After we reported that Daniel Ganem has officially replaced Sam Gorenstein as chef de cuisine at The Raleigh, a Short Order reader commented that "Mario Tolentino is not at BLT Steak anymore," (that's embarrassing, thanks for the heads up to whomever "Mike" may be!) Gradually, several of our chef friends also contacted us with the rumor that the Tolentino was planning to move on, if he had not already done so, and thus, we began researching.
Although Tolentino is still listed as the chef de cuisine of BLT on their website, we have in fact confirmed that he is no longer in the kitchen. Having only taken the job about six months ago, we are surprised to hear the news.
The new top toque is Matthew Oetting, previously the executive chef at the Trump Soho Hotel in NYC. A press release from BLT's representation is imminent, but we did get the lowdown on his background and we were assured that Oetting "is excited to be working with Laurent Tourondel at Betsy South Beach's BLT Steak." Well, we certainly hope so. Not sure BLT Steak can handle being broken up with again.
He has worked for some of our favorite New York based restaurants,
ranging from the executive sous chef position under Scott Conant at
Scarpetta, to leading the line under Jonathan Waxman at Barbuto. He also
logged time at Union Square Cafe and the illustrious restaurant located
in NYC's Museum of Modern Art, The Modern, which is truly an amazing meal to experience. We just tried to eat there
twice without a reservation and failed miserably to even obtain a table
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in the bar lounge, so we are not alone in admiring the cuisine. Anyone trained by Gabriel
Kreunther is a-OK by us.
We have been informed that there are other exciting things in development at BLT Steak; stay tuned.