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Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney’s Resort & Spa
We checked in with Chef Chris Watts, the new Executive Chef at Gurney’s Montauk to find out his favorite cookbook, must-have seasonal ingredients, go-to dishes and more.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a happy father of two daughters Michelle Elizabeth and Madison leigh. I love to spend time outdoors with my wife Jessica and kids hiking and exploring mother nature. Love the ocean and surfing. Have a deep respect for farmers and artisans who perfect their craft and provide amazing products, allowing me to provide fresh and sustainable dishes
What inspired you to become a chef?
I used to watch Julia Childs with my grandmother and cook for my grandfather when I was young. After that it was the simple joy of traveling and enjoying different cultures and having the ability to communicate through food. I have spent a lot of time in areas where i don't speak the language,with food I was able to display my respect for the joy and help strangers have given me in my travels without having to say a word
How has your first summer in Montauk been?
Any special memories? Montauk is wonderful, I love the mellow small town vibe. A bonfire on the beach on the 4th of July was one of the nicest 4th of July holidays I can remember
What are your favorite seasonal ingredients to use as we move into the fall?
I love pumpkin, pomegranate, apples, late season sweet corn. Basically anything that is fresh and from a local farm.
How has your style evolved since your early days as a chef?
When i was younger i was intrigued by all of the new gastronomy techniques. As I began to understand the chemicals and health issues associated with them i decided it's more important to try and give my guest the healthiest, most sustainable products. Too many people don't eat what is growing near them. I feel its a chefs job to support the local farms and the people who live in the area by trying to source as many local products as possible with minimal environmental impact.The less my food travels the better!
Who was/is your biggest influence as a chef?
My Grandma Sandy
What’s your favorite cook book or the one cook book you recommend every at home chef have in their pantry?
Alice Waters “The Art Of Simple Food”
What advice would you share with aspiring young chefs?
Everyday you learn how to or how not to do something. Learn from it, keep pushing, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
What are you looking forward to this fall/winter in Montauk?
We hear there are some exciting things coming up! Being from California, I am looking forward to a little snow. I do look forward to seeing how quiet the town gets and meeting more of the locals as my children integrate into school and i continue to find local products. I also am looking forward to Big Sur Food and Wine as well as Nirvana Food and Wine in Scottsdale.
What are some of your favorite go to dishes on the menu?
The heirloom tomato and burrata salad from Foster Farms in Sagaponack with our made fresh daily focaccia is my favorite. I absolutely love fresh unrefrigerated tomatoes. They are sweet as candy and with a little basil oil, some aged balsamic,and a sprinkle of North Fork Sea Salt it is a perfect snack. I also like our Smoked Pork belly Lollipops with Maine blueberry compote and whistle pig maple syrup glaze.
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