Haute Eating: 10 Questions for The Beacon’s Chef Sam McClelland

Diners in the Hamptons flock to The Beacon not only for the incredible view (especially at sunset) but also for executive chef Sam McCleland’s creative cuisine. His food’s flavors are summery and often sensational, and seasonal favorites include the steamed mussels “Beacon style” with garlic, white wine, fresh lemon-thyme, cream and tomatoes and oven-roasted chicken with julienne carrots, braised shallots and smoked bacon-pecorino risotto. Some dishes have an Asian twist, like the sesame-crusted tuna with Napa cabbage-jicama slaw and Asian glaze. Additional popular dishes include the guava baby back ribs with grilled asparagus and potato hash and the sautéed local flounder with tomato, leeks, capers and Yukon mashed potatoes.

Originally from Illinois, McCleland is a graduate of Johnson & Wales College. He was sous chef at The Beacon prior to taking the reins of the kitchen in 2001 as executive chef. Prior to The Beacon, he worked at the esteemed Hamptons’ restaurants 95 School Street and Nick & Toni’s, The Black Pearl in Vero Beach, FL and as a personal chef. His culinary inspiration comes from both his up bringing in America’s heartland and the flavors of the Caribbean Islands where he served for many years as a chef aboard yachts.

Haute Living: What’s new at The Beacon?
Sam McCleland: Lots of crudos and ceviches. Right now, I love the local fluke crudo with jalapeno pesto, pink grapefruit and micro greens

HL: What are some of your favorite dishes at your restaurant?
SM: Absolutely our pork chop Milanese with frisee, caramelized onions, oven-roasted tomatoes and creamy truffle vinaigrette, and, of course, our crispy fish tacos w/ salsa verde and tomato emulsion

HL: Where do you like to dine when you’re not working?
SM: I’m usually grilling at home with my family, or it’s red/bar brasserie in Southampton or Fresno Restaurant in East Hampton.

HL: What’s your ideal meal?
SM: Grilling a great steak at home with my family.

HL: Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
SM: I’m usually cooking for our special occasions.

HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?
SM: I love to explore new restaurants in the West and East Villages of Manhattan.

HL: What do you like to do in the city on your days off?
SM: Restaurant hop and sample good food. Some of my favorite places are Balthazar, Joseph Leonard, Perilla, Marea and Momofuku.

HL: Your favorite vacation destination?
SM: Our home in Vero Beach, Florida or Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

HL: What’s your most memorable meal?
SM: 13 course tasting menu at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris.

HL: What are your five favorite ingredients?
SM: Local corn, local bay scallops, local heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and truffle oil.

The Beacon is located at 8 West Water St, Sag Harbor; 631-725-7088.

To reach Tracey Ceurvels, visit her blog, The Busy Hedonist, or email her.