For The Quogue Club’s Executive Chef Matthew Birnstill, fresh and local are paramount, and things don’t have to be too complicated. Birnstill will be at Dan’s Chefs of the Hamptons on Saturday, June 29.
First word (or words) that comes to mind when you hear “Taste of Summer.”
Saturday night, not spent at my restaurant.
You can invite three people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who are they, and what would that meal be?
It would have to be four people, both pairs of my grandparents and it doesn’t matter what we ate.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare, and do you enjoy eating it as much as preparing it?
Fresh fish…simple…weakfish, porgy, blowfish, fluke, sea robin or anything else just caught. Yes, it is just as enjoyable to eat, no matter how it’s prepared, as it is to cook.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Work hard if you want something, there are no shortcuts.”—Pops
Share your funniest/most unforgettable/oddest kitchen incident.
Way too inappropriate to share!
Who do you most admire in the food/wine world and why?
The cooks whom I have worked with on the line. The chefs I have worked under for teaching me. The team I have now, for their hard work and dedication.
What are your hobbies/passions/interests outside the world of food, wine and work?
Spending time with the family, the beach, fishing and kayaking.
Tell us a secret…
What’s the oddest request you’ve ever received from a diner?
Way back, I had a single customer order a dry aged bone-in ribeye. They doused it with salt, pepper and olive oil and ate it raw. It was about two pounds and they cleaned the bone.
What’s the ultimate cocktail?
What’s your comfort food?
Ice cream with peanut butter.
What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?
Just got back from Philly…it’s a great food city.
What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?
Not so much a ritual, but I still watch the clock when I am butchering or prepping to make sure I’m not slowing down yet.
If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?
I’ve never done anything else—can’t say.
What has surprised you most about working in the East End culinary scene?
I’ve met some fantastic people along the way who are passionate about food and wine. These people who raise livestock, fish, farm, produce wine, brew beer, etc. There is so much genuine pride in the products they make or produce for us to use that elevates what we do.
It’s your last weekend on Earth—what’s the menu?
I’m good with pizza.