This afternoon, I sat down with Chef Andy Schilling, the relatively new head chef at the White Plains output of BLT Steak, to discuss his background, the restaurant, and more. An alumnus of the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center), Schilling has had the privilege of working with esteemed chefs in several acclaimed restaurants. These opportunities were a pivotal extension of his education. His official training covers predominantly French cuisine, but at this point, his expertise is far-reaching.
Upon graduating FCI in 2000, Schilling’s career began at the prestigious Eleven Madison Park, where he worked for six years. Schilling started in pastry but ultimately transitioned into the savory side of the kitchen, working in fish and then in meat. It wasn’t long before he became the sous chef.
Schilling’s next move was to Danny Meyer’s catering company (now part of Union Square Hospitality Group), where he worked as a head party chef. On the side, he was a private chef for a family. In 2008, Schilling became the chef at 15 Central Park West, the high-end luxury apartment complex, working at the private restaurant and catering parties.
Now, Schilling is running the kitchen at the Ritz-Carlton‘s luxe BLT Steak in downtown White Plains. With all of the steakhouse chains out there, Schilling believes there is more of a refinement to BLT. Steaks across the country are served with potatoes or creamed spinach, and BLT can certainly offer these lovable staples. But the upscale chain takes its menu to a new level to include gourmet salads like the lobster “Cobb” and sides like truffle mashed potatoes.
And then there’s the meat itself. USDA prime and broiled at 1700 degrees, the steaks are the obvious draw at this BLT output. The most popular cut is the filet, but Schilling’s personal favorite is the bone-in strip since its aging brings extra flavor.
Aside from tender, mouthwatering meats, popular dishes include BLT’s tuna tartar, aesthetically pleasing in a neat cube of vibrant pink tuna and fresh green avocado. Both the grilled branzino with shiitake mushrooms, turnips, and basil and the sautéed Dover sole with soy caper brown butter are excellent. Schilling’s favorite salad is the chopped salad, but I loved the chunks of lobster in BLT’s creative “Cobb.” The restaurant utilizes a greenmarket on Wednesdays set up across the street to ensure the ultimate in veggie freshness.
The core menu offers a wide variety with the capacity to satisfy the non-carnivorous. Dessert selections recently changed with the season, and I relished in the perfection that was the bourbon vanilla crème brulee. Blackboard specials change weekly and seasonally, but the bulk of the menu stays pretty constant all year round.
BLT Steak is evolving, though: for just a week or two now, BLT Steak has been experimenting with an outdoor beer garden. Anyone is welcome to swing by for an al fresco happy hour and oyster bar from 4:30-6:30PM on Monday through Thursday. This concept was launched for summer and may be expanded upon depending on its success. Right now, patrons can enjoy a small menu of bar snacks, but more traditional sausages and larger plates are potentially on the horizon.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy an outdoor summer drink, business meeting, or special occasion, BLT Steak will dazzle with impeccable service and food. Oh, and don’t forget to snag extra Grueyère popovers to go!