Giuseppe Scalco, Executive Chef of Merakia in New York is looking forward to “meeting other chefs and tasting new flavors” at Dan’s Rosé Soirée presented by Porsche on Sunday, May 27 at the Southampton Arts Center. Be sure to try his food when you’re there. He’s quite partial to Greek oregano and other things deliciously Greek. His definition of succulent is Merakia’s “signature dish kleftiko [marinated lamb], it melts in your mouth,” he says. Can’t you just taste it…and several rosés?
Where are you from?
I’m a Greek-Italian born and raised in Athens. I take my name from my great-grandfather who was the head chef for the Contarini Family, one of the oldest noble families in Venice. When my father gave me his book of recipes, my big travel in the world of taste began.
What’s your earliest food memory?
My aunt, who was living next door, used to make the most tasty chickpea soup and lamb fricassee I’ve ever eaten. My mother’s family comes from Asian Minor, one of the most famous culinary areas in Greece. Growing up around my mom and her three sisters, who were living close by, I was in kitchens full of flavor and aromas that I still keep fresh in my memory.
How does living on the East Coast inform your cooking?
New York is unique in many ways; one of them is that you can find cuisines from all over the world with many different ingredients, recipes and techniques.
Who inspired your path the most?
In my professional career, there are a lot of chefs that give me inspiration, but Marco Pierre White was the chef who made me understand that cooking is something more than a nice plate or a nice flavor. It’s the most beautiful part of your life that you put in all your creativity.
Which Long Island wine are you drinking lately?
Bedell Cellars Musée 2013.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare and why?
Confit lamb bordelaise and fondant potatoes—50-day, dry-aged leg of baby lamb confit and bordelaise sauce with rustic purple potatoes and wild asparagus. It’s a unique combination of Greek and French cuisine that gives you the experience of Greek ingredients with French technique.
Do you ever eat at your own restaurant on your days off?
I do! I believe that the best critic is your own self. I also like to observe how people react to the taste of my cuisine. Asking how people feel about the food in a casual conversation teaches you a lot. For me, it’s my private culinary school.
What’s the most important thing to teach the next generation of chefs?
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. They are your best teacher and will always teach you new things.
What does the term “taste of summer” bring to mind for you?
A small blue metallic table on an island in Greece—enjoying a Greek salad, a couple of olives and some slices of bread, drinking a glass of ouzo and looking at the sunset on the deep blue Aegean sea.
Dan’s Rosé Soirée presented by Porsche is Sunday, May 27 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. Patrons must be 21 or older to attend.