Dan’s Taste Weekend Celebrated East End Bounty in Style

Dan's Taste weekend was a resounding success with attendees
Dan's Taste weekend was a resounding success with attendees
LuLu Romano

Dan’s Taste welcomed hundreds of hungry guests and eager contestants last weekend to two fantastic nights at the Nova’s Ark Project in Water Mill. Whether it was mouthwatering food, countless cocktails or two nights of live music by DJ Phresh presented by Mohegan Sun, this wasn’t a celebration to forget.

GrillHampton

The weekend kicked off with Dan’s GrillHampton presented by Corona and Piccinini Bros, pitting East End chefs against Manhattan chefs in a one-of-a-kind cooking competition. With such delicious pickings it was hard to choose a winner, but when the votes were tallied after a night of non-stop dancing, savoring and sipping, Pig Beach NYC was crowned the Corona People’s Choice Award champion of 2021—earning chef Matty Boudreau an unbelievable fourth consecutive win (this time with chef Rob Shawger), and not even for the same restaurant. The man is unstoppable! Pig Beach NYC’s burnt end brisket taco, served with chili-rubbed shrimp and an avocado relish in a corn tortilla, simply melted in your mouth.

The line for Gotham Burger Social Club’s famous Smash Burger was hard to miss, and for good reason. Complete with two beef patties cooked to perfection, melted American cheese, grilled onions and fresh pickles between a toasted potato bun, each bite sent you to burger heaven. A glass of Barton & Guestier’s ripe pinot noir or Angel’s Envy Kentucky bourbon paired with this treat perfectly.

GrillHampton lived up to its name this year, as both teams’ array of sizzling ribs, tender pulled pork and beautifully marinated steaks were every barbecue-lover’s dream come true. The Hamptons chefs put new twists on classic barbecue staples, from Bamboo Southampton’s chicken and beef skewers, to Gurney’s lamb ribs served with a tahini puree, to Rooted Hospitality Group’s marinated pork belly on a crispy rice cake base. Team Hamptons even brought not one, but two beautiful steak choices: The crowd couldn’t get enough of Peter Ambrose’s sea salt and spice crusted strip cut, or the house-marinated steak served with a cool tomato, onion and avocado salad by Sydney’s “Taylor” Made Cuisine. Of course, East End cuisine wouldn’t be complete without a taste of the sea, and Jennilee Morris of Southold’s Grace & Grit Events served up spicy chipotle shrimp on sweet corn coulis.

When they weren’t enjoying an ice-cold Blue Moon beer or a Tanqueray Sevilla gin and tonic, guests were sampling Team NYC’s equally tasty selection of delicacies. Not to be outdone, the New York City chefs delivered barbecue to set your stomach rumbling. Jase Franklyn of Jase’s BBQ and Cenobio Canalizo of Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue both prepared juicy smoked ribs with heat and flavor. The candy apple finish on Queens Custom Barbecue chef Matthew Fisher’s pork burnt ends added a sweet dimension to an old barbecue favorite, and Big Papa Smokem BBQ chef Mario Chape’s delicious whole sweet suckling pig wowed the guests with its tenderness and full-bodied flavor. Hudson Smokehouse’s chicken wings paired perfectly with a can of Corona beer or a La Croix sparkling water. Backyard Brine provided a delicious vegetarian spin on a potato salad, served with jicama and scallions.

Anyone who still had room for dessert couldn’t wait to try Hayley Botte of Afragola Dolce’s pistachio cake with cherry compote, or North Fork Doughnut Company’s adorable mini doughnuts.

Justin's Chop Shop winning Dan's Taste of Two Forks' first-ever Blue Moon Award
Justin’s Chop Shop winning Dan’s Taste of Two Forks’ first-ever Blue Moon AwardLuLu Romano

Taste of Two Forks

The fun didn’t stop there: Saturday night saw the 10th annual Dan’s Taste of Two Forks event at Nova’s Ark. Some of the best chefs from the Twin Forks competed for first place with a gorgeous spread of dishes, representing the finest cuisine Long Island has to offer. Justin’s Chop Shop of Westhampton Beach won the day with an original and tasty burger dumpling, packed with chopped meat, marbled bleu cheese and bourbon bacon jam that went down perfectly with a glass of Don Julio tequila. Vegan options were well represented, including a tangy and fresh local corn and farro salad by Calissa, and KonTiki/Three Fourteen chef Jose “Cheo” Avila’s crispy Brussels sprouts were complimented perfectly by a homemade Korean gochujang sauce.

Long Island is world famous for its seafood, and the Taste of Two Forks tables were swimming in fish of all kinds. The list goes on and on: T Bar Southampton’s classic tuna tartare, Gurney’s melt-in-your-mouth lobster croquettes, a tender tataki of striped bass with pineapple by The Halyard at Sound View, sushi rolls from Union Sushi & Steak, and Hen of the Woods’ king salmon shiitake tartare (perfect with a glass of cold Tito’s vodka and lemonade). The Cheese Shoppe’s shrimp ceviche with cucumber and mango was cool on the tongue and filled with interesting flavors. None of the chefs were afraid to experiment with Long Island staples: 668 The Gig Shack of Montauk served Manila clams sautéed with local baby potatoes, and Riverhead’s The Preston House created a thinly sliced duck breast dish with black garlic jam and whipped goat cheese. Cuisine from across the world was also on display. Ellen’s on Front dished out Korean-style pulled pork with kimchi served on a lettuce leaf, Chef Frank’s Market offered a delicious vegan empanada and Mirabelle at Three Village Inn spiced up the night with a hot pork and chorizo chili that went great with one of Newlight Breadworks’ crispy sourdough rolls.

Just like GrillHampton on Friday, Taste of Two Forks wasn’t lacking in inventive and sweet dessert options, from Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake Co.’s crumb cake in five different flavors, to Madeline the Baker’s Battenberg Cake (hand painted with edible dyes!) and North Fork Chocolate Company’s deconstructed caramel truffle, served in a shot glass.

The Taste of Two Forks VIP lounge was the place to be in the Hamptons on Saturday night. Guests could relax with a glass of sparkling Dear Mom wine or an Honest Tea lemonade and watch the sun setting on the beautiful steel statues throughout the Nova’s Ark Project grounds. Under the breezy marquee, guests could peruse stylish glasses by Cohen’s Fashion Optical, mix an organic, low-calorie drink by Miami Cocktail Co., or find out more about key New York community businesses such as Northwell Health and Suburban Propane.

Thank you to all our wonderful sponsors, talented chefs and fantastic guests who made this weekend possible—until next year!

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