Meet the Chef: James Carpenter

Chef James Carpenter
Chef James Carpenter, Photo: Courtesy James Carpenter

The restaurant at East Hampton Point and Marina has a new chef and menu as classy as its view. In April, Executive Chef James Carpenter came aboard—pun intended—to the waterfront restaurant and marina overlooking Three Mile Harbor. I spoke to Carpenter in the lush bar lounge next to a jaw-dropping full-size mahogany sloop with a mast that reaches the custom-built ceiling cupola.

Just outside is a covered deck with tables, couches, a bar and space for bands that play on weekends, all looking out on the yacht-filled marina. Everything is crisp white and navy blue striped, with colorful fresh flowers everywhere.

Carpenter comes to this lovely setting at East Hampton Point with plenty of experience at some of the Hamptons’ best-known eateries, including Della Femina, “the best owner I ever worked for.” Carpenter says “he never complained.”

He also worked at The American Hotel and The Living Room at c/o The Maidstone. Carpenter earned accolades from The New York Times and three stars from Newsday while heading the kitchen at The Living Room. Carpenter grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. He was in the military where he earned a scuba diving certification and spent time in exotic locales like Cuba and Puerto Rico. He apprenticed in New Orleans at Bayona, with Louis Osteen at Charleston’s Louis’ and Gunther Seeger at Atlanta’s Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. His experience in Manhattan began at Aquavit before he moved to the Hamptons 15 years ago to start up Savannah’s in Southampton.

Carpenter was one of the Hamptons’ first chefs to prioritize slow food and the use of local, organic produce, meat and seafood in his kitchen.

“With all the wonderful resources out here it doesn’t make sense to do anything else,” says Carpenter.

Sample items on Carpenter’s new menu even name the farms where the food is sourced including Howard Dickell Oysters, Satur Farm Baby Lettuce; Creamy Bonac Clam Chowder with Long Island potatoes & thyme; Local Littleneck Clams and Balsam Farms spring vegetables. With guest suites on the property and a marina, the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on Sundays seven days a week.

“Coming here was a bit of a challenge,” says Carpenter, sipping sparkling water. “Every time you move somewhere (new) it’s starting all over again, but I brought most of my crew with me so that has eased things a bit. We’re looking to make this a year-round destination, so that’s another challenge. We’ve been doing some very large events—private parties with fireworks over the harbor, weddings—right away, so that’s been an additional element.”

The biggest event he’s done so far?

“The East Hampton High School Prom! It was huge, hundreds of families.”

All this leaves Carpenter with little free time.

“I grew up around boats—my father started the Tarrytown Yacht Club, but even if I had a boat at this beautiful marina, I couldn’t use it, I’m so busy,” he laughs. “The owner here has several boats so I could go out on one of his if I had time. When I’m at home in East Hampton I just like to hang out with my Dalmatian, Dante, by the pool. About once very two weeks I escape the Hamptons—like anyone needs to escape from here—to the city to check out new restaurants. There aren’t a lot of good ethnic places out here, so that’s what I like to try. I go to Mission in Chinatown, and I like to check out Eataly in the Flatiron District. I don’t have any kids, so it leaves me free to just pick up off-season and maybe fly to Napa Valley for the weekend.”

East Hampton Point, 295 Three Mile Harbor/Hog Creek Road, East Hampton, 631-329-2800

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