How are Long Island Chefs Doing with their New Year’s Resolutions? We Decided to Check in with Them and Ask

long island chefs

Photo by Eric Striffler

January ‘twas the season for resolutions. Diet and exercise are always popular ones (32.4 percent of Americans made weight related resolutions for 2017). But now that the calendar has shifted to March, ‘tis the season to break them. There’s no shame in falling off the gravy train, especially in these parts. First, because swimsuit season is about four months away. And second, Long Island chefs plan on serving food that’s worth making every day a cheat day—at least until May. Five kitchen maestros shared their direction for 2018.

Chef Mike Maneri
Verace, Islip

“This year, I want to focus on using locally grown ingredients. One of Verace’s main missions is to reduce our impact on the environment—buying local ingredients means the food doesn’t travel long distances, and promoting better air quality and reducing pollution. Cooking with local ingredients also makes seasonality a big factor, allowing me to experiment with different ingredients that are available at different times throughout the year.”

Chef Joe Realmuto
Nick & Toni’s, East Hampton

“My New Year’s resolution is to take some more time for myself and my family. Over the last few years [I’ve found] my work and all life’s little things taking away from my time. I do not regret it in the least—it is what has made me what I am today and I feel great about all the things I have accomplished professionally and as a person. But I have noticed it has taken away from some of the things I used to really enjoy: cooking at home with family and friends, fishing, hunting and just good old quality ‘me’ time and not always thinking about what I need to do next. It has just recently hit me with some close tragedies, that we only get one shot at life.”

Chef Ryan Keough
Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas, Garden City

“On January 1st, everyone is so hopeful for a better New Year. This year’s resolution is all about establishing new habits, a culinary interpretation of cleaning out the closet. [I want to] try new and different methods to approach menu building with our teams. [We hope to] start new trends and incorporate them into dishes ranging from brunch to dessert. 2018 is a great start to turn aside something that can be unexciting or kind of boring. It’s a new beginning to create, develop and organize your originality.”

Chef Spiro Karachopan
Spiro’s Lounge & Restaurant, Rocky Point

“In 2018 my goal is to continue to take advantage of what our beautiful island has to offer. [I’ll] be focusing on farm-to-table produce and locally harvested fish, clams and mussels. This year, we started offering Spiro’s Sunday Wine & Dine Specials, which we offer a complete dinner for two. Guests can bring their own wine with no corking fee or get [one on our menu for] half off. It was a great success and we will offer it in 2018. And of course, our famous Happy Hour, seven days a week and twice a day, will offer even more. Guests can look forward to more healthy Mediterranean inspired cuisine. It’s my greatest desire as a chef to share the soul-nourishing recipes of my heritage.”

Chef Bobby Bouyer
The Chopping Block (Formerly Storyville American Table, Huntington)

“I’ve made way too many New Year’s resolutions over the years. [I’ve grown] a few more grey hairs recently [and] learned simple and sweet is best to really get it done. This year I want to focus on inspiring the new cooks and aspiring chefs in our industry to develop their palates and artistic natures. [I want to emphasize] really loving what [they] do and be[ing] proud of each dish. The best dishes I’ve ever made came with a smile and I usually got a smile back from the guest.”

Chef Michael Rozzi
The 1770 House, East Hampton

“My biggest goal for the next year is to give even more respect to my ingredients. After years of exposure to fine foods, we as chefs can sometimes forget not everyone gets to work with and eat the special foods we are surrounded by every day. [Examples include] the process of artisan food production or the rarity of certain foods such as Peconic Bay scallops. With the access we have to food today, we can go to the local market and purchase truffles, a handmade cheese and an incredible bottle of wine in an hour. Twenty years ago it wasn’t that easy. In some parts of the world, it still isn’t even possible. As a chef and on Long Island, it is important to treat even the simplest ingredients with the greatest respect, to limit their waste and remember how lucky I am to be working with them.”