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Each year Edible Communities, the family of local food magazines, of which Edible East End is a member, gives its readers an opportunity to acknowledge and recognize the dedication and work of our local heroes: the farmers, chefs, merchants, food artisans and nonprofit organizations that feed us.
Edible readers vote for their own heroes in five categories: chef/restaurant, food shop, farm/farmers, food/beverage artisan and nonprofit.
We have put our heads together and have come up with the following nominations. Now it is your turn to vote for Local Heroes 2014 at the bottom of the page. Voting ends of March 1 and winners will be announced Sunday, March 2 during the Oscars.
Joe Realmuto of Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton has always been a good guy. He’s on the front lines of teaching kids how to garden and cook, and last year he donated a kidney to his wife.
Newcomer Taylor Knapp of First and South in Greenport is a risk taker. This summer he cooked a dinner using only foraged and extremely local food and tried to kickstart an escargot farm (stay tuned!). He also came up with the year’s most memorable walk around tasting offering: oysters on the half shell where the shell was an edible cracker.
Chef Gerry Hayden had a storied cooking career before he even set foot in Southold to open the North Fork Table and Inn with his wife and another couple. And his story keeps going, just as he does, going to work everyday, teaching cooking classes and advocating for ALS, from which he’s been suffering since 2011.
Harvest and East by Northeast. These Montauk institutions have chugging along filling seats for years without any of the hype some of the newer places in newer Montauk have been getting. For a solid family-style dinner with local ingredients, it’s hard to do better.
Jason Weiner of Almond is another hard worker who’s been quietly gathering fans of his local, fresh simple food while creating an empire. He and his partner Eric Lemonides opened L&W Oyster Bar, their third restaurant in late 2012.
Wading River farmer John Condzella got on the hops wagon just as soon as you could hoist a stein. He also ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to buy a Wolf WHE 140 Hopfen Pflückmaschine hop harvester for any farmers to use. He exceeded his goal of $27,000, and now local hops are more available to local brewers, many of them home brewers.
Holly and Chris Browder are having a banner year. First they were able to buy their own farm through the Peconic Land Trust, then they got the island’s first mobile processing unit, and Holly has been essential in the establishment of the East End’s two new farmers markets in Bridgehampton and Riverhead.
Karen Rivara has been working with and farming oysters in Southold long before we heard the words Widow’s Hole. The year she became the first woman president of the Long Island Farm Bureau.
8 Hands Farm. Who could not be charmed by this family, which has given over their lives to raising Icelandic sheep in Cutchogue and working toward becoming self-sufficient with windmills and a large garden. We all should be raised that way.
Scott Chaskey is the father of community supported agriculture on the East End. His tenure as the director of Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett is legendary, and he was saving seeds before you were born.
Fork & Anchor. Newcomers Erin Fitzpatrick and Lucy Muellner are doing what you probably wish you had thought of in your early 30s, running a general store featuring local produce. Living the dream.
Seafood Shop in Wainscott is one of the East End’s venerable fish establishments. They work closely with all the baymen and have served more chowder than you can shake a clam shell at.
While Empire State Cellars is technically a wine shop, but it only features New York wine, spirits, beer and some local foodstuffs. The store broke new ground by taking on a space at Tanger Outlets and has exposed shoppers from all over the world to the good things going on in the New York food world.
Just next door to the Seafood Shop, Breadzilla has been a staple for eaters who like their bread fresh and their lunches ingenious and fresher.
It’s time to honor Provisions in Sag Harbor. We know you’ve all shopped their for healthy staples and premiere prepared foods. The store’s been around for more than 30 years.
Jeri Woodhouse has been turning out jarred goods made from local ingredients for more than a decade. Her commercial kitchen in Cutchogue is a hotbed of innovation where entrepreneurs can make their foodie dreams come true. And this year she introduced cHarissa, a sauce so good you’ll be eating with a spoon right out of the jar.
Montauk Brewing Company. Nothing makes us happier than when young locals take up the banner and march in the parade of East End artisans. The boys at this new brewery have shown dedication and resolve along with their brewing skills.
Amagansett Sea Salt has taken one thing we know we will never run out of and turned it into a gourmet condiment demanded by New York’s top chefs. Plus it’s nice to picture a man in waders bringing in seawater by the bucketful.
You could call it a farm, but Long Island Mushroom produces one product and does it very well. Their operation in Cutchogue has only made eating local easier for restaurants and home cooks alike.
Good Water Farms also produces one thing: organic microgreens grown in soil enriched with worm casings and seaweed. The small operation turns out impeccable and impeccably fresh and nutritious sprouts.
The Long Island Farm Bureau has had the best interest of our farmers in mind since 1919., prodding politicians and drafting legislation to help farmers earn a living They lobby congress so we don’t have to.
Slow Food East End. This chapter of the national Slow Food organization has hit the ground running since it started in October 2003. Their greatest achievement, besides bringing together like-minded eaters has been the incredibly successful development of more than 20 school gardens on the East End. It also boosted Edible School Garden, which is on its way to becoming its own nonprofit.
Newcomer All for the East End took the usual nonprofit idea and turned it on its head. How about a nonprofit serving nonprofits that focus on maintaining our environment and supporting food growers? The community has said “yes”.
Long Island Wine Council keeps tabs on the marketing, growth and political viability of Long Island Wine Country. This year is took part in the TasteNorthFork event that connected foodie destinations with free shuttle buses.
Peconic Land Trust is the big daddy of land preservation nonprofits, if not only on Long Island, maybe on the East Coast. Their dedication to working with the towns and the town’s community preservations funds has keep many acres of farmland from sprouting McMansion. This year they are doubling efforts to see that preserved farmland remains in food production.
Please, just vote once!