Food Lab Conference Explores Science of Taste September 13–14

Adam Gopnik, Lidia Bastianic
Adam Gopnik, Lidia Bastianich, Photo: Courtesy Stony Brook Southampton

Just in time for harvest season, Stony Brook Southampton’s fifth annual Food Lab Conference returns on Friday and Saturday, September 13–14 with a new theme for 2019, “Cook, Eat, Drink: Taste the Terroir.” Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich headlines this year’s schedule of panels, discussions and tastings, presenting a keynote conversation with The New Yorker staff writer, essayist and author of The Table Comes First, Adam Gopnik.

Along with Bastianich and Gopnik, this year’s conference features a list of vaunted speakers and incredible local food and drink tastings aimed at providing attendees with an immersive experience to better understand and appreciate the East End’s culinary diversity, innovation, entrepreneurship and globally recognized excellence.

An Emmy- and James Beard Award–winning TV chef, author and Long Island resident, Bastianich, aka the “Godmother of the Italian table,” will talk with Gopnik about “The Power of Local: Taste the Terroir” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 14, at Stony Brook’s Southampton’s Duke Auditorium.

Continuing this theme on Saturday, participants will enjoy an opportunity to taste and learn about local wines, beers and spirits from Montauk Brewing, Sagaponack’s Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Bridgehampton’s Channing Daughters on the South Fork, to Matchbook Distilling Company in Greenport, Aquebogue’s Paumanok Vineyards and Riverhead’s RG|NY on the North Fork.

An Interactive Tasting and Taste Memory event will illuminate “how we taste,” led by chefs, food and wine writers, sommeliers and mixologists, along with experts in biology, anthropology and practitioners of mindful eating. The program is designed to help participants develop a deeper appreciation of how we interact with what we eat and drink.

Other highlights at this year’s Food Lab include a Friday afternoon cooking class with Oli.Vine chef and Chopped winner Nicholas Poulmentis, based on his upbringing on, and taste memory of, Kythira, the “perfect Greek island”; the Friday evening “Farmer to Table” cocktails and buffet opening reception featuring a conversation with Early Girl Farm’s Patty Gentry and Saveur magazine founding editor Dorothy Kalins; and the Farmers Market Luncheon on Saturday afternoon with a Cooking Theater demonstrating “healthy, tasty and easy recipes” inspired by the freshest seasonal ingredients found locally.

Additional speakers and panelists include: North Fork restaurateurs and chefs Tom Schaudel and Claudia Fleming; pastry chef and baker Carissa Waechter; Dock-to-Dish’s Sean Barrett; four-time James Beard Award winner Rozanne Gold; cookbook author, chef and former Martha Stewart Living editor Susan Spungen; Wölffer Estate partner and winemaker Roman Roth; Open Minded Organics farmer and CBD pioneer David Falkowski; Amber Waves Farm founders Katie Baldwin and Amanda Merrow; Stony Brook University neurobiologist and taste expert Alfredo Fontanini; Satur Farms founder and chef Eberhard Müller; East End Food Institute executive director Kate Fullam; and Louisa Hargrave, founder of Long Island’s first commercial winery; among others.

Join them in sessions such as Our Coastal Cuisine—Fishing, Farming and Cooking from the Sea; From Farm to Pharma: Hemp Farming, Superfoods and CBD; What’s Happening in Baking?—From Simple to Spectacular!; and more.

Visit for tickets and the complete list of participants, events, speakers and activities. Tickets are $150, plus additional charges for certain experiences. Students and farmers are eligible for special rates.

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