Q & A with Executive Chef Roley Johnson of LeMont
Celebrating 25 years at LeMont
Christine McMahon Tumpson
March 9, 2021
The LeMont on Mt. Washington is a favorite restaurant for special celebrations. From weddings to reunions to birthdays, many memories have been made at this classic fine dining spot. With stunning views of the city of Pittsburgh, LeMont is also known for its Art Deco designs and its traditional food.
Tragedy struck recently with the death of beloved longtime Executive Chef Robert Vargo. The search for his replacement began in the restaurant's own kitchen, with the appointment of Roley Johnson as the new Executive Chef.
Roley Johnson, Executive Chef, LeMont Restaurant
25 years at LeMont.
1. How did you become interested in cooking?
I started my career in restaurants as a dishwasher in the late 1980s at Jake's Above the Square in Market Square. During that time, I credit the guidance and mentorship of Chef David McKinney who encouraged my interest in cooking and trained me to become a Chef.
2. Where did you receive your training?
I first learned from Chef David McKinney. Then, 25 years ago, I was hired at LeMont and the late Executive Chef Robert Vargo taught me over the years and helped make me a better cook.
3. What are some of your favorite dishes to eat?
My favorite food at home is steak potatoes with avocado and broccoli. My favorite food at LeMont is the New Zealand rack-of-lamb with seasoned breadcrumbs.
4. What are some of your favorite dishes to make?
I have a crab cake recipe that I absolutely love to prepare, And yes, it is a secret recipe! I have three ingredients that I cannot live without: sea salt; Cajun spice and pure olive oil... and a secret spice that I do not share!
5. What are your plans for the cuisine at LeMont?
I am excited to continue to work with the talented kitchen staff at LeMont and to implement some of the great ideas they have to make us better as a whole in the kitchen and to provide new, exciting menu items for our customers.
6. How did you feel when you were offered the position at LeMont?
It was bittersweet. My promotion to Executive Chef came after the sudden death in August 2020 of our Executive Chef Robert Vargo. I am working hard to pay tribute to his memory by utilizing many of his recipes and continuing to run a very efficient kitchen.
7. How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
I love cycling. I bike about 5,000 miles a year. I ride with the Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling Club.
Menu items photographed at LeMont
1. Salmon Gravlax ($18)
Our own home-cured salmon served with fresh dill, capers, red onion and Dijon creme fraiche and toasted pumpernickel bread
2. Caprese Salad with Toasted Baguette ($9)
Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil and seasoning
3. Veal Loin with Mango Chutney ($42)
Veal tenderloin pan seared to perfection with sea salt and Italian herbs, finished with fresh mango chutney and our own Balsamic demi-glaze