— By Barbara Ann Branca, New York Sea Grant Communications Manager
All photos by Barbara A. Branca, NYSG
Yaphank, NY, November 14, 2014 - On a warm Friday morning in August, people starting streaming into the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank to “Celebrate Grown on Long Island Day.” Among them were two of the North Fork’s well-known chefs about to kick off New York Sea Grant’s Third Annual Seafood Throwdown, a fun and exciting competition that features fresh local seafood and produce.
Chefs Kyle Romeo of Jedediah Hawkins Inn (S. Jamesport) and Steven Amaral [seen above shopping for veggies] of North Fork Chocolate Company (Calverton) and Black Tie Caterers (Wading River) were setting up to go “saucepan to saucepan Iron Chef-style, “as described by Eileen M. Duffy, Edible East End editor and one of the seafood throwdown judges.
Chef Amaral buying fresh scallops.
Chef Amaral (at right) and his assistant; (inset photo) Chef Romeo fileting.
The chefs were tasked with creating their dishes using ‘red hot and blue’ mystery ingredients: sparkling fresh local bluefish and a variety of heirloom tomatoes. Once again, Phil Karlin of PE & DD Seafood’s Little Fish Shop in Riverhead donated the freshest seafood. Cornell Cooperative’s agriculture expert Sandy R. Menasha explained to the growing audience the variety of the summer’s bounty of tomatoes. Patrick Iacono, Assistant Facilities Program Coordinator of the Calverton Business Incubator was on hand to let people know about how the Incubator has helped local businesses grow and thrive—including that of Chef Amaral.
After accepting the challenge, Chef Steven Amaral said, “The farm to table movement has revived many small town farming communities across the USA and has profoundly resonated right here on the East End of Long Island.”
Chef Kyle Romeo is also a big supporter of the farm to table movement. He and his sous chef (and fiancée) Amanda Falcone have been developing their own farming endeavor and now have a variety of crops. Kyle says, “I am thankful for the amazing and influential community of chefs and farmers on Long Island. There is no better place for a blossoming career.”
Once their mystery ingredients were revealed, the chefs had a little time (and cash) for a mad dash to the onsite farmers market to buy other grown on Long Island ingredients to round out the dishes. Then they presented them to the judges who, besides Ms. Duffy included Prof. Richard Freilich of SCCC Culinary Arts and Hotel Resort and Robin Lee Simmen, CCE Community Horticulture Specialist.
The final dishes were judged on taste, use of mandatory ingredients, presentation and originality.
And the results? It was a close one, with Chef Romeo inching ahead of Chef Amaral with his tomato and bluefish salad crostini appetizer and his delicately pan fried bluefish over local blue potatoes.
New York Sea Grant's fisheries specialist, Antoinette Clemetson, said, “The seafood throwdown was adopted from similar events being conducted by the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) in New England fishing communities. It’s another way that Sea Grant can bring attention to the benefit of supporting local seafood and the farm to table movement.”
New York Sea Grant's fisheries specialist, Antoinette Clemetson, was the chef contest's time keeper.
Slicing up some heirloom tomatoes.
From into the frying pan to being plated, Chef Romeo's Blue (bluefish) on blue bruschetta.
Chef Romeo's appetizers.
Romeo's final plate, with okra
Chef Steve Amaral's olive oil poached bluefish and Scallop ceviche.
Photographers documenting the event.
Judges taste testing the dishes.
New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University
and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based
programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP
engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting
scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed
to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our
aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated
services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental
sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great
Lakes resources since 1971.
For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/coastlines for NY Coastlines, its flagship publication, which merged with our e-newsletter, Currents, in 2014 - is published several times a year.