Gurney’s Montauk Resorts have been a Hamptons hotspot for decades, capturing the spirit of life by the sea and east coast luxury. With two Montauk locations, Gurney’s is a luxury hotel located right on the beach, making it a relaxing getaway and an experience like no other as out-of-towners are invited to live like locals.
Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Seawater Spa has 158 rooms, suites, and cottages with surrounding ocean views, and Gurney’s Star Island Resort consists of 107 guestrooms, both resorts capturing the beach town charm as they welcome vacationers.
Along with the many amenities and luxuries that the inns have to offer, one of the aspects that makes these resorts stand apart is their unmatched dining experiences. There are a wide variety of seaside eateries at Gurney’s including in-room dining, Tillie’s, The Beach Club, The Firepits, and several others. Each restaurant is unique with diverse menus and its own ambiance.
Executive Chef Doug Forgione of Gurney’s spoke more about the restaurants, the East End customers, and the success he has found in the culinary world in Montauk.
How would you describe the restaurant(s) at Gurney’s?
DF: Both Gurney’s Montauk and Gurney’s Star Island have strong culinary programs, and I’m very excited to be able to build on their existing foundation. Visitors and Montauk locals alike enjoy our restaurants at both properties, including Showfish and our year-round service at Tillie’s and The Firepits at Gurney’s Montauk. I’m looking to really expand this fan base and evolve the experience we provide.
What are some of the must try menu items and what are your favorites to create?
DF: My favorite items to create are simple dishes that highlight the great products that we bring in from our purveyors. One of our current items that really speaks to that sentiment is our smoked salmon dish. We elevate a classic smoked salmon preparation with a French cooking technique for potatoes called Pommes Darphin for our own unique take.
How did you get started with your career as a chef? Why did you decide to go into this field?
DF: Despite being born into a family of chefs, my career journey didn’t follow the traditional path. I originally was first introduced to Montauk in 2004 where I served in the Coast Guard for six years. After this experience, I reconnected with my roots and my passion for cooking. Once I moved to New York I decided that it was time to transform this passion into my profession and I started working in kitchens across the city before heading to the International Culinary Centre.
What led you to Montauk?
DF: Like I mentioned I was first exposed to Montauk during my transformative years in the Coast Guard, so the town has always held a special place in my heart. During the pandemic when there was so much uncertainty in New York City, I wanted a change, and like many others I was drawn out east by Montauk’s natural beauty and unique spirit. I was especially thrilled when I was able to spend the 2021 summer season at Gurney’s Star Island.
What do you love most about the East End customers?
DF: One thing I love about Montauk is the connection to the local community, and how that translates to an emphasis amongst diners on seeking out the freshest local products. We are so fortunate to have such a natural bounty at our fingertips, from both the land and sea, and it’s great to have customers that really push us to highlight and elevate local ingredients.
What’s your favorite part about being located on the East End or Montauk specifically?
DF: It’s great to have relationships with local purveyors, and the whole hospitality community out here is really inspiring and creativity—it’s a joy to be a part of.
To run a restaurant, you must have to juggle a lot of responsibilities and wear many different hats. What are your strategies for keeping up with day-to-day demands?
DF: You can never know what to expect when you walk into service at a restaurant. Remaining calm, trusting your team, and taking on the individual challenges as they present themselves is the process that I have found to work best for myself.
What is the top quality or value that you feel helped you become a successful chef?
DF: Fear. Fear of falling behind my peers on the line, fear of letting down the chefs that I have worked for, fear of not living up to the standard that was forged before me. I’ve found a way to challenge this emotion in a positive direction and am always motivated to push myself. Outside of fear, it’s the mindset that every day is a new day. Acknowledge and correct any issues from the previous shift but today is a new day and there is no reason not to approach it with a positive attitude.
What has been your greatest accomplishment working in this industry to-date?
DF: I am not the type of person to reflect on “my” accomplishments because “my accomplishments” don’t exist without a team of people around me. With the continued support of this team we can look forward to OUR accomplishments this coming season instead of looking back on individual successes.
What is unique about Gurney’s that can’t be found or replicated at any other restaurant—or resort?
DF: Gurney’s Montauk properties are known for offering elevated local and coastal inspired cuisine, from our lobster rolls to our summer beachside lobster bakes. What I’m most proud of is how much we work with local purveyors, sourcing our ingredients from fishmongers and farms located in our Long Island community. As such, our menus also change often to showcase seasonal produce and our stunning location leads to truly unique dining experiences.
How much do the summer months contrast with the off season when it comes to the dining room? Which do you prefer?
DF: There is no comparison, the season out here is like nothing I have ever seen before. Every venue on property is at capacity, weddings and corporate events all taking place simultaneously. It’s controlled chaos in the best of times and when you finally get a chance to reflect on it, it’s over. I’ll take the chaos over the tranquility every time.
For more information about Gurney’s, including booking your stay or a trip to one of the renowned restaurants, visit https://www.gurneysresorts.com.