of fine cuisine have long compelled Laurent Tourondel. After graduating at Saint Vincent Ecole de Cuisine in France, the talented French cooked his way through some of the world’s most esteemed kitchens.
At Cello, the elegant townhouse on the Upper East Side, he amassed a series of stellar accolades, which propelled him into the public eye. When the restaurant closed its doors, Tourondel continued to create – penning a cookbook, Go Fish, and opening BLT Steak in 2004. The modern American Steakhouse garnered so much praise that he was bound to expand. Expand he did, creating BLT Fish, BLT Prime, BLT Burger, BLT Steak in Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, and the nascent BLT Market at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park.
1. How does your childhood in France have (or still) influenced your style of cooking ?
I spent my childhood on the coast of France fishing with my grandfather and baking by my grandmother’s side or coaxing rich flavor out of cocottes of braised rabbit or quails with raisin and foie gras. All those smells and tastes have definitely led me towards cooking and are still very influential. France is where I learned to cook and the foundation for everything I have done since then.
2. Why did you come to New York ? How hard or easy was it ? What did you find here ?
I was offered a great job as executive chef of C.T. (Claude Troisgros). I actually left and came back several years later, after traveling in South America, Asia and Africa to research new tastes and new flavors. I have to confess that it’s been great to work here in New York!
3. What made you decide to open a steakhouse ?
I have always loved the American concept of a steakhouse but I wanted to put a twist on it by adding bistro inspired dishes as well. My idea was to offer something simple but wonderful for the palate.
4. According to you, do New Yorkers have a specific palate? What are they fond of? Is there a difference with Parisians' taste?
NY diners are very sophisticated and they are also adventurous. It’s hard to shock them. I like cooking for this type of audience. Parisians eat very traditionally, I think - very well, but mainly French.
5. Do you meet and share your experience with other French chefs in New York?
Yes, indeed. I like meeting with other French chefs - it's fun to talk about what's going on in the French community here in New York!
6. Can you give us your favorite French addresses in New York?
Daniel, Payard, Le Bernardin.
8. What's next for you ?
Right now, I am working on opening BLT Market here in spring 2007 at the Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park as well as several other BLT Steak restaurants in Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Scottsdale.
Inspired by farm-fresh ingredients, the menu features delectable dishes to match the flavors of the season.
Ritz-Carlton, 50 Central Park South, NYC TEL: 212-308-9100
BLT Steak, NY
BLT Steak combines a bistro ambiance with steakhouse fare, where guests partake in creating the ideal BLT meal with very creative sides.
106E 57th Street, NYC TEL: 212.752.7470
BLT Burger is where the attitude is casual, the burgers are old-school, and the milkshakes are spiked. At this rough and tumble member of the BLT family, BLT Burger serves tender, 100% beef burgers on soft buns with all the burger trimmings you could desire, including the usual and the unusual suspects like cheese, bacon, avocado and homemade chili.
470 Sixth Ave, NYC TEL: 212.243.8226
With a 30-foot dry aging room and a menu boasting 20 different cuts of prime beef as well as lamb and veal, BLT Prime is the ultimate carnivore’s locale. Savor entrees like American Kobe Rib Eye served with house-smoked sea salt and Braised Veal Osso Buco with Mediterranean hints of orange…
111E 22nd Street, NYC TEL: 212.995.8500
Located in an elegant townhouse in Manhattan’s Flatiron district, BLT Fish emphasizes the delicacy of seafood. The upstairs menu features an assortment of whole roasted fishes and composed fish dishes, accessorized by a mix of sides. For more casual dining, visit the BLT Fish Shack on the first floor of the townhouse, and relax like a true sailor. A raw bar boasts ten varieties of shellfish including periwinkles, clams and oysters while other specialties include a luscious clam chowder and Shack staples like crispy Fish and Chips.
21W 17th Street, NYC TEL: 212.691.8888