Erick Jones, executive chef of Cowfish in Hampton Bays, is coming east to represent Rooted Hospitality Group on July 20, competing on Team Hamptons in a heated battle with Team NYC at Dan’s GrillHampton presented by New York Prime Beef at Fairview Farm at Mecox. Perhaps he’s been preparing for this his whole life.
This Medina, Pennsylvania native says his earliest food memory is “weekend grilling with my father—specifically lighting the fire, and him allowing me to do it.” Do you think there’s a chance that he’ll throw a pizza on a grill? Whatever the outcome at GrillHampton, Jones offers this advice for dining out on the East End this season: “Do more of it…being at the top of the food chain allows you to try everything at least once.”
How does living on the East End inform your cooking and culinary creativity?
The North Fork farms and wineries are inspiring—I recently moved to the East End—and it’s opened up to me a vast variety of local products to pull from when cooking or creating something new.
Who inspired your career the most?
My stepfather. When I was in 11th grade, he asked me what I wanted to do with my life. And while I didn’t have a specific answer to his question, I knew that whatever it was, I wanted to be happy doing it. Cooking, in my spare time, made me happy. So, from that day forward, I threw myself into cooking—and by my senior year I was teaching my peers.
Which Long Island wines are you drinking these days?
Macari Vineyards’ Bergen Road—I love a bold red.
What’s the most unusual substitution you’ve ever been asked to make?
I was working at a steakhouse in a casino. There was also a pizzeria in the casino. But every week a guest would visit us at the steakhouse requesting a pizza. She didn’t want a pizza from the pizzeria, and it wasn’t on our steakhouse menu. But every week when she’d visit, we’d start making the dough from scratch to deliver her that pizza.
What’s it like to eat at your own restaurant?
While it’s hard to visit one of our restaurants on a day off and just eat—because you never lose track of trying to manage where you can sit back and just enjoy—it’s always great to greet and talk to all of the regulars.
What’s the most dangerous dining experience you’ve ever witnessed?
I watched someone who was trying to flambé tableside pour way too much peach schnapps onto the fire. He promptly set his hat on fire.
What’s the most important thing to teach the next generation of chefs?
Your word is the only thing that you have—stay true and don’t sell out.
What makes a cocktail a “craft cocktail?”
Incorporating the not-commonly-used ingredients into the recipe—in different combinations—resulting in something delicious and unique.
What’s your favorite beverage to take on an East End picnic?
What are you most looking forward to at Dan’s GrillHampton?
Even though this will be my first time and I’m so happy to be a part of it, I’ve heard great stories from my team about participating in prior years. We’re so excited to come back as a team and experience it again this year.
Dan’s GrillHampton presented by New York Prime Beef is Friday, July 20 at Fairview Farm at Mecox. GA tickets are $99 for admission 8 p.m.–10:30 p.m. to see East End chefs pitted against NYC chefs in a one-of-a-kind cooking competition and tasting event. Enjoy an epic live performance by Long Island’s most popular band: Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot—Celebrating The Music of Billy Joel! VIP tickets are $175 and include early access beginning at 7 p.m.; admission to the Waterfront VIP Lounge with special treats and more! Tickets, and info on all Dan’s Taste of Summer events at DansTaste.com.