Twenty-seven may seem like an impossibly young age to helm the kitchen of one of Long Island’s premier restaurants, but the owners of North Fork Table and Inn say their new chef de cuisine has the drive, talent and work ethic to continue the mission of the eatery’s founding chef.
That’s partly because Stephan Bogardus worked under the late Gerry Hayden, learning firsthand from one of the region’s most well-respected chefs.
“It was a natural fit,” said co-owner Claudia Fleming, a James Beard Award-winning pastry chef and Hayden’s widow. “Gerry mentored Stephan and he is probably the closest to anyone we’ve ever had here who could pull off what Gerry was able to. [Gerry] saw a lot of himself in him.”
Hayden, who suffered from ALS, died this August after succumbing to complications of the disease. He was 50.
A Cutchogue native, Bogardus said he lives and breathes all things food-related.
During his time off, he said, he likes to hunt, fish and garden. A proficient bow hunter with a freezer full of his kills, he claims not to have purchased meat for his personal consumption in 18 months. His idea of a good time, he said, is grabbing a clam rake and a friend to go foraging for dinner.
“There’s nothing I like more than cooking. I woke up this morning thinking of white rutabagas,” he said.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Bogardus most recently served as the executive chef at the exclusive Locust Hill Country Club located just outside Rochester.
In addition to the new chef, there are a few other changes in store for North Fork Table and Inn, Fleming said. The restaurant has recently switched to an a la carte menu. Previously only a three-course and five-course price-fixe menu was available for patrons in the dining room and only those sitting at the bar could order a la carte. (A three-course dinner will still be offered for $65.)
The autumn menu includes first courses like the restaurant’s popular raw yellowfin tuna and seared Hudson Valley foie gras with glazed daikon, radish syrup and Chervil ($25, or a $15 supplement when included in the price-fixe) and crudo of Atlantic black sea bass with sweet potato, cilantro, Fresno peppers, mizuna and citrus vinaigrette ($17).
Main courses included staples like pan-roasted Long Island duck breast served with crispy duck confit strudel and black beluga lentils, savoy cabbage and roasted duck-juniper emulsion ($36) as well as black pepper-dusted grass-fed sliced striploin of Australian beef with garlic scented local kale, red wine risotto and veal reduction ($38).
Sides like pan-roasted cauliflower ($8), sweet potato purée ($8) and red win beet risotto ($10) are available as well.
Another modification you can expect to see is a family-friendly hour from weekdays 5 until 6 p.m. beginning this December when a menu similar to that of the North Fork Food Truck will be served and the little ones will be welcome.
“We wanted to make a more casual and more accessible option,” Fleming said. “We don’t want people to feel they have to be tied to the three courses. The trend is moving away from fine dining and we need to adapt to that.”
And though the restaurant was listed for sale last year, “We’re still going full steam ahead,” Fleming said.
“We’re still 100 percent committed.”