Talking with Chef Matt Birnstill of The Quogue Club

“Inspiration comes from so many places especially with all the incredible local farms, fresh fish, wines and beers,” says Matt Birnstill, the chef at the Quogue Club at Hallock House. Birnstill will showcase his creations at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company on Saturday, July 18. Here, he talks about how he creates his menu, and the importance of eating local.

What are you most looking forward to about being part of Dan’s Taste of Summer this year?
It’s a social event. I love speaking with participants, guests and some old chef friends from the East End. I think this year it will be particularly exciting because The Quogue Club at Hallock House is so new, and it will be a great opportunity for us to share more information about the dining experience at the hotel, which is only available to hotel guests staying at the Club

One food or dish that everyone should try at least once in life:
Sichuan beef tendon. We host a variety of special dinners at the Quogue Club which are open only to members and hotel guests. This year we served a comprehensive Chinese New Year’s menu, which we cooked ourselves. I pride myself on continuously evolving and rotating menu at the Club.

What is the best pairing of food and Long Island beer? Long Island wine?Harbor Brewery’s (Greenport) Otherside IPA with anything spicy, such as our Tuna Tataki which is served with Togarashi Spice (a seven-ingredient Japanese spice) and the Blind Bat Brewery’s Hickory & Maple Smoked Brown Ale with The Quogue Club Burger which is served with gruyere and our own Special QC Sauce. For Long Island wines, I love Paumonok’s Late Harvest Riesling which pairs well with the Almond Peach Financier with vanilla gelato and local berry cobbler that is regularly on our dessert menu.

If you were to eat at your restaurant as a guest, what would you order?I love our pizza, as it is fresh out of our own wood-burning oven. I would order our Parma Pizza with duck prosciutto, arugula, fresh mozzarella and saba (reduced grape must).

Describe the adrenaline of working in a Hamptons kitchenThe adrenaline is 24/7 from Memorial Day at 5 p.m. when The Quogue Club restaurant opens to our members and hotel guests, and it doesn’t shut down until well after Labor Day. Our kitchen and staff is collaborative, creative and always on!

What drew you to work on the East End?
I couldn’t stand westbound traffic anymore!

Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton presented by Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors on Friday, July 17, and continues on Saturday, July 18, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company, both at Sayre Park, 156 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton. Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, rounds out the trio of events on August 22 in Cutchogue. For more information on all three events, including tickets and VIP packages, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.

If we looked inside your refrigerator right now, what would we find?
The refrigerator at The Quogue Club would have pickled ramps (ramps are wild leeks), our sous chef’s pineapple moonshine (the key ingredient in his barbeque sauce) and black angus strip steak.

The perfect drink for a summer night:
On a warm summer night, I like any type of cold beer. The perfect drink for any summer night on the patio of The Quogue Club is one of the many created by our head bartender Mar,k including our Blood Orange Martini and the classic Quogue drink popular at many private cocktail parties—the Dark ‘n’ Stormy—which he makes with organic ginger beer and rum.

Food that defines summer on the East End:
Beets, corn and tomatoes, which are found on every Hamptons menu in the summer. On the menu at The Quogue Club, I like to incorporate these foods by adding roasting beets for our Roasted Beet Arugula Salad with pickled cherries, pepitas and goat cheese; making corn chow chow (a side salad for our Salmon entrée); and smoking tomatoes for our wood-oven melanzana pizza.

If you had two forks in your hands right now, what would you like to stick them in?
Anything someone else cooks for me!

Favorite East End-inspired meal?
An outdoor BBQ like the Americana one we created for our club members and hotel guests on Memorial Day weekend that included Kielbasa and Bratwurst with homemade sauerkraut served with a side of black eyed peas succotash.

What is your favorite local ingredient?
Hands down, fish. Striped bass cheeks, blue fish, black fish and so many others, all of which we feature all summer long at the Quogue Club.

What is your favorite aspect of being part of the culinary culture of the East End?
The chefs I have worked with and the people I have met from farmers to fishermen who also share a passion for food and the community. What I really love about being the chef at The Quogue Club is the sense of community that imbues the club from the property with its gorgeous public rooms to its family friendliness to the work of members that benefits our very special hotel guests (like our Wine Committee that curates our wine list).

When does the word “local “ mean to you?
Patty at Early Girl Farms and Ian at Balsam Farms. Patty’s lettuces and Ian’s fingerling potatoes are on our Club menu from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes from so many places especially with all the incredible local farms, fresh fish, wines and beers. In the kitchen I am always inspired by new ways to make delectable salads from fresh ingredients. Our member and hotel guests rave about our continuously rotating selection of first course greens! Outside the kitchen, I love the vineyards on the North Fork and how I can incorporate wine into our vinaigrettes, sauces and glazes.

The Quogue Club at Hallock House, 47 Quogue Street, Quogue 631-653-0100, quogueclub.com

Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton presented by Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors on Friday, July 17, and continues on Saturday, July 18, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company, both at Sayre Park, 156 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton. Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, rounds out the trio of events on August 22 in Cutchogue. For more information on all three events, including tickets and VIP packages, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.

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