North Fork Table & Inn (NFTI) owner Claudia Fleming, the doyenne of North Fork dining, will be honored at the Dan’s Chefs of the North Fork on Saturday, July 7 hosted by The Halyard at Sound View in Greenport. A dozen top chefs will gather to celebrate Fleming’s contributions to North Fork cuisine by creating a once-in-a-lifetime repast for epicureans. Of course, the wine—and the desserts—will flow.
NFTI proprietor, cookbook author, and winner of the James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2000, Fleming is one of the best-known and most respected pastry chefs in America. She studied the art of the pâtissier in France, and has worked at many of New York’s legendary restaurants, including Union Square Café, Montrachet, Tribeca Grill and Gramercy Tavern, which she helped open in 1994.
In 2006, Fleming and her late husband Gerry Hayden opened the North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, at the heart of Long Island’s wine country. The restaurant’s seasonal menu features locally grown produce, as well as locally produced wine and cheeses. NFTI quickly gained a reputation as Long Island’s best restaurant.
As she says, “One of the primary reasons my husband and I moved to the East End was to have a closer relationship with local farmers. That’s undoubtedly the best thing about working on the East End!”
In 2010 Fleming opened the popular North Fork Lunch Truck behind NFTI, answering the East End’s answer to the need for delicious “quick eats.”
But female chefs remain the exception, rather than the norm. Fleming says, “I don’t think the East End is any different than anywhere else. If you have passion and focus you will succeed. I’ve always been greatly inspired by women chefs—Nancy Silverton, Lidia Bastianich, Anita Lo, Gabrielle Hamilton, the list is too long—but, for whatever reason, I’ve worked for male chefs. Tom Colicchio, Jonathan Waxman, Michael Romano and, of course, Gerry, saw great value in having women at the helm of their kitchens. From the very beginning of my restaurant career at Jams, women were in charge. It seemed pretty natural to me!”
Fleming points out that cheffing in general is “very challenging and incredibly rewarding, never a dull moment!” Fleming’s status has earned her judging stints on both Chopped and Top Chef: Just Desserts and a guest appearance on Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa.
She continues, “I would like to think that all the women who have worked for me have felt encouraged and supported…that they have an advocate in me! I think whatever women wish to achieve, they can! What’s next for me—along with my partners, Mike and Mary Mraz and chef Stephan Bogardus—is to continue creating memories and great experiences for our guests at the North Fork Table & Inn. Collectively, we hope to bring more recognition to Long Island and all it has to offer!”
In addition to Bogardus and the Halyard’s Galen Zamarra, chefs and producers who will be contributing to the July 7 event include Jennilee Morris of Grace & Grit; Marissa Drago of Main Road Biscuits; Rachel Cronemeyer of Nick & Toni’s; Phil Mastriglio of Oyster Pond Shellfish; Taylor Knapp of Peconic Escargot; Noah Schwartz of Noah’s and Suffolk Theater; Tom Schaudel of A Mano, Jewel, A Lure and Kingfish; Matty Boudreau of the Preston House & Hotel; and Steve Amaral of North Fork Chocolate Company.
Yes, Fleming will be contributing some of her famous desserts to the affair. This event will sell out in advance.
Dan’s Chefs of the North Fork hosted by The Halyard at Sound View Greenport is Saturday, July 7 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $150 and are on sale now at DansTaste.com. Patrons must be 21 or older to attend.