25 Things We Love About Our Dan’s Taste of Summer Hosts

Look who's hosting Dan's Taste of Summer in 2015!
Look who's hosting Dan's Taste of Summer in 2015!

Dan’s Taste of Summer brings an all-star foodie lineup to the East End, with three fabulous tasting events held in July and August. First on tap is Dan’s GrillHampton presented by Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, which is co-hosted by Restaurant: Impossible star Robert Irvine and Marc Murphy, judge on Food Network’s Chopped, on July 17. Next, Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company returns for its fifth year on July 18, and it will be hosted by Katie Lee, co-host of the Food Network’s The Kitchen, and Michael Symon, star of ABC’s The Chew. Rounding out the events is Dan’s Harvest East End, which is hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian, co-host of Food Network’s The Kitchen and judge on Chopped. Here, we break down why we’re excited to chow down with the best of the best in local culinary culture.

Geoffrey Zakarian
1. Geoffrey Zakarian is not only co-host of Food Network’s The Kitchen, he’s a judge on Chopped, the cooking competition show that challenges chefs to craft dishes in a time-crunch, often with unconventional ingredients.

2. In 2011, Zakarian bested nine other culinary wizards on The Next Iron Chef on a season subtitled “Super Chefs.” Now holding the title of Iron Chef, he returned to the series as a Season 5 judge. His Iron Chef America specialty was Modern American.

3. His brand new Food Network show, with co-host Sunny Anderson, is Top 5 Restaurants, in which they countdown the best places in America to find eats such as pizza, BBQ and burgers.

4. He has four amazing, highly regarded metro-area restaurants: The Palm Court, The National and The Lambs Club in Manhattan; and The Water Club in Atlantic City. The Palm Court is at The Plaza Hotel, where he serves as culinary director. Zakarian’s cuisine is also available at sea. His restaurant Ocean Blue is aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Manhattan-based ship Breakaway.

5. Zakarian is the first Dan’s Taste of Summer triple-crown winner. He achieved the hat trick by serving as host of the inaugural GrillHampton in 2013, co-hosting Taste of Two Forks with his Kitchen co-star Katie Lee in 2014, and is now becoming the first celebrity host of Harvest East End.

Katie Lee
1. Co-host of The Kitchen, Hamptonite Katie Lee returns to host Taste of Two Forks for the second year in a row—making her the first Dan’s Taste of Summer host to helm the same event twice (2014/2015 GrillHampton host Robert Irvine shares this distinction).

2. Lee has a new cookbook inspired by summer in the Hamptons and local ingredients, appropriately titled Endless Summer Cookbook. “Summer is my favorite time of year and my favorite time to cook and entertain,” she says. The book features more than 100 recipes from her summer soirees.

3. Cooking is a way of life for Lee. She got her start in the kitchen at age 4. Growing up in a tight-knit West Virginia family, her Grandma Dora mentored Lee on preparing fresh vegetables from her grandfather’s garden and meat from the family’s cattle and pig farms.

4. Lee’s not just a cook—she’s a surfer chick. Summer mornings, she can be found catching a wave. In her debut novel Groundswell Lee tells a story of healing and love found through surfing.

5. She has a giving spirit. Lee is a member of the Entertainment Council for Feeding America, a national nonprofit that serves a network of food banks and fights to end hunger. She supports 96 Elephants, a Wildlife Conservation Society campaign to stop the killing of elephants in Africa.

Michael Symon
1. A Dan’s Taste of Summer newbie, Michael Symon has been a co-host of ABC’s The Chew, a daily food and lifestyle talk show, since 2011.

2. Symon is a native and resident of Cleveland, Ohio, where he is owner and chef of multiple area restaurants. He has been credited with saving that city’s downtown restaurant scene.

3. In 2007, Symon defeated all of the competition to win Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. Seven days later, he proved his mettle by winning his first battle on Iron Chef America.

4. Clearly a master of competitive cooking, Symon starred in Cook Like an Iron Chef on the Cooking Channel, and followed with Food Feuds, a Food Network show where he examines and ultimately judges heated food rivalries in cities around the country.

5. Symon is partly responsible for some pretty weird potato chips. He was spokeschef, with actress Eva Longoria, for Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest, where people submit new flavor ideas for a $1 million prize. Symon helped get Lay’s Cheesy Garlic Bread chips on shelves in 2013, and Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger chips in 2014.

Marc Murphy
1. Marc Murphy, a past GrillHampton judge, returns to Sayre Park in 2015 to serve as co-host of the third-annual event. He got his start judging high-profile food competitions when he joined Chopped in the inaugural season in 2009.

2. He has a West Village restaurant named Ditch Plains, after the Montauk beach, where Murphy first mastered the long board. His other Manhattan restaurants are Landmarc—with locations at Tribeca and Time Warner Center— and Kingside. He also has a catering company, Benchmarc Events.

3. Murphy just released his debut cookbook, Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking, featuring 130 comfort food classics reimagined. “It’s a cookbook that is accessible,” he says. “Simple ingredients and not a lot of steps. Easy things to make.”

4. An Institute of Culinary Education-trained chef, Murphy is among the most respected restaurateurs in New York. In fact, he’s the president of the New York State Restaurant Association’s Greater NYC Chapter and he sits on the board of Culintro, the culinary trade organization.

5. Murphy gives his time and support to a number of charitable causes, including City Harvest, which rescues fresh food that would have been thrown out for the needy.

Robert Irvine
1. A former British Royal Navy man and White House chef, Robert Irvine has appeared on numerous Food Network shows: Dinner: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America, Restaurant: Impossible and Restaurant Express, Food Network Star’s Star Salvation and Wedding: Impossible. He’s also competed on The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs and Iron Chef America.

2. Through six seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, he’s helped save numerous failing restaurants—all of them in two days with just $10,000.

3. In 2012, he married TNA Wrestling star Gail Kim, a former WWE Diva who became the Women’s Champion in her very first match. They met on the set of Dinner: Impossible when he served VIPs at WWE’s Summerslam.

4. Like his wife, Irvine (inset, left) is buff, and he rarely wears a chef’s jacket.

5. Irvine returns to host GrillHampton for his second summer. As we learned last year, this chef is full of energy, signing autographs, posing for pictures and sharing the microphone.

Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton presented by Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors on July 17, and continues on July 18, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company, both at Sayre Park, Bridgehampton. Dan’s Harvest East End is August 22 in Cutchogue. Get your tickets now at DansTasteofSummer.com.

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