“As a traveler I’ve really come to understand how much the environment you’re in amplifies a dish,” says Gray Gardell-Gross, head chef at Montauk’s 668 The Gig Shack. “Pasta always seems better in Italy and the steaks seem better in Argentina. Just like our tuna tartare taquitos are great in Montauk in the summer!” Gardell-Gross will be bringing the Gig Shack’s signature goodness to Dan’s Taste of Summer this year.
What are you most looking forward to about being part of Dan’s Taste of Summer this year?
It’s always exciting how the Taste of Summer sneaks up on you. Out in Montauk June can be hit-or-miss, so July 4th weekend is really when things get rolling out here. [Soon after that it’s Dan’s Taste of Summer, so] it’s a serious balancing act between that and the Gig Shack that weekend. But a challenge like that is always fun!
What is one food or dish that everyone should try at least once in life?
Hard to say. As a traveler I’ve really come to understand how much the environment you’re in amplifies a dish. Pasta always seems better in Italy and the steaks seem better in Argentina. Just like our tuna tartar taquitos are great in Montauk in the summer!
What is the best pairing of food and local beer?
I’m not a super picky drinker, but right now we are serving a “Locals Fish n’ Chips” with local Tilefish and local Montauk Brewery’s IPA beer batter. Eat that and have a pint of their beer on the side, I can’t see how there could be anything wrong with that.
What would we find inside your frige right now?
Huge tubs of fresh seafood. Tilefish, tuna, live lobster, clams, mussels, scallops and more. We probably serve 75 percent seafood, and the rest we just throw in the smoker! It really shows off what travelers to Montauk really want.
The perfect drink for a summer night:
The “Bill Murray.” Rumor has it, when Bill Murray goes to his summer home he just fills up garbage cans with champagne and ice, and that’s all he drinks. The bubbles keep you light and energetic and the ice waters it down enough so you never get too drunk.
Food that defines an East End summer:
It’s all about good tomatoes and corn.
What is your favorite local ingredient?
Honestly, my butcher in the store next door. There’s so much inconsistency with beef through the large distributer, and I really appreciate being able to pay a dollar or two more and pick out exactly which steaks I want.
When you hear “local,” what comes to mind?
Surfers, ha, ha, but on a serious note, the community. Produce is a lot cooler when your friend is the farmer, and so is getting the fish from the guy you go out drinking with after work…
If you were to pack a meal for the beach, what are three things you’d bring?
Actually I’ve learned that the only thing worse than bringing food to the beach is a girl…
A great meal always begins with…
A family argument? Ha, ha, that or good cheese and cured meats!
Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton on July 17, and continues on July 18, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, both at Sayre Park, 156 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton. Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, rounds out the trio of events on August 22 in Cutchogue. For more information on all three events, including tickets and VIP packages, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.