Dock-to-Dish: The Way of Baron’s Cove Executive Chef Nicholas Vogel

This summer, Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor appointed Chef Nicholas Vogel as the resort and restaurant’s new executive chef. With a focus on local ingredients, seasonality and sustainability, Vogel’s newly launched menus feature contemporary American fare with an emphasis on dock-to-dish dining. He plans to change up the dishes offered seasonally at least three or four times per year while featuring daily specials, homemade pastas, scrumptious desserts and fresh in-house baked goods.

“I think the downtime is going to allow for experimenting and recipe development as we head into my first fall and winter here in Sag Harbor,” Vogel says. “I cannot wait to share my food with everyone that calls the East End home and highlight Baron’s Cove as a premiere restaurant in the Hamptons.”

Get to know the Restaurant at Baron’s Cove Executive Chef Nicholas Vogel!

Tell us about your culinary background and how those experiences prepared you for your role as Executive Chef of Baron’s Cove.

My culinary background is very tied into my own personal background. I grew up in this industry! My mother worked in restaurants, and I also worked at a family owned bar/restaurant as one of my first jobs. From dishwasher, to bussing tables, cooking, waiting tables, bartending and front of house management—I have done it all.

Most recently I was the executive chef at Alta Strada in D.C. That was my most recent position with the Schlow Restaurant Group, and previously I was a sous chef within that same restaurant group. I went to college for business/finance as a way out of the “industry” when I was 18, however I could not shake the hospitality itch. Finding myself wanting to be back in the kitchen after college, I dedicated the last six years of my life to trying to become the best chef and businessman I can be—working and training to be an executive chef in various restaurants and hotels.

Is there anything that sets Baron’s Cove apart from the restaurants you’ve worked at previously?

I would have to say the location and seasonality is what sets Baron’s Cove apart from the last restaurant I was executive chef at. It is certainly a change for me coming from Washington D.C. However, I grew up vacationing in and around Cape May, New Jersey, and previously worked at Cape Resorts properties (The Ebbitt Room and Beach Plum Farm Kitchen) about four years ago. Understanding the nature of a resort destination is something I am familiar with and have previously worked in before.

Seared Scallops at Baron's Cove, Photo: Doug Young Photography
Seared Scallops at Baron’s Cove, Photo: Doug Young Photography

How have you developed your relationships with East End farms, vineyards, seafood purveyors, etc.? And who are some you’re currently working with at Baron’s Cove?

Developing is the key word. I am a few months into reopening the restaurant and starting the new culinary program from scratch here while trying to source the best local products and produce I can. One of the reasons I came here was to take advantage of the local bounty, and be more connected to farmers, fishers, and be an active member of the East End community. I am currently working with Braun Seafood, Haskell Seafood, Foster Farms and Treiber Farms, to name a few… Captain Peter Haskell will text me early in the morning to fill me in on his catch and hours later you will find that fresh seafood on your plate. I can tell you the boat that the fish came off of.

Are the Baron’s Cove menus the first Hamptons restaurant menus you’ve developed, and what were some of your goals or your overall vision for them?

The new menu for summer 2020 was the first “Hamptons” menu I have developed. My goal and vision for any menu is to bring bright, bold and clean flavors with exciting plating for the guest’s eyes. I look forward to continuing to make the Restaurant at Baron’s Cove a destination and for it to be able to stand apart while still offering a great amenity to the hotel guests staying with us.

Have you always been a proponent of dock-to-dish dining, or is this something new you’ve begun utilizing at Baron’s Cove? How does the freshly caught seafood affect the quality or taste of the dishes prepared with it?

I have always enjoyed fishing from a young age, and I think my ideas and morals of sustainability apply to my mission here at Baron’s Cove. I try to use the freshest local product available, by using my partnerships with local captains and vendors to use in-shore species native to this part of Long Island. Dock-to-dish is the equivalent of farm-to-table, and it affects the quality and taste immensely. The average hands that a single fish or product passes through from the sea to the guest is 16. I am trying to cut that down to two—the fisherman and myself. Doing whole fish butchery and minimizing the amount of time that a fish is caught until it is cooked helps us deliver a product that I am really proud of serving to our guests.

To learn more about Baron’s Cove, view Vogel’s menus and place a reservation, visit baronscove.com.

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