Warm up with Seagar’s Winter Offerings

It may be unusually cold here in our little corner of paradise, but Chef Laurie Graupner of Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood is cooking up some warmth to help brighten your new year. We recently caught up with her to get an idea of what’s in store at Seagar’s for 2018.

Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood Executive Chef Laurie Graupner

What do you want guests to know about the winter menu? The winter menu is one of my favorite menus to create. The flavors of apple cider, cranberry, and maple heighten memories of “family time” during the winter months. There’s something inherently comforting about the holidays, and so I always strive to implement those ingredients in our recipes at Seagar’s.

What role does local-sourcing of products play when it comes to crafting the fall/winter menu? We are very fortunate to be in area that has a variety of fresh products available year-round with our extended growing season. Our state has an abundance of fresh, local produce and seafood that we utilize on a daily basis.

Walk us through the process of crafting the winter menu? When crafting the winter menu for Seagar’s, I look at what is in season and the traditional flavor profiles in the winter months. With that information on hand, we then examine how we can make each dish unique and enhance the Seagar’s fine-dining experience. I constantly experiment with the flavor profiles and textures to see what works best and might be unexpected, yet classic. I continue to brainstorm ideas until the recipes are well-crafted to suite a guest’s expectations at Seagar’s.

What role do regional/national trends play in the fall/winter menu? Our main focus at Seagar’s is on using as many seasonal and local items available as we can. At our core, we are a traditional steakhouse, and our guests expect the dishes to be classic and refined with a hint of surprise.

Seagar's Prime Steaks and Seafood
Crab cakes from the Winter menu at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood

Seagar’s is known for an impressive, award-winning wine list. How does that factor in to crafting the menu? With the wine list having over 600-labels to choose from, it makes my job as executive chef easier — we have a fantastic wine pairing for every dish created in Seagar’s.

How does your personal food/culinary background play into crafting the menu? With 14 years of experience in the culinary arts, I’ve held a wide array of positions in the industry, training and studying alongside a diverse group of chefs. Originally from Menasha, Wisconsin, I moved to Florida to broaden my culinary skills, relishing the opportunity to experiment with the state’s abundant and accessible fresh, local produce and seafood. Moving to Florida opened a whole new world of culinary possibilities for me and heavily influences new and innovative ideas for the menu.

You’ve been executive chef of Seagar’s for almost a year now…what is something you’ve earned in the role during that time? I first joined the team at Seagar’s five years ago as a part-time line cook under the leadership of Chef Dan Vargo. After years of hard work, I earned the title of Sous Chef, and now Executive Chef of Seagar’s. During my time at Seagar’s, I’ve come to learn that respect is earned, not given.

Seagar's Prime Steaks and Seafood
Pork Belly from the Winter Menu at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood.

You are one of the few female executive chefs of a major award-winning restaurant in this region. How does that make you feel? It’s surreal, it makes me feel proud and excited. This isn’t something I think about often, but every once in a while, it hits me that I have this great opportunity to lead a Four-Diamond team and it’s a dream come true.

What can guests expect from Seagar’s in 2018? Guests can expect new and innovative menu items. My team and I are always learning and creating. In sum, we will stay true to who we are as a New York-style steak house, but guests will always delight at how each dish has a nice surprise.

Photos provided courtesy of Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood