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Q & A With Marc Murphy

Restaurateur and chef Marc Murphy and his wife, Pamela Schein Murphy, blazed a trail to Tribeca when the two introduced Landmarc to the neighborhood.  Murphy’s modern interpretation of an Italian-inflected French bistro was well-received not only by the locals, but also by the NYC’s dining public at large.  Though he’s trained in some of the most upscale of kitchens, including La Fourchette & Le Cirque, he’s managed to integrate his penchant for the casual with his haute techniques at both Landmarc and West Village seafood shack, Ditch Plains.

Having created a highly successful patent that changed the face of neighborhood dining, Murphy launched Landmarc at the Time Warner Center earlier this year.  A hard formula to beat, Landmarc’s laid back atmosphere and unusually affordable wine list seem a welcome change for a posh urban mall, brimming with the cream of the culinary crop.

Status: Single/Married/Divorced

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a racecar driver.

What was your first job in food?
My first job in food was in high school when I used to get in trouble in school, I’d have to work in the kitchen. I loved it. 

As a diplomat’s son, how did traveling around the world – Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington DC, Rome and Genoa – influence your experience with food?  And your childhood?  
Traveling and eating through all the different countries and trying the different cuisines got me excited about food.

You worked with many a great chef, including Terrance Brennan and Alain Ducasse; what did you learn from them?
Brennan taught me not only to work hard but how to have fun in the kitchen.
Working with Ducasse opened the door to working with Portay at Le Cirque.  Why did you elect Tribeca for your first Landmarc?   Were you ever concerned the location would discourage uptowners from making the trek, or did you simply set out to implement a neighborhood restaurant?
  I never intended on having a destination restaurant. I want all my restaurants to be something the neighborhood can enjoy. That’s why delivery works out so well too. People end up eating our food 3-4 times a week.

You recently opened another Landmarc, a massive version, in the Time Warner Center. What’s it like rubbing elbows with Thomas Keller of Per Se and Masa Takayama at the eponymous Masa?
We don’t really end up rubbing elbows. The Time Warner Center ends up feeling more like a neighborhood. Like we’re on one corner of the street and they’re on the other.

Landmarc’s wine list is notably extensive, but extremely affordable.  How do you manage to charge so little for your wines and still make a profit?
We sell a lot more wine.  I used to work in fine dining at Cellar in the Sky at the WTC and at La Fourchette. When I worked in those places, I’d only see my friends once or twice a year on special occasions. I wanted to have a restaurant where I’d see my friends once or twice a week. And that’s what we’ve created.

Ditch Plains is obviously a nod to Montauk’s surf beach in Long Island.  Do you surf in your spare time?  I heard you boogie board a bit…any truth in that?
Yes, I love to surf and I love to boogie board. 

Would you ever consider opening in the Hamptons or expanding the Ditch Plains concept to other cities or states?
I would never open a restaurant in the Hamptons because that’s where I go to relax. I would open another Ditch Plains in other cities or states though.

One of your “word of mouth” dishes, the Ditch Dog at Ditch Plains, – a snappy hotdog topped with macaroni and cheese – isn’t anywhere to be found on your menu.  Why keep it a secret?
We feel it’s something special for the customer to know and show off to their friends. It creates a concept of ownership.

Any other “off the menu” dishes we should know about?
No yet.

What’s your favorite dish on Landmarc’s menu, and why?
I like all of the dishes, that’s why I have such a hard time choosing what I eat there. I can’t decide.

What’s your least favorite dish (and yes, you must pick one)?
The mixed green salad.

What is your junk food of choice?
The egg mcmuffin.

Other than your own, what’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
Crispo and Extra Virgin

What culinary trend do you most embrace?
Casual dining and inexpensive wine lists…if it’s not yet a trend let’s start it, so I can start eating out more.

What trend do you wish would die already?

What’s next on the horizon for you?  Are there any new ventures or restaurants in the works?  Spill the beans…
We talk to everyone. Nothing has materialized yet.  We’re looking for the right place, the right concept and the right time.

Phone: 212.343.3833
Address: 179 W. Broadway, btwn. Leonard & Worth Sts.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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