The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Pedigree

Written By: Leeann Lavin

It’s no coincidence – though perhaps it can be considered a culinary manifest destiny – that the East End of Long Island has long been affectionately known as the “Twin Forks.”  Today, the North and South Forks’ twin tines can readily dish up the island’s unparelleled farm-to-plate/ garden-to-glass/dish-to-dock (you get the idea) Homegrown experience.  


Long Island is the longest and largest island in the contiguous United States, extending nearly 120 miles from the New York Harbor to Montauk Point; brimming with farms, bays, and beaches. It is also a place that exists in the dreams and imaginations of our collective consciousness.  

  1. Scott Fitzgerald captured its aura-as-character in the Great Gatsby while living on the Island’s Gold Coast where he wrote of “that slender riotous island.”  Maybe the East End’s geographic distance is part of its karma-like dream world that makes it so removed from other, more banal locations…

The East End has also long been renowned for its affluence, ranked alongside the top wealthiest counties in the country. Old money has been a discrete presence here since revolutionary times.  Gilded Age mansions line the North Shore.  Architectural Digest cover shots pay homage to Hollywood East on the South and North Forks. Wall Street financiers have canoodled with great artists, such as Jackson Pollack, Walt Whitman, William De Kooning, and Steven Spielberg. Other famous residents include Martha Stewart, Donna Karan, Billy Joel, and Alec Baldwin. Weekenders from Manhattan (“the City”) seek solace and rejuvenation at their Long Island country houses.

The undeniable source of that inspiration has always been Long Island’s unique natural beauty and the bounty of the land.  

Before the island became the wealthy vacation mecca and world-class aspirational lifestyle it is now, the native Shinnecock Indian tribe hunted, fished, and farmed on Long Island and taught the first European settlers how to do so—growing beans, using fish for fertilizer, and foraging for wild plants. Farming became the island’s first industry. Today, potato fields may have given way to vineyards, and dairy farms may have replaced duck and hunting fields, but the island is still recognized as the most productive farming area in New York State.

The island’s East End tableau and its agricultural bounty have inspired a cadre of local culinary artists, growers, and artisanal food makers. They have studied and cooked in renowned  four-star restaurants across the Island, from the Gold Coast to Hampton Bays, and all over the world.   Regardless of whether the chef recloated to discover the charms of the island, or left briefly to pursue the siren song of culinary education elsewhere, or couldn’t ever bear to leave, all feel the yearning for their terroir: Long Island East End.  These extraordinary culinary artists shop their farmers markets and empower their local farmers and growers and work assiduously to support the Peconic Land Trust to protect the heart-clutching beauty and unique natural landscapes gifted to us.  We’re all stewards.  

The culinary artists grow food in their own kitchen gardens and are showing their restaurant guests—and the world—the fresh food adventures that can be found right in our own back yard. There is a passionate quest to forge networks dedicated to teaching children to garden and cook, fundraising to protect the land for sustainable agricultural stewardship, organizing festivals to celebrate the artisans, farmers, and the harvest. It’s the sweet spot of living close to the land and loving every delicious minute of it.  

The Shinnecock name Long Island, means “land of tribute” in native Paumanok – and with their cooking and their dedication to local foods, the chefs featured in the The Hamptons and Long Island Homegrown Cookbook return the land’s tribute in kind.

In the same way, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook pays tribute to the remarkable farms, gardens, and waterways that are Long Island. It also honors those chefs who are bringing Long Island’s unique terroir to plates and palates and, in the process, helping the islands’ food growers and producers preserve their way of life, while providing jobs, and an edible culinary destination renowned the world over. The tenacity of the local chefs and their authentic “food network” are the leaders of the fresh-from-the-garden food movement.  Through their ardent beliefs and fidelity to their extraordinaryly good, farm-forward menus and commitment to their craft and local food sources, they have changed Long Island’s cuisine with great elan.