Out of the hundreds of parties benefiting excellent causes on the East End in summer, none is closer to my heart than the Hayground Chefs Dinner in Bridgehampton. Five-star chefs gather each year to honor the memory of beloved Nick & Toni’s founder Jeff Salaway and raise money for much-needed financial aid for Hayground School, the first school on the East End to incorporate an edible garden and kitchen science program into its curriculum. My kids attend Hayground, so I know a little bit about the school and what goes into this fantastically fun event. This year, on July 26, the dinner will honor slow food pioneer Jonathan Waxman. Creating something mouthwatering in Jeff’s Kitchen will be Bobby Flay, and I can’t wait to see him work his grill magic alongside other culinary luminaries like Claudia Fleming, Jason Weiner, Christian Mir, Marc Meyer, Joe Realmuto, Josh Capon, Marc Murphy and Aarón Sánchez.
Flay was one of the first Chefs Dinner chefs, more than 10 years ago. “Jeff Salaway was a great friend of mine,” he told me, about the Hayground School co-founder. “We grew up in business together and both got our career starts with Jonathan Waxman.” That makes this year’s dinner all the more special for Flay, since Waxman will be honored by Toni Ross (Salaway’s widow and owner of Nick & Toni’s). As one of the leading pioneers in bringing the fresh produce-driven cuisine movement to New York City, Waxman’s groundbreaking restaurant Jam’s gave many chefs their start including Flay, Fleming and Gail Arnold.
Flay is no stranger to a good cause; he is involved with Citymeals on Wheels. “I look to contribute to hunger-related charities whenever possible,” he said. Flay will be making the first course for the Chefs Dinner, a dish inspired by his newest restaurant, Gato. But what Flay is most looking forward to at this year’s event? “Hanging out with the other chefs!”
The Hayground Chefs Dinner is Sunday, July 26, in Jeff’s Kitchen at Hayground School, Bridgehampton. Visit www.haygroundchefsdinner.org for tickets; they are $1,000.
Hayground is a diverse, mixed-aged school in Bridgehampton for children ages 3-14. More than 70 percent of the students receive financial aid. It was founded on the conviction that all children can and should live a life of the mind, that social and environmental responsibility are fundamental educational initiatives, that art be at the center rather than the periphery of life, and that food, the cultivation and preparation of it, is one of the best educational tools at our disposal.