Dan’s Taste of Summer Countdown: Chef Gray Gardell-Gross, 668 the Gigshack

Gray Gardell-Gross, Chef at 668 The Gig Shack in Montauk, Courtesy 668 The Gig Shack
Gray Gardell-Gross, Chef at 668 The Gig Shack in Montauk, Courtesy 668 The Gig Shack

As Gray Gardell-Gross, chef at 668 the Gigshack in Montauk, prepares to join the ultimate food-and-wine weekend of the year at Dan’s Taste of Summer, he talks local sourcing, finding inspiration in a classic and a whole new way you’ll be sipping Prosecco this summer.

What are you most looking forward to about being part of Dan’s Taste of Summer this year?
We love challenges at the Gigshack—and running a busy restaurant while trying to do your absolute best for Taste of Two Forks is definitely a challenge. I’m looking forward to coming up with something awesome!

Describe the moment you knew the culinary world was your passion?
It honestly didn’t start so early. I was stuck between how seriously I wanted to invest myself into the restaurant. But once I did, a bunch of my great friends joined me, and that’s what really makes it so fun for me. I wouldn’t want to do it without them.

What is your favorite aspect of being part of the culinary culture on the East End?
I’m a big red meat eater. I love the grill because it’s so natural to what I really love. What I love about being out in Montauk is that it forces me outside of my comfort zone. It kind of forces growth on me.

When you hear the phrase “local,” what comes to mind?
It’s a total pain in the butt to source the amount of ingredients we go through. But I can’t argue how much better the ingredients are. One of my good friends is opening up a farm in Amagansett—Faro Farms—and I can’t wait for tomato season.

Where do you find inspiration, inside and outside the kitchen?
If I’m really desperate I watch culinary movies; anything from Ratatouille to oldies like Babette’s Feast. Besides that, I love to find inspiration using my nose. I’m at my best making menu items when I’m just smelling matching ingredients.

What’s your favorite food- or drink- (or both!) related song and why:
“That’s Amore”—honestly, not so food related, but it’s beyond the most in-the-moment Pandora station to make pasta to.

If you were packing for an East End picnic, what are 3 things we’d find in your basket?
Well, for starts… I’m working. But if I weren’t, my family grew up eating the cured meats from Da Palo’s in the city, and that’s my favorite. You may just find that, pineapple and red wine.

What beverage are you looking forward to enjoying on a hot summer night?
Mimosas, day and night, ha ha. There’s this new concept going around of pint glasses of straight Prosecco, full of ice. Always have a good time doing that.

Finish this sentence: An empty plate is… If I’m at home, it needs to be refilled. If it’s at the restaurant, then woo-hoo!

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

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