Dan’s Taste of Summer’s Best Bites: GrillHampton, Taste of Two Forks

Dan Rattiner with Taste of Two Forks hosts Katie Lee and Geoffrey Zakarian
Dan Rattiner with Taste of Two Forks hosts Katie Lee and Geoffrey Zakarian. Photo credit: Nicholas Chowske

This year’s Dan’s Taste of Summer, featuring Friday’s GrillHampton competition between NYC and Hamptons chefs and Dan’s Fourth Annual Taste of Two Forks on Saturday, provided a wealth of rich foodie experiences. To bring it all to life, Dan’s Papers staffers offer the following morsels:

With ties to both Delmonico’s in NYC and Delmonico’s of Southampton, Executive Chef Billy Oliva honored both legacies with “our version of surf-and-turf” at GrillHampton, serving BBQ Short Rib with Spicy Shrimp Slaw. But for the competition, since he was cooking for Team Hamptons, was he worried about dividing his loyalties? “I know, I know,” he said with a smile and glance to the NYC and East End chefs to his left and right. “I’m ready to have chefs throwing things at me from both sides!”

Overheard at GrillHampton: “This is how you use a tent. They should get rid of the acrobats at Cirque du Soleil and bring in these guys.”

Following the guests-were-still-talking-about-it-a-year-later success of last year’s French Onion Soup Burger, Le Rivage Executive Chef Paul Denamiel brought the dish that generated the longest line of the night, L’Aristocrat Burger—La Frieda Denim Blue Blend with Montamore Cheese, Ventreche Bacon and Sir Kensington Mustard on a Thomas’s English Muffin. “This is the first time it’s been served, anywhere in the world, and I think people will love it,” he said. That was an understatement. If you go to Le Rivage with a hankerin’ for this bit of magic on a muffin, you won’t find it on the menu, but Denamiel let us in on a little secret: “It’s like one of those secret menu items, just ask for it.”

Master of multitasking Robert Irvine arrived straight from visiting servicemen and women in North Carolina to host GrillHampton. Posing for a photo, signing an autograph and enjoying a taste of Brazilian Pichana with Smoked Lobster Chimichurri all at one time, the Restaurant: Impossible star was his effervescent self. “I’m absolutely starving, but obviously I’ve come to the right place! The smell, the activity, it’s absolutely amazing. This is a great night.” Not only was Irvine a magnanimous and fun host—making time for everyone—he also directed some primal screams and dancing that won’t soon be forgotten.

Robert Irvine inspires a good scream at GrillHampton, Photo: Daniel Gonzalez

Scene at the Casamigos Tequila Booth:
Him: This stuff’s made by George Clooney. Her: He makes it? Really? Him: He doesn’t actually squeeze the stuff. Her: Is George Clooney coming? (Downs shot). Him: (Downs shot) A few more and I’ll be George Clooney. Her: I don’t think there’s enough tequila here for that. Can I have another?

T Bar NYC Executive Chef Ben Zwicker, dishing on what the competitive aspect of GrillHampton brings to the evening. “The cooking and being around so many great chefs is what we’re here for, but the competition adds another level. It’s like placing a bet on the World Cup—it’s something great and exciting, but it adds a little something extra, right?”

Staring in wonder at a piece of char-grilled corn on the cob dusted with Cotija cheese and chili powder from Smokin’ Wolf BBQ, a GrillHampton guest marveled, “If there’s heaven, they’re serving me this every single night.”

Toast overheard at GrillHampton: “Blue Moon tonight. Supermoon tomorrow.”

Overheard at GrillHampton: “This is like a carnivore’s dream.”

Yes, that was the theme from The Flintstones being hummed and whistled and sung in celebration of 1 North Steakhouse’s massive and marvelous roasted marrow bone, served with the “Filet” of Ribeye and a Ribeye Pinwheel stuffed with goat cheese and local spinach.

Who ever thought there’d be a Roomba for the grill? The Grillbot automatic grill cleaner made it so, as seen at GrillHampton.

Nancy Atlas’s vocal and guitar stylings owned the crowd on Friday, but just to her right, guitarist Johnny Blood absolutely shredded throughout the evening.

Nancy Atlas and Johnny Blood at GrillHampton
Nancy Atlas and Johnny Blood at GrillHampton, Photo: Daniel Gonzalez

Was that Mr. T we saw on the social media wall? His message? “I pity the fool who don’t grill!”

Mr. T at GrillHampton
Mr. T: “I pity the fool who don’t grill!” Photo: @danspapers

While meat took center stage, sweet treats like the Sorbabes’ Organic Peanut Banana Sorbet with Chocolate Fudge provided a wonderful “cleanse” for the palate.

Sorbabes GrillHampton
Sorbabes dish sweet treats at GrillHampton, Photo: @danspapers

Chef Arthur Wolf of Smokin’ Wolf BBQ made ribs that gave new meaning to the words “tender” and “delicious.”

Smokin' Wolf Ribs and cotija corn
Smokin’ Wolf Ribs at GrillHampton, Photo: @danspapers

Guests so loved the café con leche and mocha coffee coolers from Cafe Bustelo, not a single can remained by night’s end. Some folks grabbed cans for the road!

Cafe Bustelo
Michelle Vigo passes out Cafe Bustelo espresso drinks, Photo: Daniel Gonzalez

On Saturday Jason Belkin revealed that, in addition to his signature coffee and espresso drinks, he brought a “secret menu” to Taste of Two Forks…iced coffee! The drink was so heavily requested last year that Belkin decided to bring it for 2014, but you could only get it if you asked…

Mattituck’s Old Mill Inn staff has traversed the two forks to reach Bridgehampton all four years, and owner Bia Lowe was excited to be a part of an event that showcased the best culinary traditions of the East End. She noted, “It’s a short season, but a beautiful one.”

Southampton Social Club chef Scott Kampf said that he has learned how to craft the perfect sampling over the years, this year bringing a bite-sized crab cake. The melt-in-your mouth morsel allows one of your hands to cradle a glass of Long Island wine. (And the inclusion of raw, fresh peppers gave it a nice crunch.)

19-year-old chef Greg Grossman of Georgica was attending his first Dan’s Taste of Two Forks a full two years before his peers would be allowed in, as it’s a 21-and-over event! “I drive off of local seafood,” he said of the Georgica menu.

Surprise! Though the chilled heirloom tomato soup with lobster and corn salsa was nice and thick, there was no cream in it. Ideal for those who wish to avoid dairy.

Michael Mosolino of the Deli Counter Fine Foods & Catering in Southampton brought a roasted cauliflower slaw and Andy Mosolino’s Take & Bake Pizza Display. “It’s been smooth sailing, like every year’s,” he commented on the event’s efficient setup.

The award for most unique dish may have gone to First and South. Chef Taylor Knapp brought a duck liver éclair, combining the sweet and savory. “Similar to putting cheese on an apple pie,” an observer noted.

Matt Purpura of Tito’s Handmade Vodka noted that this was his favorite event of the year. He created a summery concoction for the evening, a refreshing treat that combined the signature vodka with ginger beer for those looking to cool off.

Newcomer Harlow East clearly knows how to make it in the Hamptons. Their lobster sliders (with Montauk lobster) seemed to go particularly quickly.

Of course all of this is just a “taste” of that which was on offer at GrillHampton and Dan’s Taste of Two Forks. We hope to see you there next July taking it all in!

And don’t miss Dan’s Harvest East End, coming August 23 at McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue! Visit harvesteastend.com for more info.

The chefs gather at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, Photo: Daniel Gonzalez

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