Before Ben Sargent traveled up and down the American coastline as the host of the Cooking Channel’s Hook, Line, and Dinner, he was better known as Dr. Klaw, a mysterious Brooklyn-based figure who served up made-to-order lobster rolls to loyal SMSing subjects. It was a clandestine but lucrative business — and one that totally screwed up the celebrity chef’s schedule.
But Sargent, who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and owes his love of all things seafood to his bucolic New England summers, isn’t one to keep a set schedule anyway. Even now, he splits his time between his show, hosting the Heritage Radio Network’s Catch It, Cook It, Eat It, operates the Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association and will soon begin his new project, Unchowdered Territories: 50 Chowders, 50 States. For this last venture, he will travel the U.S. in search of each area’s “state chowder.”
To be sure, Sargent is overbooked. He still finds sowntime at his Brooklyn home or on his family farm in Londonderry, Vermont.
In his own words, here's how the chef sleeps.
I’m really terrible about getting to bed. I eat way too late at night and usually fall asleep watching Netflix or CNN. I turn it on and just let it stream all night.
I’m one of those guys who needs sound to sleep, which is weird because I’m half country boy — my parents literally bought the farm when I was 12, up in Vermont, and I’ve been going up ever since.When I’m in the country, I don’t need sound to sleep at all.
It used to be a horse farm and we’re turning it into a bed & breakfast, a sort of fun Vermont getaway. So I just rebuilt the barn, I put up a shed, I get to work with this old funky salvaged wood — I’m just building and building.
A few years ago I may have started an underground lobster network here in Greenpoint, which really fucked up my sleep schedule. I started it in my basement and I ran it as a texting business: For two years, if I got a text I had to jump out of bed and make a lobster roll. I started at 5 p.m. and I would just go as long as I had to. I never said no.
It really did look like a drug deal. I would go hand these things off on the street. It was tough, it was strenuous and I was exhausted. But on the flip side I was really enjoying the theater of it — and I was really making money.
I also found that if you stay up making that many lobster rolls, by hand, for two years, your lobster roll gets pretty good. I’d have to say I think mine is probably one of the best around.
I’m not a breakfast guy. In fact, I usually skip breakfast altogether. It’s so bad, I know. I’m more of a brunch guy: Every morning I do a little work, come back at 11 and make a wrap. I usually do egg, cooked onion, avocado, tomato, a little bit of mayonnaise and American cheese on a whole-wheat wrap.
I eat a lot, but the finest meal I’ve ever had was while traveling in Italy. It was a fish under salt — they literally pour a couple pounds of salt on it, spray it with water, bake it, pull it out of the oven and whack it until the salt breaks off in sections. Inside is the most perfectly delicious fish you’ve ever tasted — it’s herbed, but somehow you can hardly detect the salt.
In Argentina, I went way up in the mountains and lived with a family there. They were real farm people living on this tiny plateau in the shadow of these huge mountains. They raised goats and were the nicest people I’ve ever met.
I have an old Shaker chair next to my bed, which is where I keep my computer. I also have a little bedside table with a couple of hard drives an a book.
Right now I’m reading The Long Ride Home by Nathan Millward, who rode a scooter around the world. It’s an autographed copy so I cherish that.
Always an iced coffee. Even in winter.