Dan’s Harvest East End, celebrating local the food and wine culture, comes to McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue on August 22. The event will honor famed chef Guy Reuge, a James Beard-nominated chef and recipient of the prestigious Toque d’Argent award. Chef Reuge heads Mirabelle Restaurant, which will participate in Harvest East End, and Mirabelle Tavern, both in Stony Brook’s Three Village Inn. Here, he discusses his inspiration, the event, and the local culinary culture.
What are you most looking forward to about being part of Dan’s Harvest East End this year?
I think this event will bring back memories of the Barrel tastings we used to host with Starr Boggs and Michael Meehan 20 years ago, and I’m looking forward to it.
What inspired you to become a chef?
First my mother; and then the rich terroir of the Loire Valley where I grew up, picking wild mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, fruits and hunting for small birds and hare.
What drew you to Long Island, and to become a part of the culinary culture of the East End?
Long Island has been for me a decisive corner in my career, as I came here to open a restaurant back in 1983. The wine industry was in its infancy, and a new crop of farmers was emerging as well. All of the above made for a lot of excitement for moving forward.
How has the local food and wine culture changed since you’ve come to Long Island?
Early in the ’80s I saw the changing trend happening in this country. Long Island was not oblivious to it and it became imperative for me to stay connected with the efforts made in our community. Of course, the wine industry led the pack and continues to do so today, but the seafood industry was also able fill the gap and rallied to our need—better oysters, great fish in season, and the rebirth of the Peconic Bay scallop industry. We could almost be self-sufficient with our farms, meat, chicken, wild life, game, cheeses and now sea salt. It reminds me of my childhood.
What is the best pairing of food and East End wine?
Let’s pick a great year of Bedell cabernet blend, paired with a fabulous cote de boeuf from McCall on the grill and topped with Amagansett sea salt, ragout of Satur Farms braising greens and potato fondante, from any farm around us.
Tell us about how you merge French tradition with ingredients local to Long Island. What made you decide to place such a heavy emphasis on farm to table menu items?
It was easy for me to be inspired, as my upbringing was so similar to the country life of Long Island. I could find so many ingredients like the ones my mother used to cook. With the changes happening on this great island, it soon became imperative for me to follow a movement so beneficial for our future. I believe in it and my contribution is a small garden at the restaurant that my staff and I tend to.
Food that defines summer on the East End is:
All seafood, striped bass, tuna, corn, berries, summer squash, and rose wine.
When you hear “local,” what comes to mind?
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. Dan’s Harvest East End will be held on August 22. For more info, visit DansTaste.com.
Mirabelle Restaurant & Tavern, 150 Main Street, Stony Brook. 631-751-0555, lessings.com