Gregory Baumel, proudly brandishing his Masamoto knives, is on the cutting edge of culinary creativity. He is Executive Chef/owner of The Stone Turtle in Island Park and Executive Chef at Half King in Chelsea. Greg is a regular guy, fun-loving and creative, in addition to being a talented chef and organized businessman.
A practitioner of New American cuisine, Greg asserts, “My mission is to have fun and be creative with food. Every dish is my signature dish.” His whimsy is displayed in housemade chips stacked like turtles as well as the Screaming Oysters, Blueberry Pistachio Lollipop Lamb chops and the Dirty Ashtray, a delicious dessert concoction placed in a dark chocolate mold decorated with chocolate cigars and turtles. The idea came to him on the day smoking was banned in NYC restaurants.
Greg’s interest in cooking began as a little boy in his grandmother’s kitchen, continued as a dishwasher at Harp & Mandolin in Bayside, and was followed by training at The Quilted Giraffe in the city. After years at Half King, he and his new partners designed The Stone Turtle with the theme: “Relax and chill out like a stone turtle.” Relaxing comes easily here in the brick and wood decor with fireplaces, a library and an inviting bar.
“I am a very lucky man. I don’t go to work. I go to cook and create for a living. Being an owner is a step down from being a chef. I am not in competition with other chefs, because I get it. There is camaraderie between us. We know how difficult this business is.”
Greg admires the Thrill Grill Team—his talented kitchen staff of fifteen years. “I teach all my chefs to cook exactly like I do for consistency.”
Creativity doesn’t stop in the kitchen. The Mango Popsicle Martini or Hare of the Turtle Mojito are fun cocktails. To complement the eclectic menu and beverages, Greg controls the mood with his favorite music from the Beatles, Sinatra or the many live bands playing dance music in the library. His favorite Beatle line is also a mantra: “The love you take is equal to the love you make!”
Spicy Thai Style Celebration Meatballs:
One of Gregory Baumel’s favorite things to eat as a kid was “Keftedakia” or fried Greek meatballs. He decided to take his mom’s recipe and take it Asian. The little meatballs have become staples in his restaurants ever since.
1 # Ground Beef (prefer 75%-25%) For a bit healthier option try using ground bison.
1 xs onion, chopped
1 T fresh garlic chopped
2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp fresh mint
½ Cup golden raisins
½ Cup pignoli nuts, roasted light golden
1 Cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 T sambal oelek (Vietnamese chili paste)
3 oz. olive oil
Heat 1 oz. of olive oil in a pan, add onion and cook for 2 minutes.
Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes, stirring. Cool.
Add all ingredients into mixing bowl and as gently as possible mix well.
Try not to over mix.
Roll into 1 oz. balls. Lightly flour and cook in frying pan using remaining oil.
Oelek Honey Dipping Sauce
4 oz honey
1 T sambal oelek
2 T oyster sauce
1 T fresh chopped cilantro
Juice of half a lime
Combine all ingredients and serve at room temperature.