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 on March 14, complete with wines, craft beer, and spirits.
The following is a sample of some of the chefs that will be serving their signature tasting at the event. For a complete list of the chefs involved visit tastethegreats.com. VIP tickets are already sold out, but a limited number of General Admission Tickets are still available and can be purchased online.
Meet Chef Lidia Bastianich, host of Lidia’s Kitchen on PBS
The Emmy award-winning television host, bestselling cookbook author and restaurateur will be on hand as a special guest at Taste The Greats offering a meet-and-greet and book signing for some lucky attendees. She has held true to her Italian roots and culture, which she proudly and warmly invites her fans to experience. She is the driving force behind four restaurants and half a dozen Eataly food emporiums.
Chef Peter Van Der Mije, Osteria Leana
What drew you to a career in the kitchen? I enjoy working with other chefs and the front of the house team so guests can have an all-around memorable experience, from the food to the friendly faces.
How would you define your cooking style? Simplicity. If an ingredient cannot be tasted in a dish, then remove it.
What dish do you enjoy preparing the most? I enjoy a simple, pan-seared chicken with fresh salad greens. The dish is healthy and delicious, and when all the ingredients are fresh, it can’t be beat.
What is your favorite food-related memory? A tortilla soup I had at Mesa Grill, a Bobby Flay restaurant in New York City. It was probably the first time I went to a restaurant that was run by a celebrity chef.
Are there any misconceptions among foodies that you’d like to clarify? Long Island restaurants are usually slow on weekdays, but with this slower pace we can make stronger connections with our guests who then become our regulars and friends.
Chef Terri Novak, Avo Taco
What drew you to a career in the kitchen? I actually began cooking full meals for myself — first out of necessity then out of enjoyment. That continued until when I was considering what to do with my career.
How would you define your cooking style? Creative. I love the challenge of working with the four different concepts that are part of Rooted Hospitality Group and building out the menus that go along with its very different styles and brands.
What dish do you enjoy preparing the most? I love making tacos. Who doesn’t love a really great taco? Creating tacos from the shell up, so to speak, provides such a rich opportunity to come up with something new and exciting.
What is your favorite food-related memory? It started many years ago when all of my friends would gather together after school. I enjoyed the art of preparing a meal as we all would share stories of our day.
Are there any misconceptions amongst foodies that you’d like to clarify? Most foodies will walk into a restaurant with their phone in hand ready to take a photo of the most elaborate dish or cocktail to share with their followers. I believe the most delicious dishes are made with simple recipes using quality ingredients.
Christopher James Cappello, Executive Chef, Oheka Castle
What drew you to a career in the kitchen? When I was young, my family would often meet at my grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner and holidays. I was always drawn into the kitchen and would watch and help my grandmother.
How would you define your cooking style? Eclectic. Especially for weddings. We get many requests for anything from English, French, and Russian dishes to New Orleans- and Asian-influenced food.
What dish do you enjoy preparing the most? The dish I enjoy preparing the most is the dish I haven’t done yet, in an effort to always learn more, be inventive and creative, and most of all, have fun.
What is your favorite food-related memory? I would definitely say decorating my own wedding cake for my wife on our wedding day is pretty much a number one!
Are there any misconceptions among foodies that you’d like to clarify? It is not always as easy as it looks. There are a lot of shows that only show a small glimpse of what is going on, but there is much more to it than that, especially for the larger venues of 500 to 1,000 guests.
Chef Francis Derby, Prime
What drew you to a career in the kitchen? My first job when I was 14 was a dishwasher at Varney’s Restaurant in Brookhaven. After seeing service at a restaurant from that side, it’s all I really wanted to do from there on out.
How would you define your cooking style? I try to focus on seasonality and simplicity. I find that more and more lately I want to remove ingredients from a dish rather than add to a dish. I like letting the main ingredients speak for themselves.
What dish do you enjoy preparing the most? I’m a sucker for a properly made pâté or terrine. I love this process as it takes patience and time. It demands that you slow down for a moment even during the busiest of days, as you can’t rush this process.
What is your favorite food-related memory? Since I was a kid my family has spent summers at Davis Park on Fire Island. As kids we would go clamming all day and then my mother and aunts spent the rest of the night making baked clams, clams and linguine, grilled clams, etc. This is still pretty much my favorite way to spend summer days.
Chef Spiro Karachopan, Spiro’s Lounge
What drew you to a career in the kitchen? My passion for cooking started when I was a young boy, helping my mom cook for weddings in our village in Greece. It was from her that I inherited my love of feeding people.
How would you define your cooking style? My cooking style is very traditional. Running an American kitchen with a touch of Mediterranean at Spiro’s and seafood and Italian cuisine at Sea Basin with my son Dennis.
What dish do you enjoy preparing the most? My favorite dish to cook would be whole black sea bass. I can eat fish seven days a week. I would make that in the oven on a bed of potatoes, peppers, and onion with a touch of garlic, fresh oregano, and olive oil.
Are there any misconceptions among foodies that you’d like to clarify? Real foodies who drive to you to have a good meal and value your dish, I love cooking for them. Other foodies: Put your phone down and try to enjoy your meal — live the moment.
Taste the Greats, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, 2020 at Oheka Castle. Tickets are $100. Tickets can be purchased at TasteTheGreats.com