They may have debuted their first “popup” dining event on the North Shore but three chefs aim to make Sayville their home, and business operations center, and are kicking off that quest with their second unique dining experience tonight at the former Taste Haven location on Montauk Highway.
Doug Weiler, Kyle Fiasconaro and Dan Shannon are behind The Lost and Found Popup Restaurant, a culinary operation offering meals boasting innovative, healthy, Long Island grown and locally foraged ingredients.
The ‘lost and found’ reflects a few philosophies: Americans have lost their way when it comes to using natural available foods and a 'farm to table' approach, the need to create a more sustainable culinary methodology in dining and the discovery of how very simple ingredients can make for a very appetizing experience.
The three chefs say it’s also about re-discovering eating what’s seasonally fresh and locally grown, and not relying on frozen, canned or preserved food items. It’s also about food preparation approaches used decades ago and which are still used outside of the U.S. such as in Italy. Such as grating cured hen eggs.
“This way of cooking was lost and now we’ve found it again,” said Weiler; in explaining the operation's debut to Port Jefferson Patch a few weeks ago.
The ‘pop-up’ part is more straightforward. The dinner ‘pops up’ where the trio can locate a kitchen or even just a dining space as a stove or a freezer isn’t necessarily a requirement. It can be held at a local restaurant that may be closed for one night, or a local bar that doesn’t do a lunch offering or even an empty storefront such as tonight’s event.
And pop-up obviously brings the element of spontaneity, something that seems to be quite okay with the three chefs who met while working at a local restaurant. While they didn’t create the ‘popup’ dining idea, as it’s been around in Europe and New York City, they are putting their own touch on the concept.
While all three are chefs, Fiasconaro, 26, is a professional food forager and obviously enjoys the continual hunt and discovery of new foods and spice ingredients available at Long Island farms, open fields and even the Long Island Pine Barrens.
The dinner menu is driven by what Fiasconaro finds on his foraging trips, and what’s fresh on farms and farmers market tables. A favorite spot to hit is the Brookhaven Hamlet Organic Garden, said Fiasconaro.
That approach brings a big element of surprise for popup diners. No one attending knows the menu or even chooses from a menu. The only hint diners get about the meal's salad, entrée and vegetable are a list of ingredients presented on a small place card.
For example, tonight's placecard list of ingredients includes green tomatoes, cornbread, barley, cracklins, oyster, ground cherry and celtuce. Braised conk was simmering on the stove the night prior and brisket was seen.
The accompanying drink is always local. During the Port Jeff-based pop-up dinner held earlier in July beer from the Port Jefferson Brewing Company was on tap.
Tonight first it's ice tea made from bayberry leaves and for those opting to pay a bit more there'll be wine from Sayville's own Down the Rabbit Hole wine shop on Main Street.
Tonight’s popup event, which sold out days ago, costs $45 for the food and $15 extra for beer or wine. There are two seatings of 25 people , one at 6:30 p.m. and another at 8:30 p.m.
The new venture’s focus, though, isn’t just about providing a unique food experience. It’s about providing a unique dining experience as it's family style seating, and diners often don’t know the person next to them or across from them.
The ability to meet new people, share the dining experience is also something that has gotten lost in modern day restaurants, the three chefs explain.
"We've lost the sense of sharing a meal, so this brings that back," Weiler told Sayville-Bayport Patch.
Right now there is no set future ‘popup’ event but that could change as of tomorrow, say the trio, as it’s all about finding a location and then crafting a new menu.
To keep track, check out the Lost and Found Popup Restaurant on Facebook or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.