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What's This?

It is said that the best chefs work their way up the culinary rungs. This was exactly the case with Chef John Keller whose passion for the restaurant business awakened at the age of 14 while he worked as a busboy at at the White Marsh Dinner Theatre in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. At 18 years old, John traveled to Utah for a snowboarding trip to and where his adventures with gourmet cooking would begin at The Aerie, a local award winning restaurant.

Chef Keller has moved his talents to Dinner on Ludlow in New York City’s Lower East Side. At DOL he focuses on sustainability and affordability.  Chef Keller is currently in the process of opening and owning his first restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village called Apartment 13 which will also focus on sustainability and affordability. Chef Keller hopes to have this new venture opened by the start of Spring, 2013. We asked Chef Keller to share a recipe that he felt embodied summer. He offered his Seared Tuna Salad and told us that “For me, this dish represents the changing of the guard. Ramps represent the changing of seasons and will only be available throughout the mid to late spring and the very beginning of summer. Sort of an ode to spring and a reminder that the heat is coming. Get ‘em while you can!”

3 Pepper Seared Tunaw/ Gingered-Ramp vinaigrette and local greens

For the local greens


  • 1 lemon
  • 2T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • No rules… just go to your local farmers market or grocery store and pick your favorite. I prefer a mix of a frisee, mache, and peppercress or arugula.


  1. Wash greens and refrigerate to keep crisp while making dish.

For the Tuna


  • 1 lb. Sushi grade Tuna Loin cut into 2” logs
  • 3T grapeseed or desired cooking oil for searing tuna
  • 1/2C Pepper mix consisting fresh ground pink, Szechuan, and black peppercorns
  • Sea Salt


  1. Season tuna with salt and roll in peppercorn mixture.
  2. Sear in a hot cast iron pan using 3T grapeseed oil on all sides for approx. 20 seconds on each side for rare tuna.
  3. Remove from pan and set aside on cooling rack to rest.

For the Gingered- ramp vinaigrette


  • 1T Dijon mustard
  • 2T water
  • 1/3C soy sauce
  • 1/3C rice vinegar
  • 1/4C sesame oil
  • 1/2C + 1T grapeseed oil
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 4T finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2T finely diced ramps


  1. Blend everything except oils, black pepper, ginger and ramps.
  2. Slowly emulsify oils into mixture.
  3. Add black pepper and pulse.
  4. Pour into bowl and whisk ginger into vinaigrette.
  5. Taste and add Salt if desired.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Quickly sauté ramps in remaining 1T hot grapeseed oil (20-30 seconds max)
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Pull off flame and set aside.

To Assemble:

  1. Thinly slice Tuna and assemble slices on a plate laying flat.
  2. Spoon a few T of the vinaigrette into the pan of warm sautéed ramps.
  3. Swirling the pan to make sure not to break vinaigrette.
  4. Sauce the tuna with warm vinaigrette to your desire.
  5. Toss greens with lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt, and cracked pepper.
  6. Garnish tuna with greens.

Dinner on Ludlow is located at 95 Delancey Street @ Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, NY 10002

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Blanca Valbuena
I am one of the co-founders of FriendsEAT. Obviously, I love to eat. Other passions include A Song of Ice and Fire, Shakespeare, Dostoyevski, and Aldous Huxley.
Blanca Valbuena