There is something of an alchemist lurking inside Chef Steven Amaral of North Fork Chocolate Company in Aquebogue. “Recently we have begun refining organic cacao and organic cane sugar into chocolate,” he says while describing his current favorite culinary endeavor. “It is as mystifying as it is rewarding. I can’t stop eating it.”
A graduate of Johnson & Wales, Amaral was raised on a poultry-and-produce farm 40 miles south of Boston, crediting his environs and his Sicilian and Azorean heritage with the work ethic and sense of adventure that informs his creations in the kitchen today. “I worked hard, played harder,” he says. “One hand had a shovel in it, the other a knife.”
As he readies to wow guests at a quartet of Dan’s Taste of Summer events—Dan’s Rosé Soirée, Chefs of the Hamptons, Chefs of the North Fork and Taste of Two Forks—Amaral dishes on unforgettable truffles, unusual requests and unsung heroes.
First words that come to mind when you hear ‘Taste of Summer”…
Dining al fresco.
You can invite three people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who are they, and what would that meal be?
Ferran Adrià, Fernand Point and Georges Auguste Escoffier. The menu would be entirely in the hands of these culinary masters!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Who do you most admire in the food-wine world and why?
Anyone who has to raise, catch, weed, hoe, plant, water, feed, nurture, press, pick, ferment or prune, on a daily basis. These are the heroes in the food-wine world.
What are your hobbies, passions and interests outside the world of food, wine and work?
Painting on canvas and wood with paint that I make with powdered pigments and oil or acrylic polymers, and sculpting marble. And chilling with my new granddaughter and family in Laguna Beach.
Tell us a secret…
There is no time but the present.
What’s the oddest request you’ve ever received from a diner?
Is this going to be read by adults only?
What’s the ultimate cocktail?
Bourbon or tequila for sipping.
What talent would you most like to have?
To play the piano.
What’s your comfort food and why?
Chocolate, because it’s always in reach.
What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?
I stepped outside my back door and looked up, and for the first time in a long time the night sky was filled with a gazillion stars! That was awesome!
What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever tasted?
Squash blossoms filled with wild mushroom duxelles and a whole black Périgord truffle in the center at mes amis Roger Vergé’s restaurant Moulin de Mougins near Cannes.
What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?
Always use a wooden spoon to stir the pasta—it’s a Sicilian thing.
If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?
Sculpting marble, Carrara marble, on a mountain top in Sicily.
What is your karaoke song?
Refer to “best advice I’ve ever received” question.
We just handed you a glass of bubbly. Now please make a toast to summer on the East End.
May your first glass of wine never be your last.
Find more information and get tickets to all Dan’s Taste of Summer events at DansTaste.com.