Dan’s Taste of Summer Countdown: Chef Marco Pellegrini, Caci North Fork

Photo: Courtesy Caci North Fork

Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, will be held on Saturday, August 20, at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. Chef Marco Pellegrini of Caci North Fork in Southold will be there offering tastes of his delicious fare. As he says about Caci’s philosophy, “We strive to fuse together North Fork and authentic Central/Northern Italian cuisine and culture. It’s very important to use local ingredients and wine and to pair them with imported high-end Italian ingredients. I love to educate people on my traditions and have them experience my history.”

What fuels your creativity as a chef?
My creativity comes from breaking people’s expectations of food. I like to take local ingredients, or ingredients people may often cook with, and reinvent them in a really creative and unexpected way.

What local ingredients will you be using this summer?
The summer brings a bounty of local ingredients that brighten up our menu and our palates with the new season. We love 8 Hands Farm, we use their tomatoes, eggs and chickens. The local greens from Satur Farms are a great component to our summer salad. This year we’re incorporating local Orient oysters. However, we have to be most excited about Breeze Hill Farm blueberries and Wickham’s Fruit Farm peaches.

What do you think of the Montauk Fishburger Project?
I think it’s important to educate the younger generations on the pride of the local community and ingredients. There’s a bounty of high-quality, fresh ingredients right in our backyard. Fishing and farming are a part of our roots here on the East End and I think it’s amazing to instill that pride and education in the youth.

What’s your local beverage or cocktail of choice for this summer?
Our Blueberry Smash is amazing! We use Breeze Hill Farm blueberries and combine them with fresh lemon juice, and Bulleit Bourbon. The quality of the blueberries really shines through and it’s so refreshing. I’m obsessed with a few wines for the summer: Croteaux Vineyards wines, Chenin Blanc from Paumanok Vineyards, and Brut Seduction from Sparkling Pointe.

Which of your dishes would you most like to serve to another chef?
Our basil-infused, homemade ravioli stuffed with imported Burrata cheese and topped with a local cherry tomato sauce. Our Grilled Veal Chop is amazing. We prepare the veal chop on our wood-fired grill and finish it with aromatic herb oil. The dish is so simple and showcases the quality of the meat and our grill.

How has the gluten-free eating trend affected your menu?
Not so much. Aside from our pasta, our cooking style is mostly gluten-free. There are a lot of wonderful gluten-free options and we’re really accommodating to all dietary restrictions.

What are you most looking forward to at Dan’s Harvest East End?
I’m most looking forward to experiencing the creativity and technique of other chefs. I know a lot of us will be using local, in-season ingredients and I’m excited to see each chef put their own twist on them.

Please complete this sentence: My mother would not approve of my…
combination of blueberry chutney with sea scallops. This is a very modern way to prepare the scallops, but she would approve of the flavor I get from combining Taggiasche Olives and Capers with the sea scallops. This is a more traditional preparation.0

I could survive on a desert island if I just had:
my plate of spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and basil and a beautiful glass of Jermann Pinot Bianco. That sounds like a nice vacation!

Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton hosted by Adam Richman on Friday, July 22, and continues on Saturday, July 23, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli, both on the waterfront at Fairview Farm at Mecox in Bridgehampton. The oceanfront food and drink fest ClambakeMTK at Gurney’s Montauk hosted by Marc Murphy and Eden Grinshpan premieres on Saturday, July 30. Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian is Saturday, August 20, at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. For tickets and more info on all Dan’s Taste of Summer events, visit DansTasteofSummer.com! A portion of this year’s ticket proceeds from GrillHampton and Taste of Two Forks will benefit All For The East End (AFTEE), a 501(c)(3) that showcases and provides support to the more than 1,000 charity organizations in the five East End towns. A portion of proceeds from Harvest East End benefits Long Island Farm Bureau and HRHCare.

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