Southampton chef Dominic Rice is pumped for another season in the Hamptons, as he says, “Calissa is entering our second year and we’re excited to see all our customers. We have a lot of events planned for this summer including our agora [Greek for “gathering place”] pop-ups featuring global designers including Worth & Worth and Turnbull & Asser; winemaker dinners on Thursdays (expect winemakers from Bordeaux to Santorini); live music on summer Fridays (Gipsy Kings, Ludmilla Brazil), and DJs Saturday evenings. We open May 4.”
You can meet Rice at Dan’s Rosé Soirée Presented by Porsche, the official kick-off to summer on Sunday, May 27, and taste some of his Greek fare.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Michigan, where we had a lot of fields, creeks and lakes to choose from. We would pick wild berries from bushes in the summer and fish in the summer and winter, enjoying the bounty of food that the land around us provided. To this day, I enjoy the changing seasons and the excitement of tasting fruits and vegetables at the peak of the season and feel fortunate that Long Island is blessed with so many natural resources.
How does living on the East End inform your cooking?
The bounty of produce, meats and seafood. The freshness is second to none and the people are so passionate about what they do, it’s inspiring.
What person has inspired your career the most?
I did my culinary externship at Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco and to see a total symphony of service and food was an enlightening experience. That always gave me a vision of what excellence can be. We should always strive to give our guest the amazing experience that they deserve.
What’s the most important thing to teach the next generation of chefs?
To take their time in becoming a chef. You should work at multiple restaurants and see how different chefs operate. Once you have the tools to lead, mentor and execute at a high level, it’s our responsibility to teach the next generation and pass along the experience that we have accumulated.
Which Long Island wines are you drinking these days?
Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton has some interesting blends. I enjoy the Lagrein 2010.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare?
I like to use the plancha to cook, whether it be a Montauk Striped bass with crispy skin or Dutch runner beans that are charred and garnished with some local ramps. The flavors you can get are clean and delicious.
I went camping with some friends and we cooked over an open fire. To say the least, it takes some practice to be able to control a “wild fire.” It made me appreciate the ability in my kitchen to turn a burner on and off, but also respect someone like Francis Mallmann who uses it exclusively.
Do you ever eat at your own restaurant on your days off?
While working, I’m always on the lookout for mistakes that servers, cooks and managers are making so that we can provide our guest with the best experience. When I eat at one of my restaurants I always like to relax and enjoy the experience and it gives me great perspective into the diners’ thought process. I always come away impressed at the hard work that it takes to execute on a high level.
What piece of equipment, or ingredient, do you covet?
The plancha—it’s so versatile and easy to use.
What’s an ingredient or method that you refuse to use?
I avoid truffle oil when possible, as it’s basically perfumed oil. It reminds me of hazelnut coffee, smells good, but just tastes like plain coffee.
What makes a cocktail a “craft cocktail?”
Taking the time to make your own ingredients, such as bitters, shrubs and/or juices from scratch.
What’s your favorite thing about Dan’s Taste of Summer events?
I enjoy the energy and buzz at the events. They’re always managed well and the staff is exceptional.
What does the phrase “taste of summer” bring to mind for you?
That would be synonymous with freshness, items at the peak of summer enjoyed simply.
Dan’s Rosé Soirée Presented by Porsche is Sunday, May 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center. GA tickets are $140. VIP tickets are $190 and include event entry from 5 to 8 p.m. PLUS access to the Rosé After Dark VIP After Party Presented by The Palm by Whispering Angel, from 8 to 10 p.m. For tickets and more information about all Dan’s Taste of Summer events, visit DansTaste.com. Hurry, Dan’s Rosé Soirée is sure to be a sellout again this year. Patrons must be 21 or older to attend.
Dan’s Rosé Soirée is proud to be sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor—Porsche. Platinum Sponsor—Bai. Gold Sponsors—Anna de Codorniu, Blue Moon, Corona, Crispin Rosé, U.S. Open. Silver Sponsors—Peconic Bay Medical Center, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Twin Forks Pest Control, Palm Bay International. Bronze Sponsors—Rosé Piscine, Prêt-a-Fleur Eternal Roses.