Dishing on Dan’s Taste of Summer Weekend 2019

Hamptons chefs
Team Hamptons receiving their New York Prime Beef Team Awards at Dan’s GrillHampton, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Dan’s Taste of Summer Weekend was the place to be as thousands of guests sipped and savored and sang and danced their way through two unforgettable sell-out nights on the beautiful Fairview Farm at Mecox waterfront in Bridgehampton. Whether you were at the seventh annual Dan’s GrillHampton presented by New York Prime Beef—traveling back to the 1980s with Jessie’s Girl and casting your vote for the best dish of the night served up by one of the 16 competing chefs—or tasting your way through some 40 chefs and purveyors from the Hamptons and North Fork at the ninth annual Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, it was a culinary celebration like no other, filled with countless memorable, mouthwatering moments…

The coolest spot in the Hamptons had to be the delightfully breezy BNB VIP Lounge, where guests raised countless toasts, took endless photos and watched the sun go down over the glittering waters of Mecox Bay.

Chef Scott Kampf of Union Cantina and Southampton Social Club
Scott Kampf, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Burgers, tacos, sushi rolls…Chef Scott Kampf hit the Taste of Summer Weekend trifecta, serving up treats from his three restaurants—Union Burger Bar, Union Cantina and Southampton Social Club—over the two tasty nights. When asked if his he was aiming to fill up guests’ bellies before they could taste the competition, Union Burger Bar owner Ian Duke said Chef Scott Kampf’s UBB Double Burger and fries was an attempt at “making it memorable”—and he definitely accomplished that!

Gurney’s Resorts did their waterfront heritage proud with perfectly summertime-light crudo by Scarpetta Beach and the aromatic Smoked Tilefish courtesy of Showfish at Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina.

North Fork Chocolate Company Chef Steven Amaral struck gold—Aquebogue Gold, that it—with creations that would make Willy Wonka jealous. Salt-rimmed chocolate-margarita shot, anyone?

“Here’s to the past 45 years and the next century of Long Island wine!”—Toast raised to Castello di Borghese, home of Long Island Wine Country’s first vines when the land was planted by Louisa and Alex Hargrave.

Topping Rose House dish
Topping Rose House’s dish, Photo: Barbara Lassen

The best way to eat Topping Rose House’s brilliant combination of cucumber-elderflower jelly, oyster kimchi, flowers and kwek kwek—that’s a fried quail egg to the uninitiated—proved to be a single, scintillating mouthful.

“I think there’s more flavors than ingredients!”—Rave heard over Chef Stephan Bogardus’s crab and summer bean salad with harissa and cashew ”butter.”

“Biodynamic” has been called an ethical, esoteric, ecological approach to farming and food. Claudio’s grilled local biodynamic beets and peaches were called “outrageous,” “awesome” and “fantastic” by a trio of guests who immediately went back for seconds and thirds.

There was plenty of cheering and friendly trash-talk around the cornhole boards, but the weekend’s top in-your-face strike-a-pose moment went to the guest in the appropriate purple shirt doing his best Megan Rapinoe impression after scoring a foosball goal in the California Closets Fun Zone.

Proof that you don’t need glasses to make a toast: two guests clinking shells that held Frisky Oyster Chef Robby Beaver’s sublime Oysters Friskafella—Peconic Gold oysters with garlic chipotle spinach and Parmigiana aioli.

“Duck is what we do!” said Chef Guy Reuge of Mirabelle, and his pillowy rissoles of duck and foie gras with local tomato sauce and fresh herbs proved he does it like nobody else.

What’s better than strawberries and lemonade on summer night? Strawberry Lemonade made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka and served on ice.

Craigs Creamery team photo
The Craigs Creamery team, Photo: Barbara Lassen

The Craigs Creamery cheddar tastings elevated the farm-to-table experience with creamy cheeses courtesy of eight New York farms coming together in a culinary cooperative. Say that three times, fast.

It was a Kentucky-via-the-Hamptons jaunt for everyone who stepped up to the Woodford Reserve barrel-on-wheels and sipped their award-winning bourbon and rye.

Farmers market trips are going to have a Taste of Summer touch thanks to those great reusable totes handed out by our friends at Fresh Direct.

Chef Arthur Wolf doubled everyone’s porcine pleasure with his grilled pulled pork quesadillas at GrillHampton and slow-smoked BBQ pulled pork sliders at Taste of Two Forks. Maybe we should’ve called it Taste of Two Porks…

Host, Lauren Scala
Lauren Scala, Photo: Barbara Lassen

This year’s Taste of Two Forks celebrity host was Lauren Scala of WNBC’s Today in New York. As she greeted the crowd under the big tent, the Emmy-winning reporter, born in Mineola, Long Island, exclaimed enthusiastically, “I’m honored to be here!” Scala is also the host of Taxi TV’s Backseat Bites.

Libations were filled with international flair. Guests cooled off with glasses of Rosé Piscine, the French rosé made specifically to drink on the rocks, while Zacapa combined their Ron Zacapa rum and coconut water inside a delightful carved coconut, a refreshing and unique cocktail.

It’s official. Whether sitting in the T-Mobile VIP lounge and snapping photos with the bay in the background, powering their phones at the T-Mobile charging stations or gazing out over the crowd, guests agree that the official color of summer is…magenta!

The line for Shinnecock Lobster Factory at Taste of Two Forks was consistently long, thanks to their savory lobster fritter with truffle fondue, courtesy of chef Marco Barrila.

Main Road Biscuit Co.’s light, fluffy mini buttermilk biscuits topped with peach vanilla jam and fresh whipped cream proved to be a nice, sweet treat.

The tent was never without solid sounds, thanks to Anthony Scott aka DJ Phresh as part of the Dan’s Taste of Summer Entertainment Series presented by Mohegan Sun, who mixed his tunes at both events.

Kontiki and Chef Cheo Avila’s chicken wing lollipop with Korean Gochujang sauce and KK’s Spicy Green Mix was a crispy, tasty creation.

Eric Presti, guitarist from Jessie’s Girl
Eric Presti, guitarist from Jessie’s Girl, Photo: Hailey Burling

On Friday night, Jessie’s Girl brought the house down with their highly theatrical ode to the ’80s, performing such hits as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Video Killed the Radio Star” and, of course, “Jessie’s Girl” while showing off multiple costume changes and fantastic vocals, and that blast of bubbles!

It was a hot weekend, but guests stayed hydrated with smooth, luxury water from Aqua Panna and S.Pellegrino and delicious, quenching organic iced teas from Sweet Leaf Tea.

There was much fun to be had at the Intelli-Tec Security Services photo booth. Guests wore wacky hats, colorful boas and leis, donned sunglasses and took animated gifs with their friends.

Vermont Wagyu treated guests to, you guessed it, wagyu beef tastings and smile-inducing sliders. The rich, soft cut was melt-in-your-mouth good.

Out East’s photo booth, complete with red bicycle and moving background, was a hit with guests having big laughs while pedalling away.

The Beach Club @ Gurney’s Montauk chef Jorge Espinoza checked the “big” box for size and flavor with his pulled short rib sliders. His combo of bone marrow, pickled red onion and horseradish was symphonic on the tongue.

Among Team NYC’s heavy hitters, Hill Country Barbecue Market grill master Ash Fulk brought a substantial brisket slow-smoked over post oak served on a slice of white bread with cucumber salad. Meanwhile, Shake Shack’s Mark Rosati offered a dry-aged double cheeseburger with Cabot cheddar, brown butter shallot mayo and pickled red onions, with Blueberry Pie Oh-My for dessert.

Another tasting meal, Black Tap Burgers & Beer chef Stephen Parker’s Greg Norman wagyu beef burger with blue cheese, greens and side of Mexican street corn earned quite a buzz on Friday. It didn’t hurt that, as a little extra incentive for voters, no one left without receiving one of their iconic and very cool Black Tap baseball caps.

Wagyu seemed to be the meat of the weekend. Cafe Clover’s Garrison Price made a tender wagyu beef short rib shish kebab for Team NYC. Was it cheating to use those robust seasonal North Fork vegetables? Of course not—we’re always happy to share our bounty here on the East End!

Rob Shawger, Matt Abdoo, Shane McBride and Garett McBride from Pig Beach
Rob Shawger, Matt Abdoo, Shane McBride and Garett McBride from Pig Beach

No stranger to grilling contests, Matt Abdoo of NYC’s Pig Beach made a BBQ wagyu brisket slider on a Martin’s potato roll topped with house-cured pickles, crispy onions and his championship barbecue sauce, and a Mediterranean pasta salad side. Abdoo and his good friend, Team Hamptons chef Matty Boudreau of The Preston House & Hotel, asked for adjacent tables, creating good vibes and camaraderie with the opposition.

Rumba Island Inspired Cuisine & Rum Bar’s Justin Bonner drew raves with Dominican ribs, slow-roasted, St. Louis-style ribs with sweet chili ginger soy glaze and fresh herbs, and a summer grilled watermelon salad for a fruity finish.

Some chefs, like Ronald A. Philipp of the Maidstone Arms, looked to the sea for fare on Friday. But Phillipp’s marinated shrimp was also grilled with cheese grits, Tasso ham and applewood smoked bacon with étouffée sauce.

Patrick Capellini and Michael Flannery of London Essence Co. refreshed and delighted on both nights with elegant and tasty mixers from distilled essences. A must for any mixologist’s toolkit, the infused tonics and sodas featuring grapefruit & rosemary, bitter orange & elderflower, and more screamed sophistication—even if sophisticates don’t scream.

The Family Grubb Hubb in the Sub-Zero Wolf space delivered GrillHampton’s first-ever vegan option with their unbelievable, plant-based pulled “pork” (seitan) sandwich and vegan slaw, as well as beef burgers and BBQ chicken wings.

North Forkers Backyard Brine offered plates with their handmade, artisan pickles in dill and sweet varieties at both of the weekend’s events, as well as spicy pickled jalapeños on Friday, and palate-cleansing pickled beets on Saturday.

Adam Richman and NYC's Jessie's Girl perform at Dan's GrillHampton
Adam Richman and NYC’s Jessie’s Girl performing, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Guests are always overjoyed to see Travel Channel’s Man v. Food legend Adam Richman. This year, Richman served as a celebrity GrillHampton judge, but he also surprised everyone when he joined Jessie’s Girl onstage for the first of the 1980s tribute band’s encore performances. The author and TV personality sang Simple Minds’ beloved “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” best known as the theme from John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, making, as Richman said of his younger self, “an 11-year-old boy’s dreams come true.” If that screaming crowd was any indication, it made of a few of his fans’ dreams come true, too.

PORT Waterfront Bar & Grill chef Bruce Miller kept the ingredients of his yummy tuna poké a bit of a secret on Saturday, but the native Hawaiian raw fish dish was definitely enlivened by sesame seeds and seaweed.

Perhaps also inspired by Polynesian fare, First and South Chef Mynor Ortega’s rich pulled pork slider with peach barbecue sauce and pineapple salsa was a sweet and savory delight.

David Burtka
David Burtka, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Dan’s GrillHampton was hosted by none other than chef, caterer, cookbook author and award-winning actor David Burtka, who was thrilled to be back on the gorgeous Fairview Farm at Mecox. “It’s such a beautiful area,” said the 2018 Taste of Two Forks host. “It’s just stunning!”

Chef Matty Boudreau did it. He got his three-peat (third GrillHampton win) by once again earning the Blue Moon People’s Choice Award, along with his amazing team from The Preston House & Hotel, for his surreal Smoked Wagyu Short Rib Taco paired with Ed’s Lobster Salad, salsa verde and guacamole.

Chef Matty Boudreau and his team
Chef Matty Boudreau and The Preston House Team receiving their award, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Peter Ambrose was selected for the night’s coveted New York Prime Beef Judges’ Choice Award for his Aldo’s Coffee Rubbed Barbecue Short Rib Hash and Guajillo Butter Shrimp Surf and Turf. When Events by Peter Ambrose returned for Taste of Two Forks the next day, his Team Award and Judges’ Choice Award were proudly displayed.

Drumroll, please. The winner of the grand New York Prime Beef Team Award was…Team Hamptons! Better luck next year Team NYC.

Most guests wouldn’t expect to see pizza at a grilling event, but that’s because they hadn’t discovered Justin Bazdarich’s ingenious Speedy Romeo Pizza, made with grilled dough, marinated heirloom tomatoes, fresh ricotta and chili flakes. Lesson learned—pizza is better grilled.

Marco Barrila of Insatiable EATS Catering & Event Specialists presented a bevy of Mediterranean-style grilled meats over sage polenta. The baby back rib, beef short rib and shrimp made for a pleasingly smoky trio, and the flower placed atop earned points for presentation.

Clinton Hall may have had the most fans out of anyone at GrillHampton—that is, if you count guests who both tasted Darryl Harmon’s Double-Smashed Two Beef Patties and the paper fans distributed by the NYC restaurant.

Miami Cocktail kept guests refreshed with organic, 110-calorie spritzes in five fun flavors, including Mandarin Rose Mimosa, Grapefruit & Hibiscus Paloma and Sunrise Rose Sangria.

Grace & Grit’s Jennilee Morris gave guests’ taste buds quite a shock with her spicy Habañero-Buttermilk Brined Chicken Wings. It’s a good thing she paired it with a gentle Chopped Hearts of Palm Salad.

Corona offered up two refreshing options over the weekend: Corona Premier, a classic, light beer; and Corona Refresca, a new line of spiked malt beverages in three tropical flavors. The Guava Lime Refresca is a game changer.

Amy and Sean O'Donnell serving Joe & Liza's Ice Cream
Amy and Sean O’Donnell serving Joe & Liza’s Ice Cream, Photo: Carole Blankman Ginsburg

Joe & Liza’s Ice Cream rolled onto Fairview Farm with a cart full of icy goodness, and with chilling, artisanal flavors like honey lavender ice cream and passion fruit sorbet, they certainly gained many new fans.

The Garden at Water Mill made quite an impression at their first Dan’s Taste of Summer event with a mouthwatering Scallop Crudo on offer. Here’s hoping they become a Taste of Summer staple.

Wolfgang Ban of Anker and Green Hill made a mean tuna with quinoa, cucumber and tomato, which was eagerly devoured by guests, as was T Bar Southampton’s yellowfin tuna tartare.

Vegans raved about Page Restaurant’s Freekeh Grain Bowl, while meat eaters clamored for Brisket Souvlaki from Calissa and Agnolotti al Tartufo from Paola’s East.

Linhart Dentistry turned heads and appropriately sparked many smiles with their orange Land Rover and chic swag bag.

Shock Ice Cream brought out the kid in everyone with mini versions of their Instagram-famous Carnival Cone featuring vanilla ice cream surrounded by cotton candy on a sugar cone.

The Clubhouse chef Brian Schlitt’s tuna tartare in crispy wonton taco with red ginger soy vinaigrette and cucumber, red onion and sesame was a festival of Asian flavors.

The cherry on top of an already perfect weekend was the Hampton Chocolate Factory truck offering massive ice cream sandwiches named after the many Hamptons hamlets. The East Hampton was particularly delicious!

Dan’s Taste of Summer continues on Saturday, August 3, with the ultimate summertime fiesta at Dan’s Corona MonTaco at Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina. And don’t miss the Dan’s 60 Summers Gala on Friday, August 2, also at Gurney’s Star Island. Hurry, get your tickets now at!

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