Chef Billy Trudsoe sets June 19 reopening of Lizzie Keays in Warrensburg

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Billy Trudsoe, new chef-owner at Lizzie Keays restaurant in Warrensburg, says they will reopen on June 19, serving dinners Tuesday to Saturday.

He said he’d have opened sooner but is still awaiting his state liquor license. He still hopes it’ll come through by the opening, but “I can’t wait any longer, either way,” with staff ready to work.

The Chestertown native who competed in 2022 on Gordon Ramsay’s reality show Hell’s Kitchen said he signed a one-year lease and two-year option with Lizzy Keays owners Tom and Amber Grace.

He’s also the executive chef since January 2023 at Basil & Wick’s in North Creek, where he plans to succeed owner Jane Peter, “when that time comes.”

“I didn’t come out of Hell’s Kitchen just to come back and make some decent food,” says Chef Trudsoe, 42. “I came back to try to dominate, really set ourselves apart and stand out.”

He says Lizzie Keays is “my first solo” restaurant. “I’m basically dumping my whole life savings into this building, my team and myself and my brand.”

His brand is “B-True’s Mad Flava” — combining his nickname bestowed by his basketball coach back at North Country Community College, and a slang term he devised as a young chef, then at the Algonquin, for food that he terms “superb.”

As a Hell’s Kitchen alum, he can (and does) call himself a celebrity chef. In person, he serves up equal parts ambition, hometown spirit, energetic enthusiasm, assertive branding and aw-shucks charm.

The Class of 2000 North Warren grad was a three-sport high school standout. He said he scored his 1,000th basketball point as a senior at the then-Glens Falls Civic Center in North Warren’s first trip to the boys’ state championship.

Chef Trudsoe said he started cooking at his grandmother’s side at age 5 and began his career at 13, passing for 16, working a grill at Adirondack Ice Cream in Chestertown, “cooking up burgers and dogs and twistin’ up some nice ice cream cones.”

College wasn’t for him, so he got a job washing dishes at The Algonquin in Bolton, working his way up to executive chef by age 21 for “my mentor, Keith Scott.”

Chef Billy Trudsoe, with front of house manager Emma Allen, in Lizzie Keays during renovations. He displays the 1900’s paycheck written to the Irish shirtworker Lizzie Keays. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe
“I just loved that team environment,” he says, adding, “I’m also competitive.”

He said he’s cooked and designed menu features at The Garrison in Lake George; Chateau on the Lake, “a great opportunity to elevate my cuisine (beyond) high volume waterfront”; and Blue Water Manor.

He said he was working at a gastropub in Florida when he “got the call” for Hell’s Kitchen on his second try.

“Just a kid from North Warren…I found myself putting up my signature dish for Gordon Ramsay, my idol,” he says. “I went through the process and survived with my head still attached. He didn’t rip it off. “Obviously, I didn’t win,” ousted in Episode 5 of Season 21 for chicken wings that did not impress the fiery Mr. Ramsay.

Chef Trudsoe still believes in his wings.

“My number-one seller up at Basil & Wick’s is the B-True Wings. Those started at the Algonquin probably in 2005. I came up with my own signature sauce. It was my first item on the menu as a young chef.”

Ramsay “only gave me a three, but I’ve only gotten five [star ratings] since. Everybody eats it up, and they say five. Gordon’s palate was maybe off that day, I guess, or maybe he was on some haterade,” Chef Trudsoe laughs.

“You come out of Hell’s Kitchen and it’s a whole different world,” Chef Trudsoe says. “You’re on that ultimate high. Life is different after that, for sure, good and bad. You get all that publicity, so fast. And then it’s just kind of you’re in reality, you’re in real life now.

“I wanted to build my brand. I wanted to get a team going. I didn’t really like the situation I was in, in Florida. So I decided to come home and test the waters here, and basically start from scratch.”

That’s when he joined forces with Basil & Wicks owner Jane Peter.

He says, “It meant a lot because she rolled the dice on me, I rolled the dice on her, and damn, what we created…”

“I hope one day to be able to franchise B-True Mad Flava. Hopefully in 10 years, I have 10 restaurants. When my customers see B-True’s Mad Flava, I want them to think quality and…a fun environment to come eat….We want to be the culinary destination spot of the Adirondacks.”

Lizzie Keays seats 100, in main and overflow dining rooms, the bar and a screened porch that looks across River Road to the Schroon. “That’s going to be what where people want to be,” says Emma Allen, the Basil & Wick’s server who is now Lizzie Keays front of house manager. Heather Miller is bar manager.

Chef Trudsoe says, “We are looking for a dish washer but other than that are fully staffed with just under 20 employees.”

The menu includes Chef Trudsoe’s True Wings and other starters, classic and creative salads, “hand helds” and eight entrées. He said the “higher” price points — from a $15 salad to $44 for Diver Scallops — reflect the quality of the food.

He said his signature dish is Black Forest Chicken, “a parmesan and basil battered chicken breast, my take on a Chicken Francese, served with a cremini mushroom and baby spinach risotto, and topped with a Sherry Beurre Blanc.”

Lizzie Keays was first the Empire Shirt Factory. Prior owners named the restaurant for a first-generation Irish woman whose paycheck from the early 1900s they found in a safe during renovations.

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