Dan’s Taste 2021 Chefs Countdown: Brian Szostak, Justin’s Chop Shop

Chef Brian Szostak
Chef Brian Szostak

With a promise that Justin’s Chop Shop will be the next big thing on the East End food scene, Chef Brian Szostak has us eagerly waiting to be wowed by what he has in store for Dan’s Taste of Two Forks and the months ahead. Look forward to the exciting dish his “crazy brain” cooks up for Dan’s Taste on Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22.

For tickets and more information on all Dan’s Taste 2021 events, visit DansTaste.com.

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

Barbecues.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My crazy brain—there’s a lot up there—and cool ingredients. I’m always looking to come up with something special.

You can invite three people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who are they, and what would that meal be?

My wife, my daughter and my pops, he passed away before I really got into my groove, and we’re definitely going old-school Chinese starting off with a pu pu platter.

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

Any type of fried rice; I could eat it every meal.

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

Trust your gut.

Share your funniest, most unforgettable or oddest kitchen incident.

I do not want to incriminate myself or any of my past or present staff over the last 30 years, but I did barter horseradish mashed potatoes for Tonight Show tickets with Jimmy Fallon once.

Who do you most admire in the food/wine world and why?

The guys and girls behind the scenes (cooks and dishwashers) who don’t get the credit they deserve. Without them, guys like me wouldn’t have the opportunity to answer questions like this. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those guys backing me up all these years.

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

Justin’s Chop Shop—just wait and see what we have up our sleeve.

What are your hobbies, passions and interests outside the world of food, wine and work?

Golfing, spending time with the wife and kids and relaxing.

What’s your comfort food and why?

Ramen, dumplings, sushi—pretty much anything Asian—reminds me of my pops.

If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?

Headlining for a Neil Diamond cover band. A guy can dream, can’t he?

What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever tasted?

My first meal at Indian Accent in the city—Indian food with an Asian twist. It was that moment when I took more risks combining flavor profiles and cuisines.

What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?

Went to New Orleans pre-COVID—if that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what can.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Balance. The happiness of having the creative freedom to love what I do every day and the loving support from my family, and having the opportunity to spend more time with them.

What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?

I’m not sure how unique it is, but ’80s music during prep and ’60s and ’70s soul/R&B during service.

What has surprised you the most about working in the East End culinary scene?

I’ve worked out here for so long, nothing surprises me anymore.

What is your go-to karaoke song?

“Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks.

It’s your last weekend on earth—what’s the menu?

Nice dry-aged ribeye and maybe a clam pie from Frank Pepe’s—that’s my version of surf and turf.

We just handed you a glass of bubbly. Now please make a toast to summer on the East End.

Here’s to staying positive and testing negative!

And to learn more about Justin’s Chop Shop, visit justinschopshop.com.

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