Master Chef Johndavid Hensley of Greek Bites Grill in Southampton cannot help but wax poetic about food—creating it, sharing it, enjoying it, basking in its glory. “The opportunity to share something of the heart, soul and passion of one’s life is the definition of enriching another’s so that they may carry it forward to another and another,” says the renowned member of the Hamptons culinary scene. As he prepares to share both his passion and incredible fare at the second annual Dan’s Taste of Two Forks on July 14, we chatted with him about perfect summer drinks, the bounty of the East End and what he would ask of the culinary gods.
What Are You Most Looking Forward to at the Dan’s Taste of Two Forks Event: At Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, I am most looking forward to saying hello to old friends, meeting new friends and bringing them together with the beauty and grace that is held by participating in charity that helps other people outside of ourselves, instilling the “pay it forward” mentality that I believe is important today.
What is one food or dish that everyone should try at least once their in life? The one food dish I believe that everyone should experience once in their lifetime is that of eating with a total stranger, as difficult as that may seem. The discovery, the humility, the “outside the box” thinking will allow you to really know just how in synch our lives are amongst the world we live in.
Describe your relationship with food in three words: My relationship with food in three words? Open-minded, passionate, encompassing all the senses.
What quality do you most admire in a chef? The quality I admire most about chefs is that we are all artists in some form. Some impressionists, some traditionalists, so abstract. Myself…a Renaissance man and all of the above.
What would be your one request of the cooking gods? My one request of the cooking gods would be to have saffron made the World Flower. Every region has a state bird, flower or logo. Make saffron the World Flower.
If I looked inside your refrigerator right now, what would I find? If you looked inside my refrigerator right now you would find champagne for the spontaneous moments. I appreciate butter, as Paula Dean and I both believe that everything is better with butter (lol). Flour tortillas, as they are one of the most versatile foods created, and lots of fruit, as sitting together with friends, company and guests in the summer nights is always refreshing with fresh fruit at your fingertips. Oh, yes, one more thing—cheeses. Really artisanal, local Catapano Farms chevre, as well as Scottos fresh mozzarella and a really earthy gorgonzola to help strengthen the libido.
The Perfect Drink for a Summer Night: The perfect drink on a summer night for me would be sangria. The drink changes as you consume it, with eating the fruit and enjoying it to the bottom. Greek Bites Grill in Southampton has a wonderful white “sangrila” that is out of this world and people go crazy for its style.
Food That Defines Summer on Long Island: The food that defines Long Island in the summer is definitely seafood. We are truly blessed, for the world is our oyster with a bounty of the sea at our door. With the vineyards, farms and sea, we have the makings of a perfect life.
If you had two forks in your hands right now, what would you like to stick them in: If had two forks in my hand right now, I would stick them in Greenport and Southampton while eating my heart away. These two towns are leading the way amongst the food scene with great places, great chefs and a more educated consumer. Restaurants in these two areas are “getting it.”
The World Ends Tomorrow. Your Last Meal Would Be: If the world ended tomorrow, my last meal would be a whole roasted chicken, remembering the days eating at home with mom and family while learning about traditions, dreams and love.
What Are Your Favorite Local Ingredients: My favorite local ingredient here on the East End is wine. Versatile, diverse and some of the best quality to be found anywhere on the earth. Besides, “man cannot live on water alone.”
What Is Your Guilty Food/Drink Pleasure These Days: My guilty food pleasure these days in chocolate—touching it, tasting it, smelling the aroma, playing with it outside of the imagination or norm.
What’s Great About Being Part of the Cuisine Culture on the East End: The greatest part of being part of the cuisine culture here on the East End is that we are the doorway of the world. People from all over this great globe come here to learn, relax, play, fall in love, and spend the rest of their lives here, as it is truly paradise.
What do you consider a chef’s most underrated virtue? A chef’s most underrated virtue is hard to describe, as most never get the opportunity to venture outside their kitchen door. My most underrated virtue, I believe, is grace. I am truly the humble servant who falls in love with the idea of sharing the food experience with a customer. Excitement, experience and passion are contagious when displayed properly.
Finish This Sentence: The Perfect Meal Is…: Good times, great friends, grand food = Priceless memories.
The second annual Dan’s Taste of Two Forks is Saturday, July 14, at Sayre Park in Bridgehampton. Click here for more information and to get your tickets now!