East End Chefs Roundtable: Best Advice You’ve Received?

David Piacente, Nikki Cascone-Grossman, Stephan Bogardus, Photos: Barbara Lassen (L&R), ©PATRICKMCMULLAN (middle)
David Piacente, Nikki Cascone-Grossman, Stephan Bogardus, Photos: Barbara Lassen (L&R), ©PATRICKMCMULLAN (middle)

In this time of uncertainty, people are asking more questions than ever, searching for the answers they need to safely wade through the haze. One group that seems to have a clear plan for the days ahead is the East End culinary community, with many restaurants making the successful switch to a takeout/delivery-only format with little to no downtime. We now look to our Hamptons and North Fork chefs to share what piece of advice—whether food related or general—helps them to forge ahead with confidence, even in times of stress. If you take the nugget of wisdom from even the most cooking-specific proverbs, perhaps they can offer the everyman a dollop of perspective or guidance. At the very least, they’ll instill a new appreciation for our fiercely passionate local chefs.

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

What we do isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. It takes training and a team mentality to execute day in and day out. If you take the time to mentor, train and empower your staff, your life will be exponentially easier. —Dominic Rice, Executive Chef of Calissa in Water Mill

Treat others like you would like to be treated. —Hernan Martinez, General Manager of The Garden at Water Mill

“Celebrate the good, fix the bad, learn, and move on.” It was from Chef Bradford Thompson. Great words to live by. —Adam Lathan, Co-Founder and Executive Chef of The Gumbo Bros in New York City

Even if you think a dish you have made is perfect, it can always be better. —Guy Reuge, Executive Chef of Mirabelle Restaurant at the Three Village Inn in Stony Brook

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

Freezing super-fresh chowder clams before you open them has come in handy, for sure. —Peter Ambrose, Chef, Caterer and Owner of Events by Peter Ambrose

If you make a mistake, own up to it and never forget it. But also, when someone else that works for you makes that same mistake, remember you did it first. —Joseph Labita, Executive Chef of Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beers in New York City

“Smile and make it look easy,” said Chef John Reilly of the Banquet and Catering class at CIA [Culinary Institute of America]. I love what I do and even when a moment might be challenging, I find it very important to complete it with style and grace, smiling. —Stephan Bogardus, Executive Chef of The Halyard at Sound View Greenport

Take your time and use only the freshest ingredients. —Marco Barrila, Executive Chef and Owner of Insatiable Eats Catering and Events

Don’t think you know everything. You’ll learn something new all the time. —Scott Kampf, Executive Chef of Southampton Social Club and Union Burger Bar in Southampton

To remain humble and calm during really intense moments in the kitchen. The outcome is always far better. —Bruce Miller, Executive Chef of PORT Waterfront Bar & Grill in Greenport

There is no free lunch; if you want it, get up and do it. —Ronald Philipp, Executive Chef of The Maidstone in East Hampton

Work hard and be consistent. —Cleon Clarke, Chef de Cuisine of Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor

Work harder. Challenge yourself every day. —Fabián Gallardo, Chef and Owner of Petite Taqueria in Larchmont (PTL)

Work harder than everyone around you, and always be the first one in and the last one out. —Matthew Abdoo, Executive Chef of Pig Beach in New York City

Everything in moderation. —Steve Zoerner, Chef and Owner of Swell Taco in Patchogue

Never let anyone see you sweat, which means no matter how stressed you are, don’t appear that way. —David Piacente, Executive Chef of Gosman’s Restaurant ion Montauk

Never be late for an event you are catering. It’s like an instant fail. —Lina Grammont, Chef at Caribbean Pearl Caterers

To enjoy every moment in life, because as you get older, time goes faster. —Arthur Wolf, Owner and Executive Chef of Smokin’ Wolf BBQ & More in East Hampton

Stay true to yourself and they’ll come. —Marissa Drago, Owner of Main Road Biscuit Co. in Jamesport

“Work with what you’ve got!” When I was a new line cook at my first restaurant, just getting the hang of the line, I was starting to get a bit mouthy and critical of some of the things at the restaurant. With a Trinidadian tone on his sharp words, the head line cook snapped, “Homeboy, shut up and work with what you got!” Sometimes we all need to do just that. Whether it’s with ingredients, staff, or even pots and pans, we have to find a way to extract the best from what’s right in front of us. —Brian Wilson, Executive Chef of North Fork Table & Inn in Southold

Be humble! —Justin Bazdarich, Chef and Owner of Speedy Romeo in New York City

“Draw what you see, not what you think you see.” —Adam Kaufer, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Grace & Grit

You can’t expect what you don’t inspect. —Darryl Harmon, Executive Chef of Clinton Hall in New York City

Keep your head on a swivel. —Taylor Knapp, Chef and Owner of Peconic Escargot and PAWPAW on the North Fork

Focus on experience first—the money will come later. —Courtney Sypher, Executive Chef of Sen Restaurant in Sag Harbor

Save your money for a rainy day. —Derek Axelrod, Partner of T Bar Southampton

“Work hard if you want something, there are no shortcuts.”—Pops —Matthew Birnstill, Executive Chef of The Quogue Club

Just because you are a woman and a chef, does not mean that everyone is going to, or has to, like you. —Amanda Wallace, Pastry Chef of Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton

Use the best ingredients you can and limit them to three or four. —Colin Ambrose, Chef and Owner of Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor

The good enough is the enemy of the best possible. —Ash Fulk, Director of Culinary Operations at Hill Country Barbecue Market in New York City

Don’t sing. —Steven Amaral, Chocolatier and Executive Chef of North Fork Chocolate Company in Aquebogue

“Cook your heart out.” It was from Phil Howard, two-star Michelin chef at The Square in London. I spent six months as an intern at The Square, and I still remember those words. Phil is one of the best chefs in the world who, in my opinion, hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves. The quote was written in a cookbook he gave me. It gives me inspiration to follow my own ideas and the encouragement to keep working. And that’s what I try to do every day at Osteria Leana. The cooking is really from the heart. —Peter Van Der Mije, Chef and Owner of Osteria Leana in Oyster Bay

Don’t say you’re going to do something, just plan what you need to do to get it done. —Elyse Richman, Owner of Shock Ice Cream in Westhampton Beach

Spending more to support local farmers will always be worth it. —Brian Schlitt, Executive Chef of The Clubhouse in East Hampton

My father’s: “Don’t ever take anything that doesn’t belong to you.” —Spiro Karachopan, Owner and Executive Chef of Spiro’s Restaurant & Lounge in Rocky Point

Work smart and do what you enjoy. —Sameer Mohan, Owner of Saaz in Southampton

Stop whining! Get up off your ass and try it again. —Tom Schaudel, Chef and Owner of A Lure and aMano on the North Fork

You’re no better than your ingredients. Keep it simple. —Matty Boudreau, Executive Chef 0f Green Hill Kitchen & Que in Greenport

“Honest hard work always pays off.” —my old man —Jeremy Blutstein, Executive Chef of Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina in Montauk

Read More East End Chefs Roundtables Here.

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