Babes, Beers and Barbeques with Ben Sargent

By Vanessa Butler

Celebrity chef Ben Sargent dishes on which seafood's work best on the grill.

If you were to describe celebrity chef Ben Sargent in one word, it would be manly. This guy has no qualms about getting his hands dirty to catch only the freshest aquatic ingredients on his show Hook, Line & Dinner on the Cooking Channel, and serves up some of the best seafood chowder at his restaurant Hurricane Hopeful in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sargent has also had a long string of guest star spots on hit cooking shows such as Iron Chef America, Extreme Chef, Martha, Chopped and Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

If that’s not enough to keep Sargent busy, he’s also working on putting out his own cookbook, Unchowdered Territories: Seafood Secrets of the Brooklyn Chowder Surfer, has his own radio show and also does mini webisodes, in which he promises to have “the perfect combo of fishing, women, and eating” on his website After wrapping his second season of Hook, Line & Dinner, we talked with Sargent about what you can do on the barbeque when you’re working with seafood. All right, “Lobster Pusha Man,” barbequed lobster. Are we crazy that we want to try this? Any tips? Do you have to boil it first?

Ben Sargent: Boil ’em! But ONLY for five minutes. Steaming them is actually better — it’s gentler on them. For that it’s just putting them on a steaming rack over boiling water and covering it. I always pour cold water over them to stop the cooking when the five minutes is up. If you haven’t prepared lobster on your own yet, now is the time, my friends. Are you a gas grill or charcoal grill kind of man?

Sargent: A man loves charcoal for the flavor and it’s a fun way to cook. I’ll be honest, though, sometimes I get lazy and want to be able to push a button and get a good char on my fish. So I lean toward the gas grill on my lazy days. What signature barbeque dish would you serve to our sports writer, Playmate Jamie Edmonson? 

Sargent: I’ve been using banana leaf to wrap around a snapper or grouper fish and then I top it with fresh papaya. The papaya juice drips into the fish over the grill and you’re quickly dreaming that you’re on a tropical island. What’s the most challenging seafood item to get from the sea to the table?

Sargent: A swordfish can be a serious production. It’s a fish that requires a lot of equipment to catch and they like to fight hard! They can also be large so you need the space to break ’em down, which not everyone has. It took me a while to get a real handle on that one. While you’re cooking up the perfect storm, what is your drink of choice?

Sargent: Iced coffee! I’m addicted to it. I’m always sipping on one. Hint hint, pretty ladies. If I’m prepping for a night out, though, I love starting with a few Bourbon Slushes. The name of the drink itself makes me feel like I’m in for a good time. Is being a judge on Iron Chef as amazing as it looks? Was there anything you were surprised to find different from what we see at home?

Sargent: The food is amazing and that hour of cooking is real! It’s so fast and they get so much done in so little time. It’s incredible to watch some of the best chefs out there in that environment. I think to myself after the judging gig, “Ben, you better keep your game up.” What should we expect from your first cookbook, Unchowdered Territories: Seafood Secrets of the Brooklyn Chowder Surfer?

Sargent: Every fish dish in there is a fish I have personally fished for and uses a way of preparing I’ve learned over the years. There’s also cool anecdotes about where I picked up the ways of preparation and includes some insight into the places I’ve been. The dishes are fun crowd-pleasers and nothing too, too complicated. What is your first memory of Playboy?

Sargent: My childhood friend David found an issue in the neighbor’s garage and we took it to his clubhouse. We read it cover to cover about a thousand times. I caught David’s sister enjoying it too one time. I secretly loved that. What kind of music do you listen to while you’re cooking?

Sargent: I do better staying away from music in the first part of cooking a meal, but when I’m closing in on the last part and things are going well enough, I bump some hard rap or heavy reggae for sure! If you could only pick two, which would you choose: a posse of hot women, the sea or cooking?

Sargent: I really would like to cook by the sea with one or a few very hot women…Is that an option? Okay, okay, I’ll follow the rules: the sea and women.


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