BYLINES BY SCOTT
UPLAND CHEF JUSTIN SMILLIE ON HIS FAVORITE SPOT IN THE HAMPTONS
Justin Smillie, chef-owner of NYC’s Upland, dishes on his James Beard award-nominated Slow Fires, his ingredients of the moment, and Montauk.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
My favorite ingredient is always whatever is at the peak of its season. The meat I’m currently having the best time with is duck. It is the pork of the poultry world, and offers a great amount of flexibility in cooking approach. In the fruit kingdom, it’s the almighty tomato. I love coaxing out its natural flavor, whatever the variety. Grilling, steaming, searing, or raw.
What was the most fun about writing Slow Fires?
The most fun or interesting part of writing Slow Fires for me was the self-discovery aspect—discovering where I have been as a cook and where I’m going.
What is the scariest thing you have ever done?
Life is full of uncertainty. Scariest, I’m not sure. Maybe when Jonathan [Waxman] asked me to be the chef de cuisine at Barbuto. Here is this legend calling me up. I had no idea what I was made of yet. But it all worked out in the end.
Why did you become a cook?
I was initially mesmerized with the speed and adrenaline of the kitchen, but over time it was the ingredients, the smells, and the discovery of flavor that kept me coming back. I always love somebody taking the first bite of something I have just cooked. It’s the thrill that keeps me going almost 20 years later.
What is your favorite tool of the trade? Cast iron skillet. Wooden spoon. Or my binchotan yakitori grill.
What is the Hamptons to you?
The Hamptons is freedom, possibility, sea breeze, escape, and a place where I can reset.
Your favorite summer cocktail?
Margarita! Where would we find you during the summer out East? Walking along the beach in Montauk in early morning. Or in front of a grill sharing food.
Favorite spot in the Hamptons?
Montauk, without question. I love the wild, untethered feeling of the beach out there.
Read the Article at Hamptons-Magazine.com HERE.