The Dish: Chef Sam Hazen

Chef Sam Hazen has had his critics -- and he's proven them wrong. As the story goes, French cooks at a renowned London restaurant called him "Chef McDonald" because he was American, but less than a year later, he became their boss, and they just called him "chef."

He grew up in upstate New York, surrounded by food and its preparation from childhood. At age 10, Hazen got a start washing dishes and chopping lettuce in his father's restaurant. He went on to the Culinary Institute of America and honed his skills in several top-flight and Michelin-starred restaurants.

These days, he's culinary director at BR Guest Hospitality, overseeing the sea food-focused restaurants, including Izi, Blue Fin, Atlantic Grill and Blue Water Grill in New York.

Here are some of Hazen's signature dishes: Key Lime Pie and Grilled Pineapple Smash.

Key lime pie


2 10-inch pans
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 oz butter (melted)
4 oz granulated sugar


1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar together, then mix in melted butter.

2. Put 2 cups of graham cracker crust in the pan, spread evenly and press against sides and bottom.

3. Bake at 325°F for 10 minutes.

Key Lime Filling

16 oz key lime juice
3 eggs
36 oz condensed milk
2 key lime zest


1. Place key lime juice, eggs and condensed milk into a plastic container and burr mix until very well incorporated. Strain through chinois.

2. Fold in key lime zest.

To bake

1. Pre-heat conventional oven at 300°F

2. Fill pre-bake pie shells ¾ of the way up to the mold and place pies in the center of the oven and bake about 25 to 30 minutes. Custard should be set in the outside but a little lose in the center.

3. Pull pies out of the oven and allow them to cool at least three hours.

Grilled pineapple smash

2 oz. Old forester bourbon
.75 oz. Ancho Reyes liqueur
.5 oz. Agave nectar
.5 oz. Aperol
1 big bar scoop pineapple jam (see recipe below)


Add ice and remaining ingredients. Shake hard for 30 seconds. Pour half with ice - finish by straining and adding new ice into a double rocks. Garnish with grilled pineapple chunk.