Because an ever-growing percentage of diners want their food grown, raised and caught nearby, you’re likely to find “We source our ingredients locally” on the menu when you sit down to eat. “The majority of the time, this is either a lie or a tremendous exaggeration,” says Doug Weiler (above, left), one the chefs behind Lost and Found, a pop-up restaurant project based in Sayville.
Weiler and his partners, Kyle Fiasconaro (above, right) and Dan Shannon, have worked in some of the top kitchens in the region; places like Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, North Fork Table, Mirabelle and Luce & Hawkins. Fiasconaro is a professional forager, sourcing ingredients for Manhattan restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, David Chang’s Momofuku empire and Café Boulud.
By foraging for greens, berries, fruits and other native edibles—and combining it with other locally raised produce and proteins (most of it raised by friends of theirs)—the trio is also out to define what “Long Island cuisine” really is.
“Many people have been asking us about the type of food that we like to cook. When we tell them that we cook Long Island food, they usually ask ‘What’s that?’ ” says Weiler. “It’s a shame that Long Island doesn’t have a recognizable cuisine.”
I attended the trio’s first dinner at Toast Coffee House in Port Jefferson. The multicourse meal featured dozens of wild ingredients—everything from daylily buds, Indian cucumbers served raw and chicken mushrooms to bayberry-infused tea served with a branch for garnish, fried celtuce spears and a salad entirely made from foraged ingredients—save the local goat’s milk yogurt dressing. Nothing is wasted. Charred ramp bulbs were served next to smoked local bluefish—but the ramp roots were fried tempura-style and served as an appetizer. Call it root-to-blossom cooking.
Lost and Found has hosted three similar-but-very-different events and hopes to eventually host them twice a month. Perhaps paradoxically, the somewhat anti-establishment chefs are also looking for a place to open a small restaurant. “We want it to be unlike anything else that people can experience anywhere on the Island,” says Weiler. “The focus will always be on the food and the experience of sharing it with friends—in an atmosphere that is not tied to the pretentiousness of fine dining.”
They aren’t on Twitter like many other pop-ups, so “like” Lost and Found on Facebook to get pop-up announcements: facebook.com/LostAndFoundPopup.