Award season is just another thing to love about winter. Hollywood has its Golden Globes and Oscars, Broadway has its Tonys, the small screen has its Emmys, the music industry has its Grammys and Edible Long Island has its Local Heroes Awards. Our Local Heroes Awards celebrate the people who nourish and feed us: the farmers, fishers, brewers, vintners, artisanal producers and movers and shakers. These people, places and organizations are the bedrock of our local food movement and our raison d’etre. Without them, what stories would we tell?
This year we have four nominees in five categories; Chef/Restaurant, Farm/Farmers, Food Shop/Market, Food/Beverage Artisan and Nonprofit/Advocate. All of our readers are members of our voting academy. All we ask is that you read over our nominees, vote once (last year we experienced a bit of ballot stuffing by some passionate voters — sorry, a new voting system will now prevent that) and spread the word. Voting begins now and will run through February 18. On February 22 we will roll out a virtual red carpet and announce the winners. Acceptance speeches can be made in our comments section or on our social media pages!
- In our fall issue, we went In the Kitchen With Chef Alex Lee. This highly acclaimed chef has worked in kitchens from Monte Carlo to Marrakech to Manhattan and has now found his sweet spot in the kitchen and gardens of the Glen Oaks Country Club in Old Westbury.
- Chef Marc Bynum might have made a name for himself on the small screen as a two-time champion on the Food Network’s Chopped, but he is now turning heads and teasing palates at his first brick and mortar restaurant, Hush Bistro, in his hometown of Farmingdale.
- When searching for a chef for their soon-to-be-opened restaurant, J.A. Heneghan’s Tavern in Point Lookout, the Heneghan family made a brilliant and bold move when they hired Nicole Roarke. Roarke has transformed traditional pub food and made it downright fresh and sexy.
- Forget about any notions you ever had when it comes to university cafeterias. The Simons Center Cafe at Stony Brook University is reinventing institutional cuisine. Chef Paolo Fontana is wowing both students and the hungry public with his breakfasts and lunches.
- Benner’s Farm is a charming 15-acre family owned farm in East Setauket. From a summer camp program that is jam-packed with activities to a maple syruping weekend in late February, there is always something going on down on Benner’s Farm.
- Bren Smith is a farmer who doesn’t farm on terra firma; he farms under the Long Island Sound. Smith is a kelp farmer and the brainchild behind Thimble Island Oyster Company, a three-dimensional ocean farm that not only produces nutrient-rich kelp, but helps restore ecological balance in the Sound.
- Orkestai Farm is a nonprofit one-acre organic farm located within Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. A working farm and CSA, Orkestai Farm is a lively farming and arts environment for individuals of all abilities. In its inaugural year, Orkestai Farm taught the valuable lessons of farming to 15 neurodiverse and disabled students.
- Founded in 2007 by husband and wife team Daniel Holmes and Caroline Fanning, Restoration Farm is a seven-acre farm and CSA located within the grounds of Nassau County’s Old Bethpage Village Restoration. Restoration Farm is more than a farm; it is an active community with an education program, a live music concert series and Sunday yoga.
- Kerber’s Farm is a little slice of heaven in Huntington. Two years ago owner Nick Voulgaris bought the former poultry farm and tastefully restored the shop, farm stand and outbuildings. The once shuttered shop now boasts sinfully delicious baked goods, to-die-for egg sandwiches and weekend lines running out the front door.
- A Taste of Long Island is a brick and mortar shop in Farmingdale Village. What sets it apart from other shops is that its shelves are stocked with small-batch baked goods, eggs, produce and artisanal products that are grown and produced right here on Long Island.
- G & G Long Island Farmers Markets runs summertime outdoor farmers markets in Babylon and New Hyde Park. Organized by two sisters, they really shine in the winter with two indoor markets: Saturdays in Massapequa and a very popular one on Sundays in Huntington Station. More than a farmers market, their winter markets bring locals out of hibernation for fresh baked goodies, produce and a heart-warming sense of community.
- Rustic Roots Delivery is a home delivery service that brings organic, locally sourced produce, eggs, cheese, milk, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, meats, seafood and more directly to your front door. Founded by Jeff and Emer Moore in 2011, Rustic Roots shares recipes to encourage customers to try new items on the ever-growing product list.
- Sweet and Sara is the heart, soul and life work of its founder, Sara Sohn. A committed vegan, Sara spent years perfecting a recipe for a 100 percent vegan marshmallow. All the trials and tribulations paid off; her delectable vegan marshmallows satisfy and delight the palates of vegans and non-vegans alike.
- Packaged in charming little multi-use terra cotta pots, Kalypso Greek Yogurt was created by first-generation Greek-American Nikolas Trastelis. Trastelis was on a quest to perfect the Greek yogurt that he remembered his great-grandfather making and, after years of recipe experimentation – eureka, Kalypso Greek Yogurt.
- Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookies are deliciously sweet cookies that you not only can eat for breakfast, but should eat for breakfast. The creation of Lisa Harris, these cookies have developed an almost cult-like following and are available at select retail locations and through Harris’ website.
- Oyster Bay Brewing Company is a small craft brewery in the village of Oyster Bay. The owners, Gabe Haim and Ryan Schlotter, are both huge fans of our beloved New York Islanders. To commemorate the Islanders last season played in the Nassau Coliseum (“the old barn”), they brewed a special ale, Barn Rocker, which is only available at the Coliseum and their brewery. Score!
- Sustainable Long Island’s mission is to advance economic development, environmental health and social equity for all Long Islanders. At their annual Sustainability Conference community activists, government officials, planners, builders and business leaders put their collective heads together with the goal of actualizing a more sustainable Long Island.
- The Safina Center at Stony Brook University (formerly Blue Ocean Institute) was founded in 2003 by conservation pioneer Dr. Carl Safina. On the campus of Stony Brook University, Safina and his staff of scientists, writers and conservationists champion our shared oceans and sustainable seafood practices.
- Taste NY is one Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiatives to promote New York grown, harvested, brewed and produced foods. Through this initiative chefs are being encouraged to sign the Pride of New York Pledge committing to increase by 10 percent the amount of New York State grown or made products, ingredients, beers, wines, spirits and ciders on their menus.
- Look no further than Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre for the latest thought-provoking films including their series, “Let’s Eat! Food on Film.” The theater also boasts their Sky Room Cafe, serving all-natural foods and the only organic popcorn served in a movie venue.