Dan’s Taste 2021 Chefs: Mike Jeanty, Claudio’s

Chef Mike Jeanty
Chef Mike Jeanty

While 10 years of Dan’s Taste events is an exciting milestone to hit, that’s got nothing on the Claudio’s family of restaurants, which celebrated turning 150 in 2020. Calling them a Greenport institution would be the understatement of the century (and a half)! Chef Mike Jeanty will show off some of Claudio’s signature cuisine at Dan’s Chefs of the North Fork on Saturday, July 10.

First word (or words) that comes to mind when you hear “Taste of Summer?”

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I always find myself inspired by reading and, of course, by other chefs like Jean-Georges.

What’s your favorite dish to prepare, and do you enjoy eating it as much as preparing it?
I love seafood and find that preparing any type of fish is both fun and delicious!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Pay it forward through teaching. When I first started many years ago, I didn’t know much about cooking, and through the guidance and teaching of Chef Franklin Becker, I learned an incredible amount. He gave me the opportunity to grow, and through that I learned that is the best thing you can do for others.

Who do you most admire in the food and wine world, and why?
I absolutely love creating new dishes and pairing them with wine. Building a tasting menu is pure fun.

What is going to be the “next big thing” on the East End food scene?
I dare not assume what the incredible and dynamic East End marketplace will call the next big thing.

What are your hobbies, passions and interests outside the world of food, wine and work?
The kitchen is my life. The next best thing is spending time with loved ones.

What’s your comfort food, and why?
Chicken and waffles! I just love the flavor pairing—sweet and salty.
If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?
Construction. It’s a family business that I started in when I was 14, and if I wasn’t in the kitchen, I’d be on a job site.

What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever tasted?
I’ve got to say snake. I had it in the South and will never forget it.

What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?
This past year I took a trip through the South (Louisiana, Texas, Georgia). It was a personal vacation that turned into a food lovers trip that got me excited about cooking during a time when our industry, especially New York, was going through it.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t think I will be able to answer that question fully for few more years, but I do I have one situation I am really proud of. I was still young in the kitchen and a newly named head chef and my sous chef ended up having personal issues that required him to no-show. It was summer in a Manhattan waterside hotspot, and I was left to steer the ship and call the shots. I felt like a lone wolf, but through perseverance, grit, teamwork and a little bit of madness, I got through it with flying colors.

What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?
I love my early morning quiet time in the kitchen.

What has surprised you the most about working in the East End culinary scene?
The incredible access to local farmers and fisherman who are passionate about what they do and whose deep knowledge about their specialty is inspiring and provides and requires accountability.

What is your go-to karaoke song?
“Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses.

It’s your last weekend on earth—what’s the menu?
Without a doubt, it has to be foie gras, caviar, chicken and waffles and a fresh fish dish.

We just handed you a glass of bubbly. Now please make a toast to summer on the East End.
Every year at this time, we find ourselves craving that sunshine and summer life, that relaxation and peace, that (Claudio’s) lobster roll and crisp rosé! Though that is still at the heart of what we all seek, this year I want to toast to us finding each other in that sunshine, to us coming together again as friends and family and colleagues, stronger and more patient than in years past. Cheers to a summer of beautiful views—cheers to looking at all of you!

For tickets and more information on all Dan’s Taste 2021 events, visit DansTaste.com. And to learn more about Claudio’s, visit claudios.com.

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