Those who tuned into ABC’s foodie talk show “The Chew” this week might have seen a familiar face.
We’re not talking about TLC’s favorite fashion stylist Clinton Kelly or well-known Iron Chef Michael Symon, two of the show’s five co-hosts. Instead it was local farmer Jeff Negron, owner of kitchen garden management service The Growing Seed.
Negron, who lives in Southold, appeared in a five-minute feature where he showcased his work with two East End restaurant gardens—Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton and Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, formerly owned by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.
The piece was filmed last August after The Chew’s executive producer contacted Negron.
“The executive producer contacted me and at the same time I was speaking at Parrish Art Museum at PechaKucha, a seasonal event,” he said of being chosen for the show. “They invite local people in the community to talk with 20 pictures for 20 seconds. [The executive producer] was keeping eyes on who was doing that event.”
Negron said that the feature was shot in one day and required more takes than he expected. Overall, he said, he enjoyed the experience, though he hasn’t watched himself on the show.
Many others saw it, however, evidenced by an increase in his website’s traffic immediately following the episode’s premiere.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Negron said. “I asked our web designer what traffic was like Thursday after 2 p.m. and it went from five visits to 50. I also had five calls within two hours of the show airing.”
He said people called to say hello, introduce themselves and inquire about how far the business reaches. A restaurant even called interested to work with Negron.
“I was shocked. I didn’t really expect any of that,” he said.
The episode is currently available to watch online. Negron’s piece is about thirty minutes into the episode.
“[The feature] was pretty extraordinary, I’ve never done anything like that,” he said. “I’m used to speaking a lot because I’ve had grants with school gardens and I talk to school kids so I was comfortable talking, but sitting there and being interviewed was a surreal experience.”
Talking with students at school gardens is one of the services The Growing Seed provides along with its farm concierge services.
Although currently focused on the Hamptons, The Growing Seed is expanding to the North Fork later this year in an effort to grow the business and sell wholesale products.
“We’re opening up an acre with Charnews Farm at the Peconic Land Trust [in Southold],” Negron said. “We’re looking to have a winter [community supported agriculture] share and just start to evolve the vegetable garden in the winters and see what happens with it.