Dan’s Corona MonTaco Countdown: Gray Gardell-Gross, 668 The Gig Shack

Gray Gardell-Gross
Photo: Courtesy 668 The Gig Shack

Meet Montauk homeboy, chef Gray Gardell-Gross from his family’s popular restaurant 668 The Gig Shack at 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. You might ask Gardell-Gross about cooking with his nose…

Gardell-Gross fell into his profession, as he says, “I was only 19 years old when we had six chefs quit in a row due to the high-season stress. Kinda just found myself forced into the situation. That being said, I loved it and have never looked back. I was surrounded by passionate friends and family at work and we all just sort of clicked. Vacations started to be all about food and eating buttered noodles for dinner seemed to happen less and less frequently.”

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.

Why should consumers seek out local produce and wine?
I cook with my nose. You can smell the flavor in good local produce, the bagged stuff from the big distributers honestly all smells the same.

Tell us about the most surprising thing you’ve ever eaten.
Mustard cream in a butternut squash soup. Found it at a tiny side street restaurant in Aux de Provence, France. I brought a version of the dish to my restaurant immediately.

Would you agree that chefs and farmers have a lot in common in that both are a little crazy and overworked?
As the chef I need them to be [overworked]. You’ll never get the consistent product you want if you have to teach and watch over 20 cooks. A beautiful kitchen in my mind is small, tightknit and hardworking.

What crop could local farmers grow that you would be excited to use?
Truffles—but actually, even more so—I’m an absolute sucker for high quality chanterelle mushrooms. I think I’m getting some in next week!

What do you have in your pantry that would make another food pro jealous?
Chanterelle Mushrooms next week, right?!

What local ingredients will you be using in the high summer season?
It all starts with the seafood. The sea scallops we’ve been getting have been gorgeous. We fly through them with our Scallop Salad.

I could create a fine meal with just these five ingredients: butter, eggs, flour, bacon and cheese. Homemade Spaghetti Carbonara is my heaven.

What are you most looking forward to about being a part of Dan’s Taste of Summer?
The stress on my brother’s face [that night] when I hand him all the prep and tell him to have a good time!

What’s one of your favorite beach memories?
Slow dancing outside a bar/restaurant with a stranger on a beach in Thailand. She introduced me to the musician Gregory Porter and we danced as the sun came up.

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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