Getting to Know Jeremy Shelton of BLT Steak

By Rina Rapuano  |  December 3, 2013

Newly minted BLT Steak executive chef Jeremy Shelton was recently lured from Florida to replace Jon Mathieson, who left BLT at the end of September. Shelton is not new to the steakhouse circuit, most recently serving as executive sous-chef at Bourbon Steak in Miami.

Officially a DC resident for about two months, Shelton admits he hasn’t had a chance to explore as much of DC’s dining scene as he’d like to, but so far he has enjoyed pizza at 2 Amys and his favorite guilty-pleasure dish du jour, butter-drenched escargot at Sur La Place.

The Florida native grew up on a farm raising animals and vegetables, and he frequently hunted with his father. His love of the outdoors and hunting informs his cooking, too: the chef intends to introduce housemade jerky made of elk, wild boar and venison.

We chatted with Shelton about these details and more, including some of his favorite things and what diners can expect to find the next time they show up for the restaurant’s well-known steak and popovers.

What will you miss most about Miami?
I lived my entire life in Florida, so it’ll always be home for me. More than anything, [I’ll miss] the fishing there. Not just Miami, but South Florida. I really like the outdoors, so for me that’s a big part of what I’ll miss - just being out there on the water.

What are you most looking forward to exploring in DC?
I haven’t really been able to get out that much, but there’s so much history and culture. Being in the nation’s capital, there’s so much going on here. And there are so many different cultures and ethnic cuisines that I want to explore, so I’m really looking forward to that.

What kinds of changes should people expect with the menu?
The first and most immediate change that we’re working on right now is the Wagyu program, expanding that and making it a broader price range of availability so you don’t feel like you have to spend $80 or $90 for it. We’re still playing around with different cuts and looking for something that can be sold at around $45. We’re getting ready to bring the true Japanese A5 Wagyu in this week.

What will stay the same?
The core menu is never really going to change. That makes sure the experience is the same across the board at all BLT Steaks. But with the blackboard menu, they’ve pretty much given me free rein. I definitely have a lot of Italian influence. This week we have a Parmesan-crusted bone marrow with tomato mostarda on the menu, and we’re going to put a lamb shank on toward the end of the week with dill and pistachio gremolata.

What’s your favorite dish on the menu?
I’m kind of into the peanut butter mousse this week. Obviously, the popovers - I probably eat two to three of those a day. If I had to go with a steak, I would probably go with a rib-eye.

What’s your favorite condiment?
Texas Pete hot sauce is what I find myself putting on everything.

What’s your favorite cut of steak?
Hands down, the rib-eye, bone-in. I enjoy the grain of the meat, the fattiness, that little bit of gristle that’s in there. Some people don’t get that, but it’s perfect for me.

What’s your go-to bar order?
I’m definitely a whiskey person. For me, the simpler, the better. All the classic cocktails are great, but sometimes a good glass of whiskey is all you need. I just had Willett for the first time this week, and it was absolutely delicious. Probably one of the better whiskeys I’ve ever had.

What’s your food guilty pleasure?
I like to go to Sur la Place off MacArthur - their escargot there is absolutely ridiculous. It’s about as perfect as escargot can be. It’s served in the Staub [cookware] with lemon-garlic butter and wheat beer, and they top the whole thing with Parmesan cheese. The cheese gets crusty on top of the cast iron, and everything about it is so perfect with the crusty bread.

Who is your biggest culinary influence?
I don’t really know how to pick one person, exactly. Growing up, I really enjoyed being in the kitchen. That was a communal place for my family, and that’s probably what drew me toward this. I’ve worked with a lot of chefs who have influenced me a lot. 

What did you eat for breakfast?
I had a cup of coffee, black.

Where is your favorite place to travel?
Based on my childhood memories, it would be Georgia. I’m from the South, through and through. The people there are so nice - the Southern food and hospitality, you can’t really replace it.

Charcoal or gas?
Charcoal. Always.