Dining Features

Chatting with Bistro 72 Chef James Junk

“Everyone must try Long Island Duck from Crescent Farms in Aquebogue,” says chef James Junk of Bistro 72, the restaurant inside Hotel Indigo East End in Riverhead. Junk will join a number of Long Island chefs and wineries at the annual Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, held on July 18 at Sayer Park in Bridgehampton, and Dan’s Harvest East End, held on August 22 at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. Here, he talks about the local culinary culture.

What are you most looking forward to about being part of Dan’s Harvest East End this year?
It’s our favorite event of the year; the biggest celebration of everything that epitomizes the East End of Long Island. I love to see everyone enjoying all the riches the East End has to offer.

One food everyone should try at least once in life:
Everyone must try Long Island Duck from Crescent Farms in Aquebogue. There is no finer duck available anywhere. Period.

If you were to eat at your restaurant as a guest, what would you order?
To start we’d have mussels, which are served in our Long Ireland Beer broth; and calamari which is lightly breaded and served with a trio of dipping sauces—sweet chili, hoisin and spicy peanut. For dinner we’d order the scallops and the duck…

The perfect drink for a summer night:
An ice cold Gypsy Red from Crooked Ladder Brewing Company.

Food that defines summer on the East End:
You can’t beat the seafood.

Favorite East End-inspired meal?
Duck, prepared any way really. I remember growing up with duck farms all around. Long Island was always synonymous with duck farming. I’m happy to serve Crescent Farm’s duck on our menu at Bistro 72, but it saddens me that they are the only remaining duck farm on Long Island from which to source.

What is your favorite local ingredient?
We’re fortunate on the East End to have produce available right around every corner…It’s hard to choose just one favorite.

What is your favorite aspect of being part of the culinary culture on the East End?
The camaraderie amongst the chefs. As a member of the ACF Eastern Long Island Chapter, I’m able to work with my colleagues at other restaurants and not against them. I truly believe that we succeed as a region when we all work together. As the saying goes, “a high tide lifts all boats.”

When you hear “local,” what comes to mind?
Family. These farms, wineries and restaurants are mostly owned by local families, not big corporations. I know the owners, and their children. I know they work hard to succeed just like me…I grew up on the East End. These are my people.

Where do you find inspiration?
I love photography. And no surprise, I especially love to photograph food. But I love all the arts.

Make a toast to East End wine:
I’m Irish so: Sláinte

Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton presented by Pat LeFrieda Meat Purveyors on Friday, July 17, and continues on Saturday, July 18, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company, 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.

Bistro 72 at Hotel Indigo East End, 1830 West Main Street, Riverhead. 631-369-3325, bistro-72.com.

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