Arielle Ferrara is new head chef at the Riverhead Project

The Riverhead Project owner Dennis McDermott and executive chef Arielle Ferrara. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

The Riverhead Project owner Dennis McDermott and executive chef Arielle Ferrara. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

The Riverhead Project’s owner publicly introduced the eatery’s new executive chef at a dinner celebrating the much vaunted Riverhead restaurant’s third anniversary Tuesday.

Up-and-coming chef Arielle Ferrara will take over the kitchen following Lia Fallon’s departure to launch a new Speonk restaurant earlier this month.

The night’s menu included nods to the Riverhead Project’s past chefs featuring the district salad, created by former chef Greg Ling, and grilled Race Rock oysters, originally prepared by Fallon.

The entree, seared scallops with crispy herb panko and pea shoots, was Ferrara’s invention.

“Instead of burying the history of my chefs, I want to honor them,” owner Dennis McDermott said. “I love change. [Ferrara] is looking at this as the beginning of something.”

While not exactly a newcomer on the East End culinary scene — Ferrara did stints in the kitchen at 1 North Steakhouse in Hampton Bays and at Desmond’s restaurant and lounge in Wading River — this will be her first time helming a restaurant. She has also worked for the upscale chain J. Alexander’s in Tampa, Fla.

Ferrara, an East Moriches native and graduate of Johnson and Wales University, said she enjoys cooking a range of cuisines from Italian to Indian.

“I want to incorporate a lot of cultures, but keep it local,” Ferrara said. “He (McDermott) loves creativity and a lot of different styles.”

Dennis McDermott wears pants to match the wallpaper inside the downtown Riverhead eatery. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Dennis McDermott wears pants to match the wallpaper inside the downtown Riverhead eatery. (Credit: Vera Chinese)