It was considered a gamble when chefs Gerry Hayden and his wife, Claudia Fleming, left successful careers in the New York City dining scene to open a high-end farm-to-table restaurant in Southold.
Would Long Island’s tourist-driven and seasonal top fork be able to support the vision they had for the North Fork Table & Inn, a white tablecloth eatery with a focus on top-notch ingredients and a mission of supporting local producers?
But 10 years later, Hayden has been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award three times, the restaurant is still perennially ranked No. 1 on Long Island by Zagat and it still offers a seasonal and locally sourced menu with items like crudo of Atlantic black sea bass with sweet potato, cilantro, Fresno peppers, mizuna and citrus vinaigrette.
And though Hayden died this August of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, at the age of 50, his legacy lives on through the chefs who have benefited from his tutelage and the way the farm-to-table movement has been supercharged on the North Fork.
Photo Caption: Claudia Fleming and Gerry Hayden inside the North Fork Table & Inn. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)