Interview with Sam Gorenstein of BLT Steak at the Betsy Hotel, Part Two
BLT Steak's Sam Gorenstein
NT: What do you think of picky eaters?
SG: Part of my job is to accommodate every person who comes in the restaurant and make them happy. For me, there's not really a picky eater.
NT: At which temperature do you prefer your steaks served?
SG: Medium rare. It starts to break down a little bit, but it's still nice and juicy.
NT: What's your favorite cut?
SG: New York Strip. It has texture and flavor. I like rib eye, too, but sometimes it can be too fatty for me. The filet is the most popular steak here.
NT: Do you think there are too many steakhouses in Miami right now?
SG: Definitely. We are very different from any other steakhouse that is open right now. Even though we have 18 other restaurants across the world, we are very chef-driven. We accommodate here. We pay attention to details. We strive to get the best ingredients available.
NT: Have you been to the other steakhouses in town?
SG: Some of them. I won't say any names. The other steakhouses aren't as good as we are, but they are there.
NT: The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is this weekend. What is your involvement?
SG: We are doing Burger Bash, Best of the Best and several events on the roof. Chef Laurent is doing an after-party here, and many celebrity chefs will join us.
NT: What is your submission for Burger Bash?
SG: It's a cheddar BLT burger with applewood smoked bacon and tarragon Russian dressing. This year we are going to take the prize.
NT: Does your youth get in the way of you being taken seriously as a chef?
SG: Not really. You get respect for what you do back there in the kitchen. It's all about what you do.
NT: Do you have cougar customers who hit on you?
SG: Sometimes. I wish it happened more frequently, but it doesn't happen that often.
NT: Are you single?
SG: No. I have a girlfriend, but I'm not married yet.
NT: Do you like a woman who orders a big steak?
SG: I like a more refined woman. But sometimes I like the aggressive woman who goes for a big steak.
NT: Which foods do you consider sexy?
SG: That's a phrase that I refer to a lot in the kitchen. When my guys are cooking, I say, "You've got to make it look sexy." It's not so much about the ingredients but making the plate look sexy. I am a minimalist. If you are working with high-quality ingredients, there's no need to pile the plate with 200 different ingredients or bury them in sauces. I believe in going clean and elegant.
NT: What are some of your favorite restaurants in Miami?
SG: I like street food a lot. I go to very simple places like El Palacio de los Jugos. I go to Garcia's Fish Market to get a nice fried fresh fish. I go very low-key. I don't go out to dine in style on South Beach. I crave fried foods.
NT: How did you get into cooking?
SG: My love of cooking came from watching my mother cook at home. I graduated from high school and went straight to culinary school. Then I went to New York, which is the Mecca of restaurants. That's where my eyes really popped open and I fell in love with the industry.
NT: How does your Colombian heritage inspire your cooking today?
SG: Every now and then I use Spanish ingredients in my cooking. Not too much, though. I'm more influenced by French, classical techniques.
NT: You worked with Michael Schwartz, who is also nominated for a James Beard award. What was the best thing he ever taught you in the kitchen?
SG: The love of using local ingredients. It's a big point as to why he's so successful. He goes for everything local he can get his hands on. I took a lot of that with me. It's good when you can support the local economy. And there's nothing better than food that comes from your backyard. Why not use that versus something that has been traveling for two or three days?
NT: Where is the oddest place you've cooked?
SG: About a year ago, I was on vacation back home in Colombia and we went to an island off the coast. It was like a deserted island. We put together a fire in the middle of the beach and cooked fresh fish.
1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
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