Iron Chef and NYC-based chef/restaurateur Marc Forgione is busier than ever these days. Just a few weeks back, news broke that he'll be opening a massive 11,000-square-foot steakhouse called American Cut inside the upcoming Atlantic City oceanside casino/resort, Revel. We caught up with the chef to get the lowdown on his "sexy" new meatery and find out how the chef's life has changed one year after winning Next Iron Chef.
Z: How did you become involved in the Atlantic City project?
MF: I was looking at a space in Vegas, and it fell through and at the exact same time that it fell through, we got the Atlantic City offer. So once they told me about it and they showed me where everyone was gonna be and what they wanted do, I was blown away.
Z: Had you been looking for a casino project specifically?
MF: Not at all actually. I’ve been very concentrated on my restaurant. I helped open so many BLTs and traveled the country, so I knew eventually I would open my steakhouse. The whole project just sounded too cool to walk away from.
Z: Tell us what we can expect on the menu.
MF: Well...obviously there will be steak. We’re doing something that I’m really excited about - if you’ve been to my restaurant in Tribeca we’ve kind of become famous for this chilli lobster dish, which we’ll be doing a version of in AC. Another cool element is we’re finishing steaks in wood-burning oven.
Z: Any dishes you’re particularly excited about?
MF: We’re making in my opinion one of the best surf 'n turfs I’ve ever had using a three pound dry aged ribeye - basically it’s the ultimate surf 'n turf. We’re doing something really funny and kind of unique - a bar next to the bar, and we’re combining Old World charcuterie with an Italian crudo bar-type thing. We’re going to add the elements of a Japanese-style sushi bar, no rice but you know - raw tuna, raw kobe, pork rillettes and country terrines as well as a basic raw bar - oysters, shrimp cocktail, etc.
Z: Tell us a little about the space.
MF: We’re trying to keep it classic steak house but making it kind of rock ‘n’ roll and sexy. We designed it as more of a restaurant with “steak house elements.” We’ve broken it down into three sections, so you don’t really feel like you’re in a steakhouse. We also have a private dining room that seats up to 80 people.
Z: A lot of other top-notch chefs have restaurants in the complex, any you’re particularly excited to try?
MF: Jose Garces’ place for sure. I just started to become friends with him. Plus some others that I can’t really talk about yet. It’s an honor to be here with all these guys. That’s what really got me really interested. When you do something like this you want to make sure the whole project has the same goals or ideas. It's going to be really special.
Z: What did you think of the outcome of this season of Next Iron Chef?
MF: I’ve been following Geoff for years so I was really happy for him. In the episode that I judged I think any of them could have taken it and Geoffrey did. He’s an amazing addition to the team.
Z: A year later, how has becoming an Iron Chef affected your life?
MF: It’s crazy - honest to God I was just talking about this with my family - the restaurant is packed, I’m opening a new restaurant, I’m working with different companies like Pom Wonderful and T-Fal. It’s a very “pinch me I can’t believe this is happening year.” It’s given me the opportunity to really do what I want, which is cook for as many as people as possible. Before it’s like you’re struggling to get people in to the restaurant, and now I’m struggling to fit in more seats. I am truly blessed.
Z: Can we expect to see you in other Food Network shows in the near future?
MF: Obviously it’s kind of up to the Food Network. I’m more concentrated on the restaurant aspect of this business than the TV aspect. I’m more comfortable with that part.
Z: Any other projects in the works right now?
MF: Not really, Atlantic City is like five projects in one!