The Executive Chefs at Café Oso were admittedly nervous about catering the recent private breakfast for the chefs of Dan’s Taste of Two Forks. But a look at their respective pedigrees shows it was just another day at the office.
Kurt Hauquitz, Executive Chef, has been at Oso for three years, while Executive Pastry Chef Morgan Larsson joined this past May to augment and complement Hauquitz.
Together they provide top-notch meals and catering for the guests of Southampton Inn. Café Oso, the Inn’s annual summer pop-up restaurant, emerged this year as a European-style patisserie, offering bounty of specialty sweets, as well as a farm-to-table dining experience. That includes freshly picked vegetables and herbs from the Inn’s thriving garden out behind the pool, with an 8-foot-high fence to keep the ravenous deer and bunnies away.
New Yorkers may know born and raised Long Islander Hauquitz as the creator of the award-winning Holey Moses Cheesecake, which specializes in creamy cheesecakes in over 15 flavors. The cheesecakes were ranked #1 by the Daily News and received the Outstanding Dessert Award at the New York Fancy Food Show. What was the secret? Like Hamptons real estate: location, location, location. Baked in a tube pan instead of a spring form, the huge, 4-inch-high cake has a hole in the middle, just like an angel food cake or a bagel.
“We realized the problem with cheesecake collapsing and cracking in the middle was because of the pan,” says Hauquitz. “Once we switched to a tube pan, it solved the problem.”
Hauquitz has had other high-profile work catering the Olympics Games in Athens and many events on the East End. A true native, he grew up baking and cooking with his family. He body surfs, kayaks and clams in his free time.
Chef Morgan Larsson had a much more globally circuitous route to Café Oso. Born and raised in Sölvesborg, Sweden, he trained in traditional Swedish pastry alongside his father in his family’s bakery. He continued his pastry studies at Konditori Svea in Sweden before relocating to Los Angeles in 1990, where he met and married his wife, Karole. He had a short stint in Dubai before settling in New York in 1993, where he began baking at the Windows on the World.
“Now that was a big experience,” he says of his time at the financial and political powerhouse eatery atop the World Trade Center. “The kitchen took up the whole 106th floor. The restaurant took up 50,000 square feet. We did 1,800 meals a day, the dinner tables turned over four times a night. We served 500 meals before 5 p.m. It was really something.”
Larsson left in 1999, and in 2000, its final full year of operation, Windows on the World reported revenues of $37 million, making it the highest-grossing restaurant in the world. Then the planes hit. Larsson lost many former colleagues and a few weeks after 9/11 he got a call from the FBI saying they had found his former ID card intact in a safe in the rubble.
From there, he went uptown to The Russian Tea Room for eight years, where regular guests included Bill and Hilary Clinton as well as performers from nearby Carnegie Hall.
Larsson likes to bike and run to work off all that rich pastry, which he now does on scenic trails and beaches as opposed to Central Park.
Settled into Café Oso, the chef duo is twice as nice, wowing diners with freshly baked croissants, kardemumma braid (bread), brioche, danishes, muffins and pain au chocolate, served with locally made jellies and preserves. Lunch has tapas-style small plates of lobster rolls and salmon pinwheels great for lunch or a late afternoon snack by the pool. Multiple banquet rooms host weddings, parties, anniversaries and more. Oso means “bear” in Spanish, and diners are advised to bring similar post-hibernation appetites.
Café Oso at Southampton Inn, 91 Hill Street, Southampton, 631-283-1166. For more information, visit southamptoninn.com