L. to R.: Oheka Castle Executive Pastry Chef Daniel Andreotti, The Halyard Chef Stephan Bogardus, Osteria Umbra Smithtown Chef Marco Pelligrini, and Linda Johnson of Chocology Stony Brook.

Taste The Greats, the upcoming celebration of the fine dining served up by Long Island’s leading chefs, is coming to Oheka Castle in Huntington in March, complete with beer, wine, and spirits pairings.

In preparation for this culinary celebration presented by the Long Island Press and its parent company, Schneps Media, each month we’re profiling five of the dozen-plus chefs who will be among the stars of Taste The Greats. Here are the latest. Sponsors for Taste The Greats include Freeport Jaguar and Uleva.

Linda Johnson, Chocology Stony Brook

Linda Johnson

What dish do you enjoy preparing with chocolate? Sweet potato brownies. They’re soft, gooey, and oh-so-chocolatey! They are not only extremely delicious but healthy too and everyone loves them. If we get enough comments, maybe we’ll bring them to Taste the Greats.

Are there any misconceptions among foodies that you’d like to clarify? I think people are still getting used to the idea and the price difference of artisan handmade chocolates. The quality and quantity of cocoa butter in each artisan, bean-to-bar chocolate and the resulting depth and breadth in taste is worlds apart compared to that of a mass-produced chocolate. 

What are some interesting food and drink pairings that event-goers must try when they come to Oheka? During events when our clients walk up with a pickle, meatballs, coffee, even lemonade, our job is to pair them up with a chocolate that will complement whatever is available at the moment. It’s a lot of fun and we’ve learned a lot about pairing chocolate with all kinds of food and drink. 

Chocology Stony Brook is located at 1099 N. Country Rd. in Stony Brook. It can be reached at 631-901-7151 or chocologyunlimited.com

Chef Stephan Bogardus, The Halyard 

Stephan Bogardus. Photo by David Benthal.

What drew you to a career in the kitchen? I was not accepted to any good pre-law programs, which was my first choice of education. I found success in kitchens because I really really enjoy learning. There are so many challenges and so many solutions; being put in a position to make decisions at such a pace in real-time situations is very fun for me. 

How would you define your cooking style? Focused. I love what I love but if it doesn’t make sense for where you are, then the expressive aspect will never make sense. We are waterfront on the North Fork and the area really reminds me of a sandy South of France. The culture of wine, food, indulgence, and leisure in our prime season really leads me to cooking in that style.

What dish do you enjoy cooking most? I love cooking eggs. Quality eggs are such a rich indulgence and provide such an array of opportunities for manipulation. The egg is like a textbook for a cook: If you pay close attention to what is happening to an egg cooking, there is an endless source of opportunities to learn.

What is your favorite food-related memory? Once during a pre-shift meeting we were reviewing a short rib dish I had just put on the menu and acclaimed chef Gerry Hayden told the whole staff it was the best short rib he had ever had. The validation my teacher gave me brought me to tears and evoked an emotion far stronger than if I had been the one to eat the dish. 

Are there any misconceptions among foodies that you would like to clarify? If food gets you jacked up and excited, great, share that emotion as a sense of joy and connection, not that of comparison or negativity. Use the love for food as means to connect, not as a token of judgement. Avoid tension and stress, have a good time, eat great food.

The Halyard is located at 58775 County Rd. 48 in Greenport. It can be reached at 631-477-0666 or thehalyardgreenport.co

Chef Marco Pelligrini, Osteria Umbra Smithtown

Marco Pellegrini. Photo by Randee Daddona

What drew you to a career in the kitchen? I grew up learning this from my mother and helping her in the kitchen. Our family has a passion for high-quality ingredients and creative cuisine. It is our culture in Umbria to respect natural and pure ingredients and give a great attention to detail. 

How would you define your cooking style? I love to use the best ingredients from all over the world to take a traditional Italian dish and make it modern. This makes every meal a culinary experience. Our diners will experience traditional flavors in a way they haven’t before. 

What dish do you enjoy preparing most? As a good Italian, I love to make fresh pasta. But one of my favorite dishes to make is roasted suckling pig slow-cooked over a wood fire. I think this is one of the traditions that comes directly from the Roman Empire. 

What is your favorite food-related memory? I remember as a child on Sundays always waking up to the delicious smell of food cooking in the kitchen and the noise of my mom shuffling around and the clanking of pots and pans. Later, my brother and sister and our whole family would join us. For me, a meal is a reason for family to come together and celebrate. 

Are there any misconceptions among foodies that you would like to clarify? Many foodies think you have to add so many ingredients to a dish and that’s what makes the dish great and shows the skill of the chef. My philosophy is to treat the ingredients with more respect. Creativity and innovation are important. I like to take the best-quality ingredient and let it be the shining star. 

Osteria Umbra is located at 197 Terry Rd. in Smithtown. It can be reached at osteriaumbrali.com and opens in March, right after Taste The Greats.

Executive Pastry Chef Daniel Andreotti, Oheka Castle

Daniel Andreotti

What drew you to a career in the kitchen? I’ve always been drawn to the kitchen because it’s simply a happy place for me to be adventurous with recipes, play, and create delicious food. Although I am an all-around chef and a very good cook, my true passion is baking. Baking and advanced cake decorating can be challenging, but with precision and concentration, I find it relaxing.

How would you define your cooking/baking style? Methodical, relying heavily on the recipe, especially being exactly precise with weights, measurements, and time, respecting baking as a science. When it comes to decorating a cake, my style would definitely have to be freestyle. Enthusiastically having fun with the overall esthetic look of the final creation and absolutely not going by the book, instead ending up with something totally original in design.

What dish do you enjoy preparing most? I adore family-style recipes of any kind  — big dishes of lasagna, beautiful salads made from the garden — and they can be down home cooking or even hoity-toity fancy dinner party food. I have two favorite things to bake: flourless chocolate torte and Swiss profiteroles.  

What is your favorite food-related memory? My happiest food memory took place in my bakery in 1995, when a beautiful, tall, dark girl walked in to help her sister choose a wedding cake. I was very taken by her. Six months later, the tall, dark girl, whose name was Lisa, returned to the bakery, this time to help her best friend choose her wedding cake. Lisa asked me to be her date at this wedding. We sat outside through most of it, talking through the night. On our next date, I brought her her favorite cake, a nut cake set off with coffee buttercream. Six months later, I married Lisa. And I made the wedding cake, of course!

Are there any misconceptions among foodies that you would like to clarify? Most people think that any professional chef is automatically a master baker and cake decorator. Not true. Baking is an art of its own with a high degree of difficulty. You take a risk if you deviate from recipes. Even if you are not changing a recipe, it can still fail on you if the humidity is weird that day or you use a different brand of flour. 

Oheka Castle is located at 135 West Gate Dr. in Huntington. It can be reached at 631-659-1400 or oheka.com

Live Jazz!

Dandy Wellington and his jazz band will be performing at Taste The Greats.

Dandy’s appreciation for the swinging big bands, elegant parties, and beautifully tailored clothing of the 1920s and ’30s, paired with his contemporary edge, make him a certifiable renaissance man and a true modern dandy.

Taste The Greats – Long Island will be held from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, 2020 at Oheka Castle, 135 West Gate Dr. in Huntington. Tickets are $100, or $165 for VIP and afterparty access. Tickets can be purchased at TasteTheGreats.com

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