You can meet Marissa Drago, owner of the popular Main Road Biscuit Co. in Jamesport, at Dan’s Chefs of the North Fork hosted by The Halyard at Sound View Greenport on Saturday, July 7, which honors North Fork Table & Inn co-founder Chef Claudia Fleming.
Drago will also be on hand at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company, which takes place on Saturday, July 21 at Fairview Farm at Mecox.
Regarding the NoFo chef event, Drago says, “we’re so excited to be a part of this incredible new event! It’ll be wonderful to be among colleagues and honor Claudia—she and her husband did so much for this area. North Fork Table & Inn was really a draw for us to purchase a home out here.”
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in an ethnically rich family in Huntington. My grandmother often made Greek food like spanakopita. My father was also an avid cook, always trying his hand at ethnic cuisines like Chinese and Italian. Most meals were cooked at home and with love. We only ate out on special occasions.
My earliest food memories include going out into the yard and picking eggplants, green peppers and lettuces to be used for dinner that night. We also made regular weekend trips to Long Island farms to pick up corn and potatoes.
What’s special about being part of the North Fork culinary community?
The North Fork is a special place for its proximity to the water and also to farmland. We’re blessed to be able to have the fish in the sea and fruits and vegetables at our fingertips. But what’s most special out here is the way all of us in the food world connect to the land and, because of that, to each other. There’s so much talent, it’s a very special place.
How would you describe the evolution of the North Fork dining scene?
With all that’s available out here, it’s natural that anyone who wants to be in the food business would gravitate to this area. In the past 10 years we’ve seen so much talent expressed we can only hope that it continues. It’s good for everyone.
Who has inspired your career the most?
Ina Garten was my idol. I read her first cookbook cover-to-cover several times as if it were a novel. It’s still at the forefront of my collection of cookbooks to this day. She’s the reason why I moved into the food industry from software and the reason why I spent more time on the East End than I ever had while growing up. Well over a decade later, here I am in Jamesport with Main Road Biscuit Co.
How does living on the East End inform your cooking and culinary creativity?
My biggest influence was Ina Garten and I continue to follow her model of using what’s available at the time you would want to cook it. It’s really as simple as that.
What’s the most important thing to teach the next generation of chefs?
It’s not about money. It’s never going to be about money. If you don’t have a thick skin and you can’t handle living with less, this is not the business for you. You have to be 100% behind creating memories for your guests and creating something within your community that you can be proud of, that enriches the area.
Which Long Island wines are you drinking these days?
I’m loving the Macari Rosé, Wölffer Estate Vineyard’s Finca, and Mattebella Vineyards is doing a fantastic job with their blends.
What does the term “taste of summer” bring to mind for you?
Backyard barbecues of corn, burgers, hotdogs, barbecue chicken, watermelon salad and cold drinks on ice. That’s the way we do it on Long Island—when we’re not being fancy-pants!
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, while they last, and are on sale at DansTasteofSummer.com. Patrons must be 21 or older to attend.