Food Lab Returns, This Time for Fall Harvest

“Eat global, cook local,”
Colin Ambrose of Estia’s Little Kitchen will be interviewed by Biddle Duke.

The Food Lab will return to Stony Brook Southampton on Friday, Sept. 14, much later in the year than its earlier iterations, which have been in June. Although the U.S. Open at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in June this year was a factor, the organizers realized that holding a conference about local food during harvest time and when the fish are running made much more sense, according to Andrew Botsford, a representative of the college.

The theme this year, “eat global, cook local,” seeks to underscore the diversity of the community and how it can be joined together at the table. “The conference captures that idea and the spirit of nourishing, diversity, and acceptance of all people in our special area,” Geoffrey Drummond, executive director of the Food Lab, said last Thursday. 

The conference will open officially on the evening of Friday, Sept. 14, at the windmill with Shane Weeks, a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, who will offer a blessing to the four directions and a traditional song as a cultural ambassador for the event. “Then sitting at the table will be people from all different parts of the area and the world,” Mr. Drummond added.

That afternoon, Nicholas Poulmentis, a champion chef on the Food Network’s “Chopped” series, will give an intimate cooking demonstration on updated Greek classics. There will be live cooking and samples of the dishes created, including goat cheese gnocchi, spinach pie, vegetarian meatballs, and more. Chrisa Arcan, an assistant professor of nutrition at Stony Brook, will discuss the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet. The demonstration costs $50 and is likely to sell out, so preregistration is recommended.

Mr. Poulmentis will also participate in the panel “Nourishing Diversity: Our Social, Emotional, and Spiritual Relationships With Food.” The panel will bring together chefs along with Mohammad Modarres, the founder of Abe’s Meats, which processes meat that is both Kosher and Halal and is served at interfaith meals across the country. Josephine Smith, the director of cultural resources for the Shinnecock Indian Nation, will discuss foraging.

This year’s keynote speakers are Pati Jinich and Colin Ambrose, who will be in conversation with Biddle Duke. Ms. Jinich is the host of “Pati’s Mexican Table,” a PBS series. Mr. Ambrose is the chef and proprietor of Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor. Mr. Duke is the founding editor and a contributor to East magazine.

Panelists representing the global element of the conference include Sonya Kharas and Lisa Gross, the founders of League of Kitchens, who sponsor and teach recent immigrants how to give cooking demonstrations in their homes. Upcoming classes on their website offer looks at Argentinian, Nepali, Uzbek, and Lebanese cuisine. Florence Fabricant will moderate the panel, which also includes Kerry Brodie from Emma’s Torch. Her organization provides culinary training to refugees in its restaurant, preparing them for jobs in New York City kitchens, which are always in need of line cooks.

Participating in a panel titled “Diversity in the Bottle,” Maria Rivera Gonzales is from one of the original winemaking families in Mexico, according to Mr. Drummond. She is now the proprietor of Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead.

Fulfilling the conference’s theme and one of its subthemes of health and nutrition is Frank Lipman, a medical doctor from South Africa who practices in New York and has a house in East Hampton. He is an integrative medicine coach and the author of “The New Health Rules” and “How to Be Well.” He will be on a panel with Shawn Cannon, an osteopath who runs the residency program at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and Seamus Mullin, one of Dr. Lipman’s patients. Mr. Mullin, once debilitated by rheumatoid arthritis, has been asymptomatic for several years. He is an award-winning chef at Tertulia, known for his interpretations of Spanish cuisine. He is also the author of “Hero Food” and “Real Food Heals.”

No Food Lab would be complete without a panel discussing locally harvested food. The Star’s food editor, Laura Donnelly, will moderate “Local Food — Really??” It will feature some of the familiar faces of the local slow food community including Scott Chaskey, Katie Baldwin, Asa Gosman, Dee Muma, and Brian Halweil discussing how to know when food is really from the East End.

The conference will be framed by two receptions featuring regional food and wine and a closing reception with food from the League of Kitchens. Tickets are $150, $75 for farmers and students.

Shane Weeks of the Shinnecock Indian Nation will open Food Lab with a traditional blessing.
Pati Jinich, who has a Mexican-themed show on PBS, is a keynote speaker.