East End Chefs Roundtable: Who Do You Admire in the Culinary World?

Brian Wilson, Amanda Wallace, Matty Boudreau, Photos: Oliver Peterson, Courtesy Agency 21, Barbara Lassen

From parents and teachers to doctors and political leaders—we all have people we look up to who fill us with inspiration and, sometimes, aspirations of following in their enormous footsteps. With such culinary greats as Bobby Flay and Ina Garten hailing from the East End, our Hamptons and North Fork chefs have a long list of national stars and hyperlocal heroes worth admiring, so we asked them:

Who do you most admire in the culinary world and why?

Enrique Olvera—he brought Mexican food to the forefront and elevated it. —Hernan Martinez, General Manager of The Garden at Water Mill

Eric Ripert—he just seems to get it. If chasing fame gets in the way of continuing to be great at what made you famous, you need to step back, refocus and grow organically. —Peter Ambrose, Chef, Caterer and Owner of Events by Peter Ambrose

Jacques Pépin. I was in a hospital bed being told I would never walk again from a major car accident. The doctors were telling me to figure out what I we going to do with my life. A friend gave me his book The Apprentice. Chef Pépin was in a similar situation when he was driving in the Catskills. You hear that my idol was in the same pain I was in and to make it through inspired me to not let it happen. Some days I work 18+ hours a day! Thank you, chef. —Matty Boudreau, Executive Chef of Green Hill Kitchen & Que in Greenport

Every chef that’s willing to share their knowledge and experience with me, and that admires the purity of the craft. —Ronald Philipp, Executive Chef of The Maidstone in East Hampton

Well, Bobby Flay is a very inspirational chef. —Cleon Clarke, Chef de Cuisine of Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor

Patrick Clark, He was my mentor coming out of culinary school. He pushed me to work hard, not to worry about making a mistake, but to never make it again. Every day I push myself, knowing that’s coming from him. —Joseph Labita, Executive Chef of Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beers in New York City

Chef Walter Manzke. He really showed me how to stay in tune with the produce and respect the ingredients. —Fabián Gallardo, Chef and Owner of Petite Taqueria in Larchmont (PTL)

Anyone that is humble in what they do and has a good time doing it. I think Chef Matty Matheson is a great example of this. —Steve Zoerner, Chef and Owner of Swell Taco in Patchogue

I admire that you can never stop learning. There is always someone who could teach you something. Either a new chef or an experienced one. Times change and so does the food. A chef must constantly evolve or become stale and dated. —David Piacente, Executive Chef of Gosman’s Restaurant ion Montauk

How it’s constantly changing year after year. —Arthur Wolf, Owner and Executive Chef of Smokin’ Wolf BBQ & More in East Hampton

My first job in food was at the pastry/coffee counter at Barefoot Contessa in East Hampton. Those were the days. Ina Garten, to this day, is my idol. Clean, simple food prepared as it’s supposed to be. Not a professional chef, but a studied one. So much heart in her food, and I so admire that. —Marissa Drago, Owner of Main Road Biscuit Co. in Jamesport

Jacques Pépin. Consummate gentleman/professional. Such a huge bank of knowledge. —James Tchinnis, Executive Chef and Owner of Swallow East Restaurant in Montauk

My first Chef and Owner boss, Joe Hippely at the Warehouse Bistro in Opelika, Alabama. He cooked and plated beautiful food, directed the staff, did all the ordering and maintained all vendor relationships, did all the maintenance and repairs, and kept up with every other aspect of the restaurant. And he was always there to help you with anything you needed. He instilled in me a passion for work that helped me become who I am today. —Brian Wilson, Executive Chef of North Fork Table & Inn in Southold

The way we all rely on each other. The chefs need the farmers, and the farmers need the chefs, and it’s beautiful love and respect that creates magic. —Jennilee Morris, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Grace & Grit and North Fork Roasting Co. in Southold

Constant education—I love learning. The world of food is endless. —Stephan Bogardus, Executive Chef of The Halyard at Sound View Greenport

My dad. I’ve never met anyone else that works as hard or as passionately as he does. —Lauren Lombardi, Owner of Lombardi’s Love Lane Market in Mattituck

Right now, Jose Andres. He does it all. Incredible chef. Successful restaurants. And a heart of gold. Talk about a philanthropic spirit. Tom Colicchio is a close second. Two chefs using their platforms to change the world. —Taylor Knapp, Chef and Owner of Peconic Escargot and PAWPAW on the North Fork

The constant innovation of making the food and wine world different every day. —Courtney Sypher, Executive Chef of Sen Restaurant in Sag Harbor

Houston’s. Consistency and always solid meal and service. —Derek Axelrod, Partner of T Bar Southampton

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. —Matthew Birnstill, Executive Chef of The Quogue Club

There is an insurgence of strong female leaders in the food/wine world right now. I would really have to say to all of the women who have come before me and refused to be seen as less than are such a great inspiration. I wouldn’t even try to narrow that down to just one. Cheers, ladies! —Amanda Wallace, Pastry Chef of Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton

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. —Steven Amaral, Chocolatier and Executive Chef of North Fork Chocolate Company in Aquebogue

I absolutely love and admire Ina Garten. I think her recipes are so wonderful and everything comes out perfectly. —Lina Grammont, Chef at Caribbean Pearl Caterers

I have to say Daniel Boulud. He’s the king! —Adam Lathan, Co-Founder and Executive Chef of The Gumbo Bros in New York City

For this, I go back to the days when I started cooking. I used to watch Alton Brown on the Food Network and always appreciated his scientific methods on cooking. If you can understand where or when you made your mistake and then grow from that experience, cooking becomes a series of timing and steps. It becomes much easier at that point. —Dominic Rice, Executive Chef of Calissa in Water Mill

Jacques Pépin, because if you don’t, you’re wrong. —Adam Kaufer, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Grace & Grit

Amanda Cohen at Dirt Candy. She is putting vegetables front and center and doing it in a way that’s less “hippie” and more modern. In my opinion, her vegetable-forward cuisine resonates with New Yorkers more than anyone else’s. —Peter Van Der Mije, Chef and Owner of Osteria Leana in Oyster Bay

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. —Nikki Cascone-Grossman, Owner of Cheese Shoppe in Southampton

Tuffy Stone, Chris Lilly and Shane McBride! They are all super chefs. —Matthew Abdoo, Executive Chef of Pig Beach in New York City

That was my mother. She was the cook for my town weddings and that was the only world that I knew. I learned a lot from her and admire her the most. —Spiro Karachopan, Owner and Executive Chef of Spiro’s Restaurant & Lounge in Rocky Point

Chef Roody Harris who mentored me. He was such a patient chef and an amazing teacher. —Jesus Ramirez, Executive Sous Chef of Hamptons Farms in East Quogue

All the artisans, farmers, fishermen and purveyors who provide me with extraordinary products. —Terrance Brennan, Chef and Owner of Brennan Group Hospitality in New York City

Tim Cushman from O Ya restaurants in NYC and Boston. He took the concept of sushi, which has always been the provenance of Japanese chefs, combined the techniques with an American sensibility and just killed it. If you’ve never been, you should go—now! —Tom Schaudel, Chef and Owner of A Lure and aMano on the North Fork

Alton Brown—I love how he knows all the details to every little ingredient, as well as the processes to cook them. —Bruce Miller, Executive Chef of PORT Waterfront Bar & Grill in Greenport

I think Sean Brock is cooking some amazing food and creating a great kitchen culture. —Ash Fulk, Director of Culinary Operations at Hill Country Barbecue Market in New York City

Jose Andres—he is an innovator in terms of food and hospitality out of all the cooks and chefs out there working hard to have his culinary voice be heard. —Jose “Cheo” Avila, Head Chef at Kon-Tiki at the Gallery Hotel in Greenport

I admire the men and women that work with me, not for me. Their hard work and dedication are truly inspiring. Cooks make the world go round not chefs. —Jeremy Blutstein, Executive Chef of Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina in Montauk

Jacques Pépin. He is just an incredible cook. I always learn from his videos. —Justin Bazdarich, Chef and Owner of Speedy Romeo in New York City

Read More East End Chefs Roundtables Here.

More from Our Sister Sites