82 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • DECEMBER 2018
TASTE OF FRANCE
By NICK CICCONE
Chef Guy Reuge bashfully claims
that he used to lose his temper in the
kitchen, but it’s hard to believe.
Reuge, 66, the bespectacled executive
chef of the Lessing’s Hospitality
Group and one of Long Island’s most
storied cooks, has a pristine French
accent and a boyish, slender frame.
Despite a long, impressive and very
French resume, he’s incredibly
humble. The man once cooked for
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (before he
was president of France, but still) and
yet Reuge doesn’t mind occasionally
He’s also not above an intermittent
trip to Dunkin’ Donuts for a
custard-filled confection, though he
protests: “I don’t abuse them, because
it’s not good for me.”
That he has ever been angry with
anyone seems impossible. But he’s
only human, and one day, back in the
’70s while he was forging a career as
a Manhattan chef, he says he brazenly
confronted a complaining customer.
“I take a fork and a knife, and I go
to the table and I say to the customer,
‘Excuse me sir, but is there something
wrong with the salmon I cooked for
you?’” he recalls. The customer alleged
the salmon was undercooked.
Reuge chopped the fish in half and
inspected its insides.
“I said, ‘Sir. This salmon is perfect!’
and he said, ‘OK.’” He bursts out laughing
as he recounts the customer’s nervous
reaction. “I don’t do that anymore.”
Nowadays, he splits his time between
Mirabelle Tavern at the Three
Village Inn in Stony Brook and the
Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor.
Reuge was born in Saint Lô, France,
but grew up in Orléans (the old one).
From a young age, he was intrigued
by the American way of life, he says.
In 1973, a 21-year-old Reuge came to
New York, where a bustling blend of
culture and cuisine was happening
all over Manhattan.
He cooked his way around the
city, occupying different functions
in several restaurants. He assisted
with the opening of a quaint bistro
called La Tulipe, on West 13th Street,
which enjoyed much success from
1979 until its closure in 1991. He also
got his hands dirty in the kitchens of
Le Plaisir and the iconic Tavern on
the Green in Central Park. He was in
it now, all the while fantasizing about
opening his own “resto.”
In 1983 he did just that, and for 25
years, Restaurant Mirabelle in St.
James was the successful embodiment
of Reuge’s culinary mastery. In
2008, the Lessing’s group approached
Reuge and asked him to merge businesses
and move his restaurant a few
miles north to historic Stony Brook.
“Years ago, we were looking to
make a change at the Three Village
Inn — a sort of revolution. Or, in
this case, a French revolution,” says
Mark Lessing, executive president of
restaurants at Lessing’s. “Guy Reuge’s
talent, passion and culinary pedigree
seemed the perfect fit. Today, this
award-winning executive chef is
still the hardest-working guy in the
kitchen, bar none.”
The menu at Mirabelle, which is
seasonally altered by Reuge, boasts
the freshest ingredients he can
source locally. This winter, guests
can expect earthy, high-end French
dishes like choucroute garnie (cabbage
with sausages and other salted
meats) and cassoulet with duck confit
(a rich casserole with baked beans).
Other items of note, Reuge says, are
the tavern burger (an 8-ounce custom
blend of meat with Reuge’s bacon-onion
marmalade and cheddar cheese)
and oysters from Fishers Island,
which Reuge contests are among the
best in the U.S.
Reuge insists on constantly reinventing
his menu, and himself.
Putting in 60 to 70 hours a week, it’s
easy to understand why someone in
his position might start eyeing retirement,
though he has no interest.
“As long as you are healthy, I don’t
see why you would retire,” he says. “I
don’t get it.”
Asked if he ever opts to spoil himself
and cook an elaborate meal for
one, he says: Nope, never.
“The pleasure of cooking is for
other people,” he simply says. “It’s like
drinking wine. You know, I love wine,
I belong to a wine group where we
meet every month and we taste wine
and we talk about it. Wine is sharing.
Food is the same.”
Mirabelle Tavern is located at
150 Main St., Stony Brook. It can
be reached at 631-751-0555 or
Guy Reuge, Mirabelle Tavern's visionary chef.
“This award-winning executive chef is still the
hardest-working guy in the kitchen,"
says Mark Lessing,