Laurie Graupner settling in as head of Seagar’s kitchen
July 10, 2017
By Michelle Farnham
MIRAMAR BEACH – One of the most awarded fine dining establishments in our Gulf Coast foodie scene is Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood. Heading up the kitchen of the AAA Four Diamond restaurant is Executive Chef Laurie Graupner, who was promoted to the position from sous chef earlier this spring. Graupner took a few minutes to answer some questions between dinner shifts at the prestigious Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort eatery.
Tell us about your culinary training.
I have been cooking for more than 15 years, but I have been drawn to the culinary arts my whole life. Kitchens (professional and household) are my favorite rooms in any building. I feel at home in a kitchen. I have been trained by incredibly talented culinary professors and chefs. I first joined the Seagar’s team five years ago as a part-time line cook under the leadership of Chef Dan Vargo.
What inspired you to get into the culinary arts?
When I was a child, I would travel to California to visit my grandparents and my grandfather would watch cooking shows during my stay. We would sit together and he would talk to me about the things he tried to make at home – he was incredibly passionate about preparing food. After my grandfather passed away and I graduated from high school, I wanted to do something that would make him proud of me; that is when I enrolled in culinary school.
How many cooks do you have working in your kitchen?
We currently have six station cooks as part of our Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood team. Each member has a designated specialty in the kitchen and some transition between stations throughout dinner service.
How does it feel to be one of the few female executive chefs in the area?
I am very proud of my accomplishments and the hard work put in to achieve the role of executive chef.
Other than salt, what is your must-have spice?
Whether it is black pepper or white pepper, it is an essential spice in many of our recipes for Seagar’s. To ensure the best flavor, we grind whole black peppercorns every week so that the flavor does not weaken and is always fresh.
Coming from Wisconsin, what is your favorite Florida ingredient?
I love the freshness of the ingredients we can get with our extended growing season and mild winters in Florida. From locally-grown produce to the freshest seafood year round, we can get the best products available to create amazing dishes for our guests.
Can you give us any hints about the fall menu?
I love the flavors that fall brings and we’ll be excited to highlight seasonal flavors and possibly some different types of game on the menu.
What do you enjoy doing on your days off?
I grew up in Wisconsin with vast farmlands around me and very cold winters, so any downtime I have you can find me enjoying our beautiful Gulf Coast beaches or sitting poolside brainstorming new dish ideas.
– Photos courtesy of Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood.