Photo: Jonny Valiant
As the executive chef at restaurants with menu items that range from gourmet burgers and fresh ceviche to fresh pastries and côte de boeuf, Laurent Tourondel can whip up just about anything. So when it came to renovating an East Hampton getaway, his recipe was simple: “It needed to have plenty of natural light coming into the kitchen,” he says, “and a patio large enough for a big table, so when the weather is nice we can eat outside.
”It’s no surprise that the kitchen was a nonnegotiable space for the celebrated chef, who’s known for launching a string of high-end steakhouses called BLT Steak and, more recently, for bringing epicurean twists on all-American staples to his Sag Harbor–and New York City–based LT Burger. Tourondel, who grew up in France but now calls New York home, purchased the Hamptons cottage after 12 years of weekend trips to the area had him itching for a place that he could call his own. The shingle-style home he found just a few steps from the water needed updating, but it was a project the chef was excited to take on: “I was the contractor,” he says proudly. “Whenever I had free time I would spend it working on the house.”
His home, which he uses mostly as a place to entertain friends and relatives, had to be casual and inviting, so Tourondel chose shiplap walls, woodfloors, and white paint throughout—a complete departure from the loft he occupies in Manhattan. Quirky accessories he found mostly on eBay, such as pairs of oars and vintage skis, add rustic character. “I don’t like having anything fancy,” he says. “I want the house to feel homey.”
The kitchen, where Tourondel no doubt feels right at home, is modest in size, but its open shelving, bluestone countertops, and crown jewel—a beachy blue La Cornue range—make cooking meals for a crowd a breeze. “I don’t like to spend three hours in the kitchen when I’m here,” he says. “I’d rather balance my time between the cooking and the entertaining, so I can relax and spend time with people."
Accordingly, his meals here are rarely complicated—as long as they’re made with fresh, seasonal ingredients (produce usually comes from local farms) and accompanied by a cocktail, they’re served on Tourondel’s table. The chef’s signature lobster roll, prepared with a creamy blend of mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, curry, and herbs picked from his own backyard, is a favorite for quick meals.
“When I’m here, I don’t have any rules in cooking,” Tourondel says. “I wake up and have no idea what I’m going to make for dinner that day.” Oftentimes, he hopes, the idea will stem from a hobby the chef picked up from his grandfather when he was a child: “I’ll go fishing every morning when I’m here, and then I’ll plan my dinner based on what I caught,” saysTourondel. “But there’s no pressure—if I don’t catch any fish, I’ll just go to thefish market and buy it!”
Spicy Jalapeño Margarita
1 ½ oz Tanteo Jalepeño Tequila
½ oz Triple Sec
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Lime Juice
- Combine ingredients with ice into a shaker and shake.
- Strain onto a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
- Garnish with Jalapeño Slice with Lime Spiked and Mint Top