Lynn Calvo, who puts the Lynn in the Polynesian slice of Montauk that is Lynn’s Hula Hut—along with such culinary creations as her clam chili and cocktails like Hula Hula Juice (“My personal favorite,” she says. “Four perfectly blended rums infused with fresh pineapple, a splash of fresh pineapple juice and a squeeze of fresh lime—amazing!”)—dishes on culinary passion, the power of a spicy chocolate bar and joining Dan’s Taste of Two Forks during Dan’s Taste of Summer weekend on July 11 and 12.
What does the phrase “taste of summer” mean to you?
I think of fresh seafood—the lobsters, clams and fish fresh from the Montauk harbor—fresh herbs and vegetables from the farmers market, and deliciously refreshing cocktails.
What are you most looking forward to about being part of Dan’s Taste of Summer this year?
I’m excited to be in the company of some really amazing chefs. There are so many great restaurants on the East End of Long Island.
Describe the moment you knew the culinary world was your passion?
Although I’ve never been formally trained in the culinary arts, my inspiration came from my grandparents. My heritage is Spanish and Italian. My ancestors came to this country with no training of their own, yet everything that came out of my grandmother’s kitchen was five-star. She grew her own vegetables and fruits, and my grandfather made his own wine and grappa that was infused with figs and pears that my grandmother grew. Passion went into every meal, every dish. It really became obvious to me later on when I began traveling extensively. I love the small mom-and-pop inns along dirt roads off the main drag in little villages, where the menu is on a chalkboard and all the ingredients are fresh. The thing that was my greatest influence was some 20 years ago when a small Mayan lady on the side of the road in Tulum offered me a chocolate bar. It was sweet and hot and peppery at the same time—it was infused with chili peppers. That experience was the inspiration for the Mayan Chocolate Martini at Lynn’s Hula Hut.
What is your favorite aspect of being part of the culinary culture on the East End?
It is the fact that we have the freshest seafood and a rich and thriving agricultural community here. Many of the restaurant patrons on the East End have a sophisticated palette and an acute sense of appreciation for the quality and passion that goes into everything we do.
When you hear “local,” what comes to mind?
Aside from the cast of very colorful characters in Montauk —I won’t mention names, as to protect the “not so innocent,” and I mean that in a loving and respectful way—the fishermen and the farmers market are what I think of when I hear local.
What’s your favorite food-and-drink-related song?
The song that comes to mind is “Nice and Warm” by Tab Benoit, for which he earned a Grammy nomination. He turned me on to barbecued oysters down in Louisiana. I was hooked. We have beautiful oysters on the East End, and I love to cook them over an open fire with some chopped shallots, a dab of clarified butter and a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
If you were packing for an East End picnic, what are three things we’d find in your basket?
I’d grab a bottle of sauvignon blanc or a mason jar of my Hukilau Lemonade—ginger lemongrass infused vodka with lemon water and agave. Then I’d add some ceviche and fresh tomato salsa with chips or crackers. That’s the perfect picnic trio.
An empty plate is… the ultimate compliment.
Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks of with GrillHampton on Friday, July 11, followed by Taste of Two Forks on Saturday, July 12. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit DansTaste.com.