Come summer, one of the east coast’s best beach destinations is Montauk, NY. Situated on the farthest tip of Long Island, this surfer’s paradise becomes a true hub of all things amazing come summertime. Thankfully, one of the coolest spots in Montauk, The Surf Lodge, is reopening its restaurant this summer, so we asked the man behind the menu to dish on his cooking style, favorite organic ingredients, and his influential Australian roots.
The Chalkboard: Can you try to sum up the cuisine and feeling of Byron in three word?
Chris Rendell: Light. Fresh. Home.
TC: What was the inspiration for the restaurant?
CR: We named the restaurant after Byron Bay, one of Australia’s most beautiful surf towns.
Located on the far north point in New South Wales, it boasts, unarguably, the most spectacular pristine beaches, sunsets and a most magnificent coastline.
Byron Bay is a very Bohemian Aussie-Surf-Chic town, with an emphasis on the simplicity of life, clean living and is home to a fine ‘farm-to-table’ food movement.
Australia is highly regarded for its culinary and simple approach to its style of cuisine; simple, clean, fresh, local and organic market-driven, with a focus on fresh seafood.
TC: Name your top 3 Favorite Montauk stops and shops:
CR: Ditch Plains for hitting the water
Camp Hero with its similar coastline to Australia
Swallow East for great small bites on the dock
TC: On using organic and sustainable foods:
CR: These two words have been thrown around for some time now; I think the second, sustainability, has become the real factor.
Wherever possible, trying to be sustainable will allow future generations to enjoy what we currently take for granted.
TC: Biggest distinction between Australian and American food:
CR: Coming from two different ends of the world, I think Australia is lucky to have the Asian element to its cuisine. Being so close allows these Asian flavors to bleed into different cultures that make up Australia. You can find Greek parents making a classic Laksa or someone from Thailand cooking a good old Aussie BBQ. There are no real boundaries when trying to define Australian food.
TC: What does an Aussie chef bring to the table that others do not?
CR: I think a lighter touch when it comes dishes. I am big believer that less is often more. We are also saturated with different culture in Australia, so we tend to lend to other cuisines while still being true to our style of cooking
TC: Favorite local Montauk ingredients:
CR: Hands down, fluke and swordfish.
TC: Dish that you most expect to become a cult-classic with regulars:
CR: The Lobster Mornay. Served with grilled corn, chili-herb butter and baby gem lettuce.
This is a classic import from home. I remember my mum doing a Tuna Mornay version when I was young. The lobster certainly takes it up a level. But the smell of a gratinated cheesy sauce still takes me back!
We have already had customers return for it and when it’s not on the special board, there have been a few tears amongst some of the punters.
TC: The one element you wish you could import from Byron Bay itself:
CR: A perfect 3 to 4 foot wave from Wategos Beach!
For more on The Surf Lodge and Byron be sure to check out their site and don’t forget to let us know how your visit is!