Story by Christopher J. Davies
Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport, a superbly restored sea captain's mansion that was put on the culinary map by Long Island Top Chef Tom Schaudel, has announced that it is "now hibernating in the winter" and will re-open in Spring 2010. Chef Schaudel parted from Jedediah's several years ago to launch other restaurants projects such as A Mano Osteria & Wine Bar in Mattituck. Several predecessors tried to steer the Inn's kitchen back to Schaudel's level of culinary greatness. It now appears that the Inn may again be headed for culinary prominence with their announcement that nationally revered, locally born James Beard awarded Chef Keith Luce will join as partner and chef beginning in April 2010.
Chef Luce has the best credentials and longest resume of any chef that has ever worked a stove on the North Fork having worked at the Rainbow Room, Le Cirque, La Cte Basque, The Greenbrier Resort, The White House as Sous Chef during President's Clinton reign, Little Nell in Aspen, PlumpJack winery group's restaurants in California and Merenda in San Francisco. His last gig was as Executive Chef at The HerbFarm in Woodinville, Washington, smack in a bustling wine country with more than 45 wineries, including Chateau Ste Michelle and located only 30 minutes from downtown Seattle. The HerbFarm is the gourmands bar-setter for fresh grown, farm supplied, seasonally unique restaurants. It's a Northwest foodie's hotspot where you can dine on 9-course wine paired celebrations.
After all of his traveling, it's exciting to learn that Chef Luce will return to his roots on the North Fork and unpack his knives to create culinary greatness in Long Island Wine Country.
I recently spoke with him while he was buttoning down things in Seattle, preparing to return to Long Island on New Years day. Chef Luce promises a regional and seasonally driven menu. He told me that he has definite plans to grow produce for his restaurant on his family's farm that is just 5 miles away from Jedediah's.
"The founding partners who lovingly restored the property have made it possible for me to partner with them and make this deal a reality. Never in my wildest dreams, when contemplating returning to my native North Fork, did I imagine a venue such as this could be a reality for my restaurant." Chef Keith Luce explained, adding, "this is important to me on so many levels. The biggest probably being that it is so close to my family's farm on Sound Avenue. I am committed and focused on making this a restaurant and inn that will do the Nofo and this beautifully restored property proud."
The dining room will be named Luce & Hawkins and will feature exciting farm-to-table fine dining options.
Chef Luce plans to offer full and half portions of his main dishes so that guests may have the option to create their own tasting menu. I took a peak at a sample menu and began salivating in anticipation! Here' are a few highlights:
-Miso Soup with steamed egg custard, local oyster and caviar
-Peconic Bay Scallops with buttery grapefruit sauce
-Pasteurized Chicken & Hudson Valley Foie Gras
-Today's Farmstead/Artisanal Cheese
Luce's Landing Wine Bar & Cafe menu is broken down into Nibble, Plates & Sweets categories. It looks delicious and should become a favorite noshing ground for any foodies who whisk into Jamesport.
For updates on the re-launch of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn visit:
I predict that Chef Luce's "landing" in Jamesport will be the North Fork's big culinary event of the decade. The addition of such a talented and energetic master chef based in the heart of Long Island's wine region, will mean as much as Thomas Keller does to Napa. Even to this day, when speaking about the Napa Valley, Margrit Mondavi speaks in historical terms (BTFL) explaining the days "before The French Laundry".
The local wineries may not grasp the benefits today, but Luce's locally focused cuisine is destined to make a seismic impact on Long Island's food and wine reputation.
Story 2009 by Christopher J. Davies, All rights reserved.