Dan’s Taste 2021 Chefs: Justin Schwartz, Mattitaco

Justin Schwartz
Justin Schwartz

Whether you’ve ordered from the Mattitaco Food Truck or eaten at the restaurant in Mattituck, it’s impossible to deny the incredible freshness and authenticity of the tacos on offer. Owner Justin Schwartz is bringing the delectable tacos to 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?
The bounty of locally available ingredients.

You can invite three people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who are they, and what would that meal be?
Both my parents and Dude, my first dog. Matzah brei.

What’s your favorite dish to prepare, and do you enjoy eating it as much as preparing it?
Paella and absolutely.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Work smarter, not harder.

Share your funniest, most unforgettable or oddest kitchen incident.
I chopped myself from the Chopped final round of interviews for the show. The people conducting the interview kept calling me “Chef Justin Schwartz.” I’m not a chef. I kept correcting them and finally said, “Please stop calling me ‘chef;’ it’s a total discredit to people who are chefs!” They stopped the interview and said I could leave.

Who do you most admire in the food and wine world, and why?
Chef Noah Schwartz for doing the damn thing, getting it done and changing the game once again. And Chef Alex Stupak for the same damn reason.

What is going to be the “next big thing” on the East End food scene?
Mattitaco, obviously.

What are your hobbies, passions and interests outside the world of food, wine and work?
Caring for my seven rescue dogs, surfing, skateboarding, traveling and living my best life.

What’s your comfort food, and why?
Wednesday’s Table egg, cheese and chorizo breakfast sandwich—puts me in my happy place.

If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?
Sheesh, it’s like 32 years in the industry for me. I think the only other job I really have had is working on boats, so probably fishing or sea tow or something like that.

What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever tasted?
Alan Gabay’s tandoori chicken—had to be 25-plus years ago I ate it, and I still remember exactly what it tasted like. Also, Nosmo King’s skate wing burrito.

What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?
Ecuador never ceases to amaze me—the food, the people, the culture.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’m here doing this interview, six feet above ground.

What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?
I’m a lefty, so the line always has to get flipped when I’m working.

What has surprised you the most about working in the East End culinary scene?
It’s a f—ing awesome community of really awesome people—so stoked to be a part of it.

It’s your last weekend on earth—what’s the menu?
Local tuna cooked every which way.

We just handed you a glass of bubbly. Now please make a toast to summer on the East End.
Don’t let the door hit you where the good lord split you. Thanks for a whaley good summer, see you next year.

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

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