Foodies and fans of fresh, local fare on the North and South Forks of Long Island hit the jackpot when Terry Harwood, chef and owner of Vine Street Café, and his wife, Lisa, opened their Shelter Island restaurant back in 2003. Turns out we’re lucky to have them here on the East End at all.
“I almost killed my future wife before we even got a chance to date!” Harwood recalls. “We were working side-by-side at Union Square Cafe about 15 years ago. I gave her a piece of chicken that I had just carved. I left it on her cutting board and went back to my station.
“The next thing I know,” he continues, “she’s choking on the chicken. Poor girl was starving and basically inhaled it. We had to give her the Heimlich to save her life, but of course this is a busy restaurant, so it was immediately back to work for everyone. We all had a big laugh about it later. True story.”
As we get ready to see Terry and Lisa at the inaugural Dan’s Taste of Two Forks in Bridgehampton on July 16—where there should be decidedly less drama but no lack of incredible food—Terry shares his passion for bouillabaisse, Peconic Bay oysters, NASCAR and more.
What Are You Most Looking Forward to at the Dan’s Taste of Two Forks Event…We do a lot of behind-the-scenes charity work and rarely do big events like this. But this is a good one. It’ll be a big surprise for many of our restaurant patrons to see us there. We’ll be serving Smoky Baby Back Ribs with my 3rd Generation BBQ Sauce. We don’t serve that dish at VSC, but we are opening a take-out market behind our restaurant called Vine Street Market. We also look forward to meeting people who have never been to Shelter Island.
If You Had Two Forks, What Would You Like to Stick Them In… If they were cocktail forks I would put one into a local clam and the other in a Peconic Bay oyster—and I’d use my free hand to signal for a dozen more.
Favorite Dish at Vine Street Café and What Makes It Special to You… There are many. We opened our restaurant 9 years ago with 4 appetizers and 4 entrees and 2 desserts. All of those very special items are still on our menu. The bouillabaisse is probably my favorite, and Lisa’s Strawberry-Rhuhbarb Crisp with Homemade Buttermilk Ice Cream.
What’s Great About Being Part of the Cuisine Culture on Shelter Island…We have a fantastic Organic Farm called Sylvester Manner Farms. To me the culture of cuisine begins on the farm, and we have a good one.
The Perfect Meal Is… Situated around friends and family.
Food That Defines Summer on Long Island… Corn, tomatoes and shellfish—in any combination or solo.
Favorite Local Ingredient… Right now it’s the asparagus growing in my garden at home. I’ve been waiting 4 years to get a decent harvest.
The Moment You Knew Food Was Your Calling… I was in college and growing tired of waiting on tables. This was a very demanding fine-dining restaurant. One night, I went to the chef in the middle of service and asked if he had any positions open. I said I would take anything. The next day I was peeling potatoes and washing lettuce.
Word That Defines How You Feel About Food…Sustainable.
The World Ends Tomorrow. Your Last Meal Would Be… Most likely a meal that takes 3 days to prepare!
If You Didn’t Work in the World of Food, You’d Be… An organic farmer who also races NASCAR
When You Get to Foodie Heaven, the Guy at the Gate Will Say To You… Catering is Hell…go back there!
Dan’s Taste of Two Forks is Saturday, July 16, in Sayre Park in Bridgehampton, NY. For more info and to purchase tickets, click here.