There aren’t many chefs who have opened as many successful restaurants on Long Island as Tom Schaudel has.
in Jamesport calls him an “iconic chef,” a totally apt description.
Chef Schaudel will tell you that he’s devoted three quarters of his life to the restaurant business. He started out as a dishwasher as a teenager and moved up through the ranks the hard way – in the nitty-gritty restaurant kitchens of his early years.
Even after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, his restaurant experiences continued to be “unglamorous for the first 30 years.” Schaudel says for him, being a chef is “like a calling.” He thrives on the hard work, long hours and “insanity” of restaurant life.
Interestingly, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that chefs became celebrities in their own right. Now, with “reality” cooking shows on television, chefs have achieved something of a rock star status. Schaudel thinks anything that encourages people to cook is a good thing. He has done numerous cooking demos here on the East End, and he is not just a cook. His book “Playing With Fire” and the numerous restaurants he has opened attest to his wide range of talents, which include actually being a "rock star." He plays guitar in his own rock band.
His favorite restaurant was the Downtown Grill which he opened in Montauk in the 1980s. He loved living in Montauk and the challenge of creating a gourmet restaurant in a place that was far from being a food mecca. As a self-proclaimed “fish guy,” Montauk was his kind of place.
He still feels that fish dishes are his strong suit. Two of his most popular “signature” dishes are a Chilean sea bass with lobster fricasee and smoked tomato relish, and a whole roasted sea bass with scallop ceviche of chili, coconut and lime.
Some interesting things to know about Schaudel:
His hero is John Ross, the North Fork chef who was doing the local/seasonal thing long before anyone else on the east coast.
His house wines are his own blends made by Paumanok under his own proprietary label.
His favorite North Fork restaurants (that are not his own) are ’s in Greenport and in Southold.
While many of this chef’s dishes are original and delicious, he is not just a creative aesthete. Schaudel has an unusual combination of good instincts and good business sense that have put him in the forefront of the restaurant business. He listens to his customers, has a great sense of humor and is not above working hard at what he does.
Not too shabby for an “iconic chef.”