Recently, over a seafood-laden lunch of cornmeal-crusted calamari with Thai chile sauce, incredibly fresh tuna nicoise and flavor-packed lobster rolls, we became reacquainted with the caliber of Executive Chef Michael Luongo’s skill sets. The acclaimed Glenmorgan Bar & Grill chef just arrived on the Main Line in 2012, re-establishing The Radnor Hotel gourmand’s true meeting place—for business meetings, dinner dates and many, many special events (weddings included).
In the midst of the chef’s busy schedule, we chit-chatted with him about his top Glenmorgan dishes, his multi-cultural cooking style, his on-site chef’s garden and, even, what he’d eat for his last supper.
Main Course: Since coming to Glenmorgan Bar & Grill in 2012, you’ve reinvented the culinary program, adding many modernized touches and eye-catching dishes to the mix. Can you reveal your three favorite dishes on the menu that we should all be eating right now?
Michael Luongo: Just three? Well, since it’s nearly burger month I’ve got to mention my Glenmonster Burger. It’s eight layers of awesome. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have a classically presented tuna nicoise served with sushi-grade yellowfin tuna. I prefer mine served rare. As a dinner entrée, the farmhouse meatloaf is sure to please. It is laced with Applewood smoked bacon, and topped with my signature housemade soda jerk BBQ sauce.
How do you define your cooking style? How does that influence the dishes at Glenmorgan Bar & Grill?
I like French sauces, Italian flavors, Japanese style plating. I make real food, and take a “from-scratch” approach. We make all of our own stocks in house because, after all, the flavor is in the bones. We use the freshest seasonal ingredients, we don’t take shortcuts and the end result is the best possible outcome.
Your role at Glenmorgan Bar & Grill ranges from overseeing the day-to-day operations of the restaurant to catering small- and extremely large-scale events. What do you find most enjoyable about acting as chef in such a fast-paced environment with high demands (especially with so many brides involved!)?
I truly enjoy the fast-paced business that I have chosen. My culinary passion enables me to thrive under pressure and I enjoy every part of it.
Weddings are my favorite. One of the many rewarding parts of my job is playing a part in one of the most memorable days of a couples’ lives. I do all the tastings personally and we customize every wedding package specifically to their preferences. Here, at The Radnor, we truly have the ability to deliver on the promise of a perfect day.
One cool highlight about The Radnor Hotel is that you have an on-site chef’s garden that provides many of the herb accents for your dishes. What is the No. 1 herb you can’t live without? Are you adding any new herbs to the mix for the 2014 growing season?
Gotta have my basil! Lemon basil, sweet basil, purple basil, Thai basil! Don’t touch my basil!
I’ve got every herb I need: cilantro, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, lavender, mint. I’m expanding with tomatoes. I’ll have teardrops, beefsteaks, plums, grapes, red and yellow.
What is your ultimate last-supper meal? What beverage(s) would you pair with it?
I’m easy. I want surf and I want turf. Then, I need chocolate.
Give me a shrimp cocktail with vodka-infused cocktail sauce, spice-rubbed rib-eye steak on the bone and chocolate crème brulee for dessert. I’ll need a few drinks, because after all, it is my last meal.
Let’s start with an extra dirty Ketel One martini with three olives. With dinner, I’ll have a Malbec. I like one from Argentina called The Show—it’s subtle and clean and it can hold its own with a juicy steak. For dessert, I’ll have Blanton’s (single barrel bourbon whiskey) neat.