Food for Thought: Ballpark Classics “Rethunk”


Tate Morris, left, and Jonathan Contes of Mosaic.

No one relishes a tough challenge like chef Jonathan Contes of Mosaic in St. James. Every day, he and co-owner chef Tate Morris set their own five-course seasonal challenges, offering only chef’s tastings in a multi-course medley that encompasses flavors from around the world and ingredients that are 80 percent locally sourced. And every day, they make dinner a delightful surprise for diners who enjoy mad invention, incredible creativity and the excitement of the unexpected.

On July 1, this dynamic duo is making their criteria even tighter for a unique summer theme inspired by a couple that frequents the restaurant. On that day, mad genius Contes is serving a five-course meal designed around classic American ballpark comfort food … “rethunk.”

“We were inspired by Stu and Ginger Polisner,” he chuckled when asked where this idea came from. With his characteristic enthusiasm, he raved, “They’re one of our nicest, most laid-back, and all-around great customers!

“They come in quite frequently and just love Americana, which I found out when they hosted a private event at the restaurant. He said to me, ‘If you could basically do a play on a hot dog, we would love that.’”

That was all it took to get this challenge accepted; the papaya sauerkraut hot dog (recipe below) he served was the hit of the night.

“I rarely ever do repeat dishes,” Contes says, “but they’re definitely in for this event and have specially requested this dish.”

However, that’s the only thing that’s for certain. Due to his strict adherence to keeping sourcing fresh, local, and extremely seasonal, the twists may even surprise himself!

He admits, “I don’t know 100,000 percent yet what Tate and I will be making,” but did share some teasers on ideas he’s still working on. Diners can expect pickles, but they may not be cucumber. There will be a slider of some sort … but it might not be beef. There will likely be a cheesesteak, but it’ll be elevated with filet mignon. Rustic, kitschy plastic cups will hold suds not normally found at Mosaic, like Pabst Blue Ribbons and Miller Lites for just $2. As for dessert? Will it be a pie? Cookies? Coyly he responded, “Expect anything.”

… But then again, that’s the modus operandi for this daringly innovative little St. James gem. And no matter what curveball they’re pitching, one thing we can always be sure of here is that every inning will have you at the edge of your seat, cheering.

Reservations available now for the American Ballpark Favorites … Rethunk dinner set for Friday, July 1.

hot dog mosaic restaurant

The greatest papaya hot dog. • Photo by Jonathan Contes

Greatest Papaya Dogs
Recipe courtesy of Chef Jonathan Contes, Mosaic

The Dogs:
8 beautiful butcher-bought red hots of your liking
8 Martin’s potato rolls, toasted
Shaved Emmentaler cheese to taste (optional)
Nasturtium, watercress, or baby arugula for garnish (optional)

The ‘Kraut:
2 pounds rinsed and strained sauerkraut … from your local butcher
2 cups diced firm papaya
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup decent beer (drink the rest – chef’s orders!)
¼ cup of dry white wine (same as above!)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon roughly chopped juniper berry
1 teaspoon whole caraway
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ sweet onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon Gulden’s mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

The Mustard:
½ cup frozen lingonberries or lingonberry jam
1 cup Gulden’s spicy mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Prepare the sauerkraut. Sweat the onion and garlic for five minutes, then add everything else, cooking at medium heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a serving bowl. (Will last 7 days in an airtight container and chilled.)

Prepare the mustard. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. (Will hold for up to 6 whole weeks in an airtight container … if you don’t eat it all!)

Grill the hot sausages over flame or, preferably, cook them in a cast-iron pan. Toast the potato rolls to your liking. Top with mustard and sauerkraut, and garnish with shaved Emmentaler cheese and greens, then serve with your favorite chips! We at Edible recommend keeping it local with North Fork Potato Chips.