Dining Features

Dan’s Taste of Summer Countdown: Cheese Shoppe’s Nikki Cascone-Grossman

She shares highlights from her journey from Wall Street to "Top Chef" to Southampton business owner.

Brooklyn-born Nikki Cascone-Grossman is a chef and certified sommelier and competed on Bravo’s Top Chef before settling down on the East End to take over the Village Cheese Shoppe in Southampton. Cascone-Grossman will participate in this year’s Rosé Soirée and Dan’s Taste of Two Forks.

First word (or words) that comes to mind when you hear “Taste of Summer:”
Rosé, seafood, summer fruits, corn!

You can invite three people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who are they?
Martha Stewart, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga.

What’s your favorite dish to prepare, and do you enjoy eating it as much as preparing it?
Grilling lobsters in the shell, with summer salads.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Worry is worthless.

Share your funniest/most unforgettable/oddest kitchen incident.
Dodging a flying sauté pain from an angry chef—not meant for me.

Who do you most admire in the food/wine world and why?
Anne Quatrano is the greatest manager of time, with amazing taste and creative genius, a great chef. Dominique Crenn, a Michelin Star chef. Danny Meyer, an incredibly impressive restaurant group with amazing philosophy. Marco Pierre White—badass.

What is going to be the “next big thing” on the East End food scene?
Simple, fresh quick service. Gourmet grab-and-go. A noodle shop or two.

What are your hobbies/passions/interests outside the world of food, wine and work?
Music! All aspects of music. Also my children, 4 and 8 years old. Travel.

Tell us a secret…
I worked on Wall Street for four years before changing over to hospitality.

What’s the ultimate cocktail?
A great margarita with salt.

What talent would you most like to have?
Playing multiple instruments.

What’s your comfort food and why?
Matzo ball soup, chicken pot pie, a pot of great tomato sauce.

What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?
Korea Town in New York City, Mexico.

What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever tasted?
Very difficult to pinpoint. I once paddled out to a tiny island in Jamaica and had a spiny lobster pulled from the water and grilled on open fire doused with butter. River fish from the Amazon River, at a great restaurant in Brazil.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children and the closeness I share with my family!

What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?
I don’t think it’s that unique, but I enjoy music playing all through service. Helps morale.

If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?
Singer-songwriter.

What has surprised you the most about working in the East End culinary scene?
How much I enjoy the relationships with regulars and locals.

What is your go-to karaoke song?
“On the Radio” by Donna Summer.

It’s your last weekend on earth—what’s the menu?
Lobster, leafy greens and fresh, ripe fruit.

We just handed you a glass of bubbly. Now please make a toast to summer on the East End:
Here’s to many magical summer days and nights filled with delicious food, exceptional drink and inspiring company. Make incredible memories!

For more information on the Village Cheese Shoppe, visit villagecheeseshoppe.com. For tickets and more information on all Dan’s Taste of Summer events, visit DansTasteOfSummer.com.

Read more Dan’s Taste of Summer 2019 chef interviews.

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