Innovation is obvious in the city. There, everywhere you look—whether on the Edible Manhattan or Edible Brooklyn websites, or around the streets and kitchens that pepper those same boroughs—there are apps and automations and all sorts of smart gizmos and gadgets that people use to prepare, enjoy and eventually repurpose food.
But what does innovation look like on Long Island?
This was the question Lindsay Morris, our extraordinary photo editor, and I kept returning to as we began to imagine this issue. Because when it comes to food innovation in Nassau and Suffolk county, there’s not an app for that—at least not yet. Instead, we have here an abundance of excellent farms, restaurants, breweries, wineries and distilleries that are allergic to fads; people and places that have kept our region and its culinary landscape crescendoing in importance and flavor for decades, with no end in sight for our beautiful and bellowing sound.
Innovation, here, is simple; it is a promise to stay constantly curious and a desire to continue, just as constantly, to do things with reverence and integrity—and to always do them well.
The stories collected in this issue will introduce you to the people and places who have informed our understanding of innovation on Long Island, the people and places who are shaping the future of food and drink not only in our region, but far beyond it. In Greenport, you will meet Leslie Merinoff, who along with her team has brought a boutique and completely bespoke distillery to the East End, demystifying and democratizing the world of spirits in the process. In Huntington, you will sit before Mike Wittenberg, who has ushered in a Long Island Iced Tea renaissance from behind the bar at Rust & Gold, carrying our region’s most infamous cocktail toward a better-tasting and brighter (though still beautifully boozy) future. In East Hampton, you will walk beside Bonnie Munshin, Julie Berger, and Kirsten Benfield, three women who are among the most critical characters in Nick & Toni’s now 30-year history, contributing to its legacy of excellence with every passing turn. In Cold Spring Harbor, you will peer over Dr. Hannes Claeys’s lab-coat-covered shoulder, as he studies corn at the town’s renowned laboratory; and in Southold, you will stand, mesmerized, inside Claudia Fleming’s kitchen, as she invents her next dessert.
This is what innovation on Long Island looks like. Join us at Food Loves Tech this November for an even closer look, when our region will stand like the portrait that closes this issue, of East End farmer, poet and pioneer of the community farming movement, Scott Chaskey: proud, open and ready to claim our seat at the table—the one we built atop our own rich soil, with our own two hands from scratch. No app will ever be able to replace that.
Wishing you warmth and wonder this season and always,