Marc Murphy – executive chef/owner of New York restaurants Ditch Plains and Landmarc – is without a doubt an icon in the industry. Practicing his expertise as a consistent judge favorite on Food Network’s Chopped, Murphy got an early start when it comes to great food. The son of a diplomat, Murphy lived in places like Milan, Paris, Rome and Genoa all before the age of twelve, training his palate earlier than most. His style is a perfect mix; while Landmarc features cuisine from around the globe, Ditch Plains reflects his innate love of the beach, seafood and surfing. Working under culinary greats like Alain Ducasse and Sylvain Portray (who insisted on vibrant favors with minimal manipulation), Murphy was molded into the kind of chef who is classic with an edge. Charismatic and wise, this restaurateur was hard to resist sitting down with – that’s we’re kicking off this week with icon Marc Murphy.
What would be your ideal food day?
Something I love to do is go to Chinatown and have Congee for breakfast. I’m adventurous – I like discovering new things. For lunch I’d probably go to Extra Virgin, then to the East Village for the Butter Lane Cupcakes. Then dinner at Daniel’s new restaurant, Boulud Sud on the Upper West Side, followed by a cocktail at Stone Rose at Time Warner Center. You have to include cocktails; a day without a drink is like a day without sunshine!
You’ve worked with iconic chefs, some of which have been on our site (Alain Ducasse, Terrance Brennan and Sylvain Portray). How did these chefs shape you?
A fun thing about working with different chefs is that you don’t just learn what to do, but what not to do. Something great I learned from David Pasternack – he’d say something like ‘Go to work, do what you need to do, learn what you need to learn. What you want to take from it take from it, and what you don’t, don’t.’ Another thing I learned is to have a peripheral vision; it’s so important. Once you own a restaurant, it’s about so many other things. It’s not just about cooking. You have to do everything. And working with chefs like that; it’s great to see different peoples’ style. It helps you develop your own style later on.
On our site Ducasse said, “in fusion there can sometimes be confusion,” before going onto say he likes the harmony of two styles, rather than five. Would you say this is what you do with Italian and French cuisine?
Yes absolutely. It really comes down to less is more. When you starting mumbling too many things together, it can get confusing.
How does your background of living in a multitude of places affect your food?
I learned how to eat well at a young age; I had the benefit of growing up with good flavors, which really helped me later on.
You went from being a chef, to being a lifestyle brand. How would you define the “Marc Murphy” lifestyle?
It’s really about having fun on both sides. They’re enjoying it and we’re enjoying it. Customers won’t have fun if we aren’t having fun.