Two new sous chefs at the North Fork’s most acclaimed restaurant have brought serious dining backgrounds from the nation’s capital.
Chefs Julien Shapiro, 41, a 1992 Shoreham-Wading River High School grad, and Scott Ryan, 38, of Boston are both alumni of restaurateur Derek Brown’s restaurants in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington D.C. They assumed their new roles at Southold’s the North Fork Table and Inn in June.
The pair met while working for Brown when Ryan oversaw Spanish-influenced eatery Mockingbird Hill and Shapiro ran the kitchens at Eat the Rich and Southern Efficiency.
The chefs were brought on board at NOFOTI to help multi-James Beard Award nominated chef Gerry Hayden continue to execute his vision in the kitchen. Hayden was diagnosed with the debilitating neurological disorder ALS in 2011.
“We came up here in January and [Hayden] offered us the opportunity to run the show,” Shapiro said during a recent interview in the North Fork Table and Inn’s dining room.
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Shapiro, who was called a “charcuterie master” by The Washington Post, left Eat the Rich in November, according to the publication. He had kept in touch with Hayden after working together at Aureole in New York City several years ago and the pair reconnected last fall.
“Chef has worked with Julien in the past and knew their abilities and talent,” said James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, NOFOTI co-owner and Hayden’s wife, Claudia Fleming. “They definitely collaborate, but everything is approved [by Hayden.] He gives them ideas and lets them run with it.”
Some favorites that will remain are the Peconic Bay fluke crudo and sirloin steak of grass-fed Joyce Farms beef. But some new dishes include chicken porchetta, a deboned chicken stuffed with pancetta and olives. They will, of course, continue to source ingredients from local vendors like Mar-Gene Farms in Mattituck and Race Rock Oysters in Orient.
Shapiro, who left his hometown shortly after high school, noted how much the region has changed since the early 90’s.
“There are a lot more farm stands,” he said. “We are living at 8 Hands Farm. That didn’t exist. We’re buying stuff from KK’s. That didn’t exist.”
Ryan contrasted the North Fork’s proximity to farms and the sea with working in a major metropolitan area.
“For me the best part is being able to meet the people who are growing the food,” added Ryan. “It eliminates the mystery of where food came from.”
The pair have signed on for at least the season, though it is not clear how long they will stay after that. North Fork Table and Inn was listed for $3.8 million in September 2014. Hayden, an alumni of Manhattan restaurants Aureole and Amuse and Fleming, formerly of Gramercy Tavern, opened the restaurant in 2006 along with partners Mary and Mike Mraz.
In the meantime, you might see the new chefs out on the town.
“We’re regulars at Sophie’s,” Shapiro said. “The fried flounder hits the spot.”
In other news, there are some other new happenings at the restaurant.
Its weekly farmers market — by many accounts one of the best on the East End — has resumed on Friday mornings from 9 a.m. until noon. The restaurant will offer its own cured meats, as well as Fleming’s famous confections, at the market as well.
“We’re calling it North Fork Table and Inn provisions,” Fleming said. “We’re trying to sell a lot of things people ask for.”
And raise a flute during NOFOTI’s happy hour in the sparkling wine and champagne garden on Friday evenings from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.