“When I think about ‘local,’” says Topping Rose House Pastry Chef Cassandra Shupp, “I think about the farms in the area, the fishermen that bring in our seafood they caught hours prior, and wine tasting at the many local wineries that are located on both the North and South Forks.”
When the best of the North and South Forks comes to mind, so, naturally, does Dan’s Taste of Summer, where Shupp will be joining the chefs, winemakers and local purveyors as part of the premier food-and-wine weekend on the East End.
This year the weekend comprising Taste of Two Forks and GrillHampton has been dubbed Dan’s Taste of Summer. What does the phrase “taste of summer” mean to you?
If I were to take a bite out of the phrase “taste of summer,” I’d want to taste: the warm sun, fresh fruits and vegetables, cool drinks, the beach, and relaxing. A “taste of summer,” in my mind, is a culmination of the things I look forward in having or doing most during the warmer months. As a pastry chef, this is also the best season since many of the fruits are beautifully ripened and available to use for the menu.
What are you most looking forward to about being part of Dan’s Taste of Summer?
Since this is my first year, I’m simply excited to be a part of the event as a whole.
Describe the moment you knew the culinary world was your passion?
During college in North Carolina, I worked in a casual upscale restaurant, but as part of the front of the house team. I remember always being jealous of the cooks in the back who were creating new dishes that I had never been exposed to before. I love to eat, so I felt that they had the ultimate job in the restaurant.
What is your favorite aspect of being part of the culinary culture on the East End?
Moving out from the city two years ago, it’s been a welcoming change in scenery since it’s so beautiful out here. We’re fortunate, as chefs, to be surrounded by so many farms and farmers who are all pleasant to work with. It’s always neat thinking about how fresh our product is and how lucky we are to be able to use our local resources.
Where do you find inspiration, inside and outside the kitchen?
Inspiration can be found everywhere. Inside the kitchen, I look to what fruits are in season and talk to coworkers about their favorite dishes. Outside of the kitchen, I look to seasonal fruit in grocery stores, websites, cookbooks, and talk to friends and family.
What’s your favorite food- or drink-related song?
“Whiskey Girl” by Toby Keith. I was introduced to my first whiskey, in the south, during college and this song always seems to put a smile on my face.
If you were packing for an East End picnic, what are three things we’d find in your basket?
Cheese from Cavaniola’s Cheese Shop in Sag Harbor, a bottle of wine from Wölffer or Channing Daughters wineries, and crudité from one of the local farm stands.
What beverage are you looking forward to enjoying on a hot summer night?
Finish this sentence: An empty plate is… a happy stomach.
Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton on Friday, July 11, and continues on Saturday, July 12 with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, both at Sayre Park, 156 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton. For more information on both events, including tickets and VIP packages, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.