Jess Morris, Executive Chef/Co-Owner of North Fork Roasting Co. in Southold says she’s “most looking forward to having so many amazing restaurateurs and chefs under one roof” at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, presented by Farrell Building Company, hosted by chef, caterer and award-winning actor David Burtka taking place on Saturday, July 21 at Fairview Farm at Mecox. For her, the phrase “taste of summer” means “what’s in season—local ingredients grown [offer] a glimpse at how lucky we truly are.”
What’s your earliest food memory?
Chopping peppers on my Little Tikes table at four. I was trying to perfectly julienne all the peppers. I then touched my eyes and had a not-so-fun experience. When I was 12 I was babysitting my younger sister for a few hours. My mom said there was stuff for spaghetti in the pantry and that would be dinner. Not on my watch. I found a whole turkey in the freezer, we had bread on the counter. I made her a roasted turkey and homemade stuffing with applesauce.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Southold, which I’m proud to call my home. Everyone has that wanderlust when they first graduate high school and want to get away from this small town. For me I moved to Astoria for two years and pursued acting. Once I realized I was stuck in a waitressing job making great money I realized “what am I doing for myself?” I missed my family, I’m very lucky to have a close-knit family. I moved home—at that time the culinary scene was starting to boom on the North Fork. I think I came home at the exact time I was supposed to.
How does living on the East End inform your cooking and culinary creativity?
I love seeing what our farmers are growing and then deciding on a menu. Michelle Hart planted us a beautiful garden in front of the coffee shop. My favorite part is for people to think they are “just getting food at a coffee shop” then being like, “why is this food so good?” We’re small but care about each ingredient that goes into the dish and who it comes from.
Who has inspired your career the most?
Chef Jennilee Morris taught me how to act in a kitchen, how to butcher meat, how to lead a wedding for 200 people, how to feel secure in managing peers and, most of all, how to put my whole heart into my food.
Which Long Island wines are you drinking these days?
Saltbird Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, McCall Wines Pinot Noir, Croteaux Vineyards Chloe Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Rosé.
What piece of equipment do you treasure?
I love my sous vide.
Do you eat at your own restaurant?
I eat at the shop almost daily—it’s the best way for me to stay on top of change and not let things fall through the cracks. I like to teach not preach. We currently have one of the best employees we’ve had helping in the kitchen and it makes all the difference when someone sees your vision.
What’s the most important thing to teach the next generation of chefs?
Don’t be intimidated by a diploma or a gender, get in that kitchen and start. Start washing dishes and watching how someone runs the kitchen.
What makes a cocktail a “craft cocktail?”
Craft cocktails should be well balanced, not too bitter and not too sweet and made with just as much love as when putting a dish together.
What advice would you give diners on the East End this summer?
Fully immerse yourself in the best season—try to eat local, visit your farms, tip your servers, smell your wine, listen to local music and shuck your own oyster.
Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, presented by Farrell Building Company & hosted by chef, caterer & award-winning actor David Burtka, features tastings from top restaurants, chefs and purveyors from both Forks on Saturday, July 21 at Fairview Farm in Bridgehampton. GA tickets for $195 grant you access to all you can eat and drink 7:30–10 p.m. VIP tickets for $295, include early entrance, with access to the exclusive VIP waterfront lounge featuring special treats and more! Tickets always sell out, so buy NOW at DansTaste.com.