12/06/13 10:00am
12/06/2013 10:00 AM

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Suffolk County Community College culinary students will compete against each other at the downtown Riverhead campus Friday, but won’t know what they’re cooking until the event begins.

Much like the reality cooking show Chopped, students will receive a mystery basket of ingredients and asked to turn them into a dish. Judges will be evaluating each one’s creativity, presentation and taste.

The top chef will win a seven-night stay at the Sheraton Clearwater Beach Resort in Clearwater, Fla., and an opportunity to work under the supervision of the resort’s executive chef. The contest’s “Battle for the Beach” prize also includes round-trip airfare and ground transportation.

“This competition takes students a step closer to becoming professional chefs,” Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts Program director Richard Freilich said in a statement. “It is a great opportunity to help them grow and to see if this is truly a career they want to pursue.”

The free event starts at 2 p.m. and is open to the public.

For more information, contact the culinary school at (631) 548-3700.

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11/05/13 10:00am
11/05/2013 10:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Patrick Gaeta curing bacon earlier this year.

RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Patrick Gaeta curing bacon earlier this year.

When Patrick Gaeta launched North Fork Bacon earlier this year, the Wading River resident’s objective was simple: to offer customers premium bacon, smoked and cured the old-fashioned way, by hand.

North Fork Bacon, which is made from Berkshire pigs sourced out of upstate New York, popped up on the menus of multiple local restaurants this summer, including as a burger topping at Blackwells at Great Rock in Wading River. For a time, it was available for sale in one-pound packages at My Butcher, also in Wading River.

Now Mr. Gaeta, 31, is taking the next step in the future of North Fork Bacon by setting up shop in the retail space formerly occupied by The Pizza Pie, a 13-year-old pizzeria in the historic Wading River business district owned by Mike Roth that closed its doors in October.

Mr. Gaeta, a full-time x-ray technician at Long Island Bone and Joint, received the keys to his new storefront Nov. 4 and is shooting to open for business by March 1, he said. Joining him as a business partner in the venture is his friend and former co-worker, Michael Troyan.

“Lets face it,” Mr. Gaeta said. “Every town you go to has some form of diner, a deli that just blasts out sandwiches, three to five pizzerias and a Chinese food place. I want to bring a style of barbecue and restaurant to the area that many people haven’t seen and aren’t familiar with.”

Last month, Mr. Roth, who is also the president of the Wading River Chamber of Commerce, told the News-Review he might not stay in business much longer.

“I’ll just try to hold on as best I can,” he said at the time.

To better reflect menu offerings — egg sandwiches, omelets, waffles, barbecue sandwiches and cured meats smoked in-house are all planned in addition to bacon — Mr. Gaeta said the name of the business will change to North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse. The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch, he said, and will only be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the first few months of its debut. To ensure freshness, North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse will close its doors once all the day’s food is gone, Mr. Gaeta said.

“No one wants to see trays of prepared food coming out of the walk-in [freezer] and then heated up,” he said. “We’ll be doing everything fresh daily.”

Despite the fact that many of the storefronts in the historic Wading River business district sit empty, Mr. Gaeta – whose first job was at the now-closed Trotta’s Pizza Café in Wading River, located in the same retail space he’ll be moving into — isn’t concerned about being able to attract customers.

“We’re the only major thoroughfare to Wading River Beach,” he said of the business district’s location at the intersection of Sound Road and North Country Road. “Traffic is always going through there and with a place serving quality food, it’ll bring a crowd.

“I think of where I like to eat,” Mr. Gaeta said. “If the quality is there, it’s worth the trip.”

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11/04/13 9:00am
11/04/2013 9:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | A freshly shucked scallop on the half-shell.

Sunrise today marked the official opening of scalloping season on the North Fork.

Area baymen are heading out into state and Southold Town waters in search of the Atlantic bay scallop, found mostly in the small bays and harbors of the Peconic Bay, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Ed Densieski, a baymen from Riverhead said, “you never really know what to expect until the first day of the season.”

He has gone out scouting bay waters for baby scallops, and said he was hopeful it was going to be a good season.

According to the Peconic Estuary Program, during scalloping’s height about 500,000 pounds of bay scallops a season could be harvested from bay waters – equaling almost $2 million in dockside value.

But the scallop population was soon decimated following the first appearance of brown tide in 1985.

The sought-after shellfish has since been making a comeback over the past decade, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

In Southold and Riverhead Town waters, commercial fisherman are limited to five bushels of scallops per person per day.

Two or more people occupying the same boat may take not more than 10 bushels of scallops per day for commercial purposes.

Recreational fisherman can harvest a limit of one bushel per person per day.

10/05/13 10:20pm
10/05/2013 10:20 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | On a beautiful warm afternoon Saturday, a big crowd turned out for the Pour the Core hard cider festival.

Apple season has never tasted so good on the North Fork. The second annual Pour the Core hard cider festival drew more than 2,000 people to Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue Saturday.

To see more photos from the festival, check out Northforker.com.

09/22/13 8:00am
09/22/2013 8:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | North Fork Table & Inn owners Gerry Hayden and his wife, Claudia Fleming-Hayden, inside the Southold restaurant in a 2011 photo.

Local chefs and artisans will band together to help raise money for Gerry Hayden, the longtime executive chef and co-owner of Southold’s North Fork Table & Inn, who was diagnosed in 2011 with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“A Love Shared,” scheduled for Oct. 13 at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue, will include a wine and amuse-bouche tasting followed by an intimate, family-style dinner prepared by noted North Fork chefs, including Lia Fallon of The Riverhead Project and Keith Luce, of Greenport’s The Square. Local shops and artisans — including Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic and Southold’s A Taste of the North Fork — will provide hors d’oeuvres.

Event organizers hope to raise $75,000 to help provide quality-of-life care for Mr. Hayden, who is 48, and also to support ALS research.

“The event was sparked by an outpouring from the community around me, to help me with my quest to eradicate ALS permanently,” Mr. Hayden wrote in an e-mail. “It was my idea to start a farmers market at the restaurant and have only the farmers we use at the restaurant to share and promote the farm-to-table philosophy.”

Maria McBride, an event planner with Peconic Productions who is helping coordinate “A Love Shared,” said she began talking with Mr. Hayden earlier this year about putting together an event. “If Gerry can get up each day and face his health challenges with humor and grit, then we knew we could certainly create a memorable party to raise money to support Gerry’s fight with ALS,” she said.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a rapidly progressing, incurable and fatal neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness that results in paralysis, according to the Stony Brook University School of Medicine website.

As the phrenic nerve to the diaphragm muscles fails, patients lose the ability to breathe without ventilator support.

Mr. Hayden, who has lost the use of his hands to the disease, said he plans to publish a memoir about how cooking and food have molded him. The book will also include recipes.

In the meantime, Mr. Hayden said, there are three things he’d like to raise awareness for, three things close to his heart: funding for ALS research, the North Fork’s artisan farming community and the tight-knit, talented community of Long Island chefs he belongs to.

“‘A Love Shared’ is my mantra now,” he said. “The phrase itself is how I would liked to be remembered.”

Tickets for “A Love Shared” cost $250 each; only 200 are available.

To purchase tickets or make a donation, visit aloveshared.com or leave a message with Peconic Productions at 631-862-5414.

[email protected]

09/07/13 4:00pm
09/07/2013 4:00 PM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Downtown Riverhead restaurant Cliff's Rendezvous, which closed at the end of June due to damage from a kitchen fire, reopened its doors Sept. 7.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Downtown Riverhead restaurant Cliff’s Rendezvous, which closed at the end of June due to damage from a kitchen fire, reopened its doors Sept. 7.

A little more than two months after a small kitchen fire forced Cliff’s Rendezvous to close its doors, the downtown Riverhead restaurant reopened for business today with little fanfare but heaps of happy customers.

Christina Saunders, whose husband, Cliff Saunders, owns the casual bar and eatery, said Saturday afternoon she and her husband didn’t know until “the last minute” when the restaurant would be able to reopen.

“We had to make sure everything was in place,” she said. “We got all the permits and all the inspections done. Everybody gave us the green light, so as of yesterday we said, ‘That’s it! We can do it.’ We’ve been waiting a very long time.’ ”

A grease fire broke out at the popular restaurant June 25 when, Mr. Saunders said, one of the chefs in the kitchen left a pan of bacon unattended near the oven and boiler. Although it suffered minor damage, a small section of the restaurant’s roof near the chimney was charred as a result of the fire and carpeting in the lower dining room was damaged and needed to be replaced as well, Mr. Saunders said.

While Cliff’s Rendezvous was closed, Ms. Saunders said, she and the crew took time to give the restaurant a deep cleaning and make some repairs. Both the upper and lower dining room’s carpeted floors were replaced with ceramic tile that looks like hardwood flooring.

“We made good use of the time,” she said.

Lou Welsh, who has been the bartender at Cliff’s Rendezvous for the past 17 years, said between customers he was happy the restaurant had reopened.

“It’s been a long time,” he said.

To thank the firefighters who helped extinguish the fire, Ms. Saunders said the restaurant plans to host a dinner for the Riverhead Fire Department Monday evening.

“[The fire] was in the middle of that heat wave and some of the firefighters were in full uniform,” Ms. Saunders said. “We’ve been here a long time and they came out for us, and it’s nice to be able to say thank you.”

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08/13/13 2:30pm
08/13/2013 2:30 PM

DAWN WATSON PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SOUTHAMPTON PRESS| The scene at the 2012 Harvest East End. The event moves to Cutchogue for the first time this year.

We’re raffling off two tickets to Harvest East End and you have less than two days to enter the contest on northforker.com.

The event features 42 wineries and 34 restaurants helping to celebrate 40 years of Long Island winemaking. The event benefits East End Hospice, Group for the East End, The Peconic Land Trust and the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Foundation.

Harvest East End takes place Aug. 24 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at McCall Vineyards.

 

Click here to view the instructions and enter the raffle.

07/03/13 12:00pm
07/03/2013 12:00 PM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Vine & Hops Café is expected to open on East Main Street in downtown Riverhead later this summer.

A Jamesport couple plans to open a new wine, beer and coffee shop called Vines & Hops Café in downtown Riverhead next month.

Jeff McKay, a strength and conditioning coach who will be operating the 2,200 square-foot café with his wife, physical therapist Christine McKay, told the News-Review the East Main Street café will offer wine from the North Fork and California along with gourmet coffee and a variety of local craft beers.

“I’ve always wanted to get into the hospitality business and it just formulated in my head because there was nothing out here on the East End like this,” Mr. McKay said.

Artisan food prepared by the North Fork Chocolate Company including cheese platters, flatbread, chocolates and truffles will also be on the menu, which Mr. McKay said will change slightly according to season.

The space will also include couches, televisions in the “beer section,” and a gift shop area where customers can purchase gift baskets.The business will only serve wine that has a 90-point or higher distinction of greatness from Wine Spectator magazine.

“We want to bring quality products,” Mr. McKay said of the café, which he describes as having a “European feel, right down to the lighting.”

“The prices will be extremely affordable, though,” he said.

Vines & Hops Café will be located next to TheWarStore.com, a game shop that opened last month. Both rental properties, along with Twin Forks Bicycles, are owned by Riverhead Enterprises.

“This is the sixth new lease in an 18-month period that we’ve signed,” said Sheldon Gordon, the managing general partner of Riverhead Enterprises. “It’s been remarkable what the interest coming to downtown has been. It’s quite gratifying.”

In Mr. McKay’s estimation, downtown Riverhead is close to being an ideal location for Vines & Hops Café.

“We looked at [opening the shop] in Greenport but it didn’t appeal to us because the winters are so slow there,” Mr. McKay said. “With the theater open and businesses are starting to pop up, we thought, ‘Let’s take advantage of the opportunity and settle into downtown Riverhead.’”

Once the shop opens, Mr. McKay and his wife plan to encourage customers to kick back and relax with their favorite drink.

“We consider ourselves the ‘before’ and ‘after’ place – you can come here before a show or a movie,” Mr. McKay said. “People will be able to come and recognize their favorite beverage and have it in a comfortable atmosphere. It’s not a bar and it’s not a restaurant.

“It’ll be as if you’re home in your living room.”

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