Marc Forgione could use a vacation. But not for the reason you might think.
Though the Michelin Star chef and partner at LDV Hospitality is certainly busy -- he just opened his second New York outpost of American Cut and is already planning to open another, in Atlanta -- Forgione says travel is crucial to his creative process. In fact, he chalks up some of his greatest culinary creations to his time on the road. His infamous chili lobster, for instance -- a staple at American Cut -- was conceived after a trip to Singapore.
We caught up with the Iron Chef and talked to him about his favorite travel destinations and the one place he's eyeing for his next restaurant opening.
ShermansTravel: We hear you're opening an American Cut Atlanta location. What made you decide to open there and when will that open?
Marc Forgione: I think Atlanta is one of the fastest growing food cities in the country. The opportunity presented itself to American Cut and they asked us [LDV Hospitality founder John Meadow and myself] to come down. As soon as we arrived, we knew it'd be a perfect fit -- the location is perfect for our American Cut clientele. I’m excited to be down there. The restaurant is slated to open this summer.
ST: Where did you take your last vacation and what did you do there?
MF: Napa Valley to visit my parents. When I visit them, I always take the opportunity to check out the wild stuff they have growing near their house that I also get from my foragers at the restaurant: wild mustard flowers, arugula, etc.
ST: Do you cook on vacation? At home?
MF: Yes, I'm always cooking but when I travel I like to take the opportunity to try new restaurants so that I can really experience the food that a place has to offer.
ST: Some people take cooking classes on vacation, do you ever meet with the chefs and try to learn new things during your leisurely time away from the kitchen?
MF: I usually learn just as much by eating in the restaurants as I do being in the restaurants' kitchens. I really like to sit down and enjoy my meal like everyone else and, sometimes, the dishes I have will inspire me for new ideas to use in my own cooking.
ST: Besides your own home, where is your favorite place to wake up?
MF: Arbron Villas in Anguilla.
ST: What and where is your favorite non-U.S. restaurant and why do you love it?
MF: La Ferne Aux Grives, which is a Michel Guérard restaurant in France; my favorite dish there is the suckling pig.
ST: How have your travels influenced the menu at American Cut, if at all?
MF: I always pick up fun tricks and ideas when I travel. At the end of the day, that’s what America is: a melting pot. For example, the chili lobster I serve at Restaurant Marc Forgione, American Cut, and a version of a sandwich at Lobster Press is based off of Singapore crab, which I got to try when I was over there years ago.
ST: If you could open a restaurant anywhere -- where you haven't already -- what city would you choose, and why?
MF: Calistoga, California. I would love to be able to use the produce from the farm my younger brother Sean works in.