|Inside the steamy tent|
Staff from 36 restaurants including Nick and Toni’s, Nammos, Trata, Delmonico’s, Navy Beach, Fresh and Gurney’s Sea Grill from the South Fork; and North Fork Table, Riverhead Project, Noah’s and The Friskey Oyster from the Nork Fork, served up dishes, while 18 vintners including Wolffer and Nicholas Feuillatte poured wines and champagne. Hot new products such as the homemade sorbet line Sorbabes (check out the fresh cucumber, white wine mint and the all-natural 10 calorie per bottle fruity drink, Bai also took advantage of giving their products exposure at the event.
“There is a lot of serious food in the Forks: It was exciting to experience so many local restaurants, like Bostwick’s and Smokin’ Wolf BBQ, all in one evening,” said the evening’s host, Bobby Flay.
Though it was a Saturday night, most chefs left their restaurants to turn up personally. “I get to see old friends like David Burke and Kerry Heffernan; I worked with them in the ‘80s,’’ says Todd Jacobs, chef of the new Bridgehampton restaurant, Fresh.
Local produce filled Fresno chef Gretchen Moser’s studded striped bass with grilled corn, heirloom tomatoes and cilantro, as well as Race Lane chef Nimesh Maharjan’s summer polenta with sundried tomato vinaigrette, sunflower leaf greens, rosemary and olive oil asiago. Georgica chef Seth Levine did double duty, also helping scoop up Nammos’ luscious scallops with truffle pasta.
Even Nick and Toni’s chef Joe Realmuto was there, handing out ramekins of garden basil panna cotta with heirloom tomatoes and crispy prosciutto. “The day you start believing your own press releases is the day you have to hang it up,’’ said the restaurant’s owner Mark Smith, about the duo being able to leave the hot spot. “Besides, part of the money goes to charity.’’
Of course, some chefs sent surrogates. “I’m not the chef, I’m the chef’s friend,’’ said Dawn Ward, who was standing in for the Riverhead Project’s new toque, Lia Fallon, offering up fine slivers of super fresh scallops in an herb studded ceviche.
“I’m a Jersey Shore guy, but I was in the Hamptons doing catering, so I came by,’’ said David Burke. “There was some good food: I loved Mark Militello’s spicy coconut chicken and watermelon salad, Todd Jacobs duck rillettes with arugula and Claudia Flemming’s shrimp.’’
Militello, who earned his cudos in Miami and is now at 75 Main in Southampton, seemed to enjoy his first weeks in the Hamptons, except for one thing: “In Florida we have piped in air conditioning!’’ he noted.
Flemming thought the tent’s heat and humidity was no issue, relatively speaking. “Here you get to meet your guests, and you have a chance to get out of the kitchen!’’