Dan’s MonTaco Countdown: Justin Ottervanger, Street Taco

Justin Ottervanger of Street Taco
Justin Ottervanger of Street Taco, Photo: Yale Goodman

Chef Justin Ottervanger of New York’s new restaurant Street Taco will be partying with the masses at the new food event Dan’s Corona MonTaco presented by Don Julio at Gurney’s Montauk hosted by Adam Richman, Travel Channel host, author, food and travel explorer on July 7. Ottervanger says he’s “really looking forward to a nice summer breeze and great music! I love anything that’s fun rock/metal. You will usually find me listening to the Guns and Roses station on Pandora. This will definitely be a welcome change of scenery as I spend so much time in my kitchens. Seeing that Dan’s has expanded their summer event lineup this year, I’m looking forward to seeing how these new events take off. It’s a great summer series for the community. I’ve been so busy opening up my new restaurant Street Taco, that the only thing in the house right now is beer and Japanese Kewpie mayo!”

Ottervanger shares that “I owe my best beach memory to a very special person, Captain Morgan—one time, after a long evening of partying, I woke up in a truck on the beach that was parked much too close to the water and wound up fully surrounded by water—seemed like I was halfway into the ocean!”

A portion of proceeds from MonTaco benefits The Retreat, which provides safety, shelter and support for victims of domestic abuse and works to break the cycle of family violence.

What local ingredients will you be using in the high summer season?
Between both of my restaurants, Street Taco and White Oak Tavern, I plan on doing some heavy sourcing—I will be using local asparagus and cauliflower, as well as heirloom tomatoes and of course, summer squash and corn!

What crop could local farmers grow that you would be excited to use?
It would excite me if there was a way to grow local avocados on the North Fork! How cool would that be?

Why should consumers seek out local produce and wine?
It’s a vote with your dollar to support the community around you. There’s no doubt about it—when taking advantage of local produce, the flavors are more vibrant and fresh. And simply put, it just feels good to support your local community of like-minded people who share the goal of bringing food to life.

How old were you when you knew that you’d have a career in food or wine?
I’ve been influenced by my mother’s home cooking ever since I can remember. Apart from her, my first inspiration came in the form of pastries. I began taking cake-decorating classes at age 15 and was so excited to have completed a Master’s Summer Class with Wilton Bakers. When I first found out about Johnson & Wales and the programs that they offered, that really helped me realize that cooking as a career was possible.

Would you agree that chefs and farmers are both a little crazy and overworked?
Yes, I agree as we are both dedicated to our crafts and go above and beyond the amount of work hours that are in a typical career. There’s no 9-5 with farming or cheffing. Both are striving for perfection that isn’t necessarily always attainable, but we don’t let that hinder our success.

If I got a tattoo tomorrow it would depict: a montage of tacos with assorted produce.

Tell us about the best thing you’ve ever eaten.
The best thing that I’ve ever eaten was the first time I tried Wagyu beef. The marbling and extremely tender cut completely melted in my mouth as I was eating it. I’d never tried anything quite like it before or since, so it was very memorable.

I could create a fine meal with just these five ingredients: ribeye, asparagus, baby red potato, McCormick Montreal Seasoning (I love basics) and butter.

Find the latest info on all of Dan’s Taste of Summer upcoming events this summer—the new Dan’s Corona MonTaco presented by Don Julio at Gurney’s Montauk hosted by Adam Richman, Travel Channel host, author, food & travel explorer on July 7; Dan’s ClambakeMTK at Gurney’s Montauk, back for its second summer on July 8; Dan’s GrillHampton presented by Pat LaFrieda (July 21), celebrating its 5th anniversary; and Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Co. (July 22), now in its 7th year—at DansTaste.com. Follow Dan’s Taste of Summer on Facebook, on Twitter @DansTOS17 and Instagram @DansTasteofSummer. Event Hashtags: #DansTOS, #RoseSoiree, #MonTaco, #ClambakeMTK, #GrillHampton and #TasteofTwoForks.

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