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Local is Always Better, Says Carpenter of New Gig at Page at 63 Main

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Well known East End chef James Carpenter will lead the kitchen at Page at 63 Main

Well known East End chef James Carpenter will lead the kitchen at Page at 63 Main.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Workers are still building a rooftop garden to grow fresh salad greens and vegetables and completing a back terrace serving area at Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor, and the restaurant’s new chef, James Carpenter, who arrived just two weeks ago after his most recent stint at East Hampton Point, is busy himself, pulling together a new menu in time for the coming summer season.

The restaurant, once known as Spinnakers and now co-owned by Gerry Wawryk and Joe Traina, is undergoing a rebirth to a more sustainable, and health-conscious approach under Mr. Carpenter’s discerning eye. “I’m making the menu to be a little more seafood driven,” said Mr. Carpenter, who also has a reputation as a practitioner of slow food cuisine with an emphasis on locally grown ingredients.  So it is out with “the goopy, deep fried dishes,” and in with the freshest of ingredients, like those that will be grown on the roof and are already sprouting from a series of “aquaponic” gardens set up in a back dining room.

Mr. Carpenter, who came to the East End to open Savannah’s restaurant in Southampton Village, in the 1990s and was the longtime chef at Della Femina in East Hampton, said he joined Page because he was intrigued by the owners’ plans to develop the aquaponic gardens, which are fed with water that passes through fish tanks to provide the growing greens with a ready source of organic fertilizer.

“You can go to King Kullen and pick up a bag of mesclun mix and it tastes like water,” Mr. Carpenter said. “But if you try our salads, you’ll say, ‘This is the most flavorful salad I’ve ever had.’”

Besides the restaurant grown greens, Mr. Carpenter said the bounty of eastern Long Island’s farm fields and waters makes it easy to focus on locally grown ingredients.

So diners can expect fresh tomatoes and sweet corn from Balsam Farms in Amagansett, mushrooms and vegetables from Dave Falkowski’s Opened Minded Organics in Bridgehampton, and other fresh produce from the Green Thumb in Water Mill and Satur Farms in Cutchogue, as well as cheeses from the Ludlows’ Mecox Bay Dairy in Water Mill and Howard Pickerell’s “Peconic Pride” oysters, which are raised in Noyac.

Diners can expect to see such items as Carta de Musica, which literally means music paper in Italian, but is an appetizer of provencale mussel salad, tuna tartare and house grown salad greens on crispy flatbread. Among the main courses will be Mushroom Bolognese, made with Mr. Falkowski’s mushrooms as well as homemade fettuccine, sofrito and Grana Padano parmesan cheese. While the menu will have basics like cheeseburgers and steaks, Mr. Carpenter said it will include items like Organic Quinoa Linguine, which meets the vegan standards of the East End Wellness Challenge.

Mr. Carpenter, who was raised in Carmel, New York, left home to enter the U.S. Navy after high school, where he was trained as a chef and was soon traveling the world over on board the U.S.S. Midway, the last of the fleet’s diesel powered aircraft carriers. “It offered a great opportunity to taste foods from so many different cultures,” Mr. Carpenter said of his navy days.

After leaving Savannah, Mr. Carpenter served  an eight-year stint at Della Femina and also brought his skills to the Living Room @ c/o the Maidstone, whose owners were from Stockholm and who wanted to focus solely on Swedish cuisine, an approach he did not want to take. He also worked for a couple of years at the American Hotel and most recently at Ben Krupinski’s Cittanuova, 1770 House and East Hampton Point.

At all his stops, he said he focuses on bringing as much locally grown food to the table as possible. “It’s always better if it’s grown 5 miles away,” he said.

Page at 63 Main is located at 63 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit page63main.com or call 725-1810. 

Aquaponic Farming, Rooftop Garden Proposed for Sag Harbor’s Page at 63 Main

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By Tessa Raebeck

Hoping to join the growing farm-to-table food movement on the East End, Page at 63 Main has proposed a greenhouse that would employ aquaponic farming and a rooftop garden to enable the restaurant to grow its vegetables on site.

Aquaponics is farming that combines hydroponics and aquaculture in a symbiotic environment. Through hydroponics, plants are cultivated in water and aquatic animals (in this case fish) are raised through aquaculture. Aquaponics allows the water from the aquaculture system — filled with nutrients from fish by-products — to be then fed into the hydroponic system to fuel the growing plants.

Attorney Dennis Downes represented Gerard Wawryk, one of the owners of the Main Street, Sag Harbor restaurant, at a Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting Tuesday.

The building currently has a footprint of 3,860 square feet, an area the project would not alter. The building’s front portion is two stories, the middle section has a one-story frame and masonry structure and the rear section has two stories. The restaurant occupies the building’s ground floor and the second floor houses a residential apartment.

Although the footprint would not be changed, the proposal would add 835 square feet of space to the existing second floor (which does not currently meet the full footprint) which would be added over the one story middle portion of the building and serve as a seeding area. A partial 481 square foot third floor over the rear potion of the building would serve as a greenhouse and the second story roof would house a garden.

“There is no change in parking or change in sewer,” Downes said Tuesday, adding that water in the tanks would not be going into the sewer as board members had previously wondered.

The plan was first introduced to the planning board in a work session November 26. At Tuesday’s meeting, Downes asked the board to adopt a resolution to send a 30-day letter for lead agency status and to allow the demolition of a gable roof.

Downes said renovations to the kitchen, which did not require approval, are underway and the applicants want to “put a solid roof on top of it that they can then incorporate it into a new building at a later date.”

The board adopted the resolution for lead agency status and entertained a motion to send a memo to building inspector Tim Platt allowing the demolition of the gable roof.

Planning board member Greg Ferraris asked Downes for documentation from an expert verifying the plan, in fact, has no effect to waste management and Downes replied he would have the sewer flow verified.

Sag Harbor Planning Board Reviews Proposal for Aquaponic Farm at Page at 63 Main

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The farm-to-table movement has flourished on the East End for decades, many restaurants boasting kitchen gardens to supply fresh, seasonal produce to diner’s plates. For Gerard Wawryk, an owner of Page at 63 Main, while a traditional kitchen garden is out of reach for the Main Street, Sag Harbor space, he has proposed a greenhouse that would employ aquaponic farming on the second and third floor of the restaurant building.

Aquaponics is farming that combines hydroponics — cultivating plants in water — with aquaculture — raising aquatic animals, in this case fish — in a symbiotic environment where the water from the aquaculture system is fed into the hydroponic system. Nitrates and nitrites created by fish by-products serve as a nutrient for the growing plants.

According to attorney Dennis Downes, representing Wawryk at a Sag Harbor Planning Board work session on Tuesday, November 26, this concept is something Wawryk has been exploring since 2006. It is only now, said Downes, that Wawryk finds himself in the financial position to move forward with the plan, which he has been developing with the help of the Town of Southampton’s Sustainability Committee.

As a result of the project, the footprint of the building will not change, but will remain at 3,860 square feet. The proposal aims to add 835 square feet of space to the existing second floor (which does not meet the full footprint of the building) for a seeding area and construct a 481 square foot greenhouse on the rear portion of the third floor. The second story of the building will also serve as a roof garden for the restaurant.

The number of seats in the restaurant is not increasing, nor is the existing apartment, noted Downes, meaning the project does not need additional parking or wastewater treatment to move forward.

“The vegetables that will be grown will be used on the site,” added Downes. “This is not where he is going to be growing vegetables and selling them on the open market.”

Because the project will push the building size over 4,000 square-feet it will have to be reviewed under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) as a type one action, meaning the planning board will have to assess whether or not the project carries the potential to cause a significant adverse environmental impact.

The Southampton Town Sustainability Committee, added Downes, is in favor of the project and has hopes other restaurants will be able to look at sustainable food systems like aquaponics to cultivate produce.

According to Terry Chappel, a consultant working on the project, the aquaponic system is closed loop, and is considered a low-density system or one that uses a minimal amount of fish to produce the nitrites and nitrates needed for the vegetables.

“We are essentially using the fish to start a biological cycle, a nitrification cycle, and it’s a very sustainable way of doing this because we are not having to import salt based chemicals from Morocco, which is normally the case,” he said.

“It’s very easy, low labor, simple and clean,” added Chappel.

The restaurant, he added, will be limited in what it can grow in the aquaponic system and will focus primarily on leafy greens. Seasonal beds are planned for the second floor and more conventional vegetables like tomatoes will also be grown in season.

“From a use perspective, nothing jumps out at me other than what if any are the implications of providing additional space of this size,” said planning board chairman Neil Slevin. “That is what we should probably think about.”

Board member Larry Perrine, the CEO and a partner at Channing Daughters Winery, asked how often the system would need to be flushed and what kind of additional wastewater would that produce.

Chappel said once the biology in the system working properly, it would maintain itself, but if something did occur the system would need to be flushed which would create wastewater.

Sag Harbor Village Environmental Planning Consultant Richard Warren suggested the board be furnished with pictures of an existing system to better understand how it works.

Restaurant Opens a New Chapter

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Page Restaurant managers Matt and Becky Kehoe, with Chef Humberto Guallpa.

Page Restaurant managers Matt and Becky Kehoe, with Chef Humberto Guallpa.



by Emily J. Weitz

Right in the heart of Main Street, Page has been feeling out its clientele since it opened last year. But with a new management team, complete with new chef and redesigned menu, it looks like they’ve hit a whole new stride.

Matthew and Rebecca Kehoe are a brother and sister team with roots on the East End and experience in the city. The third member of their team, Humberto Guallpa, is a chef born in Ecuador and educated in the kitchens of Manhattan.

“Becky and I work in tandem in the front of the house,” says Matthew, “and Humberto is the man behind the food. He is a young, accomplished, great chef.”

The Kehoes come from the food business, as their father owns a seafood distribution company on Long Island. Through many years of working in the business, they’ve gotten to know some major names in the restaurant industry. For example, it was Mario Batali who introduced Matthew to Humberto in the first place.

“[Batali] had worked with Humberto back in the day, before the fame and glory,” recalls Matthew, “and he told me [Guallpa] was a genius. He gave me his number, and Humberto and I started going to restaurants together, eating food, speaking about food, talking about ideas. We planned to do something together for some time.”

Page was introduced as an idea by a friend of Matthew’s who knew owner Gerry Wawyrk was looking to give the place a face lift. And while the wide open ambience and the inviting outdoor tables remain the same, the menu is a healthy balance of familiar and fresh.

“Our chef comes from Babbo and Aquavit and all these amazing New York restaurants,” says Matthew. “His wealth of knowledge is what makes it onto our menu. And I lived in North Sea as a kid, and knowing this part of the world and what people like to eat, it’s a combination of everyone expressing themselves.”

Because of the Kehoes’ familiarity with the place, they already have deep roots in the community.

“When I was 11 I worked for Tate King and North Sea Farms,” says Matthew, “so now we do business with them. My father supplies lots of local seafood, and we deal with Gosman’s. We get produce from Balsam and Satur Farms.”

Recently, he brought Humberto to North Sea Farms.

“I was out in the field,” says Humberto, “and I saw all these edible flowers. It’s really exciting to actually be out in the fields picking my own stuff.”

Humberto came to New York when he was 16 to start in the restaurant business. He went from line cook to chef de portis to head chef over the course of 16 years, and has worked with some of the most well-respected chefs in the business. He is used to cooking innovative cuisine, and considers some of what seems to fit into the palettes of the East End to be more “home cooking.”

“The food is simpler than the way I’m used to,” says Humberto. “But something like the seared tuna ceviche really keeps my style of cooking, technique wise. I thought really hard on that one. As well as the grilled Montauk fluke. It’s very simple, but all the flavors are together in one dish. That’s my favorite way.”

Another favorite of the new items on the menu, according to Humberto, is the tuna tartare.

“I’ve done that ten different ways,” he says, “but it always comes to be one of my favorites. Here it is avocado, olive oil, ginger, and pumpernickel crisp. Everything I do here in the restaurant. I never buy anything prepared.”

Along with the revamped menu, this new management team hopes to infuse the place with a whole new energy. They’ve gotten the pizza oven, previously unused, fired up again. They plan to make the most of their music license with lots of live music, adding to the weekly Sag Harbor music circuit with the Jam Session with Claes Brondal on Tuesdays. They’re opening the space up to karaoke and Bingo, and are receptive to new ideas to please their clientele.

“Food is fun,” says Matthew. “It’s creative. Restaurants are very creative. I find food and wine and restaurants very sexy.”

But this new management team is careful not to go too over the top with the flash and fancy. Local roots are important to them, and an understanding of the East End is key.

“An old Hollywood director said ‘I treat actors like stars and stars like actors’,” says Matthew. “That’s our vision. We want everyone to feel comfortable here.”


Fresh and Creative Local Fare

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By Annette Hinkle

There’s a new restaurant in Sag Harbor and diners might be surprised to find it occupying a familiar spot. Page at 63 Main is housed in the brick building where Blue Sky formerly operated, and before that, Spinnakers. But this new incarnation bears little resemblance to what came before, and Page at 63 Main has quietly opened to early positive buzz by offering a menu full of exotic flavors and local ingredients— and it even includes dishes vegetarians will love.

The sign for the restaurant arrived just last week, and while there is white table cloth dining in the main space, in the back of the building, Page at 63 Main will offer a market complete with juice bar and casual café selling pre-packaged menu items. That portion of the business is scheduled to open this week.

“This has been my plan — to take this restaurant to this level,” notes Gerry Wawyrk, owner of Page at 63 Main. “I’ve always thought about doing the market in the far back. Then we came up with the concept of natural, local, healthy and organic — and are just combining all those ingredients. Then I just had to find someone compatible who I could live with and could live with me.”

That someone is chef Jessie Flores — the man behind the food, who for nearly 10 years worked as a sous chef at the recently closed Della Femina restaurant in East Hampton. For Flores, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, stepping into the kitchen at Page at 63 Main has given him the opportunity and freedom to create a menu all his own.

“When I was approached they asked me, ‘What kind of food would you cook if you had your own restaurant?’” recalls Flores. “I said Hamptons comfort — but using all my local farmers, my local fishermen and everything organic as much as I can. I should be a part of the community – and serve simple food, but done well, and not hide it with sauces.”

When asked about his culinary style, Flores responds, “It’s a little bit of everything. I have a Spanish background, but I love Asian food and I was trained in French cooking. I’m not trying to set a new category, but it’s just the way I cook.”

As an example, Flores notes that he makes ravioli but, loves chorizo, so it’s not unreasonable to expect to see the two ingredients used in combination. Everything the restaurant serves, he notes, is made from scratch including the fresh pasta, his own red wine sauce, and even the breads. To accommodate vegans, Flores also has recipes like soba noodles with a medley of complex flavors.

“It’s well thought out,” he says. “It’s not just spinach and green beans, it also has local carrots, sexy mushrooms of a higher quality and chestnuts.”

When asked what his signature dish is, Flores points to the steamed bun appetizer on the menu — a variation on the Chinese staple, which is currently all the rage in Manhattan.

“I use shitake mushrooms — it’s also vegan – and I make it myself with green curry and soy glaze,” he says. “I think it’s become my signature dish. When I first made it, in the back of my head I thought, ‘This is awesome.’”

As far as a signature entrée, Flores has found that diners love his seared monk fish steak with chanterelle and oyster mushrooms, a bit of miso paste, white wine and a bit of butter.

“It’s a one pan dish, but very tasty,” says Flores who has just come up with a new dish that will be hitting the menu soon — a base of hijiki seaweed mixed with black and red quinoa —a healthy variation on cole slaw — served with seared tuna or scallops on top.

“This weekend I’m going to pair it with some soft shell crabs,” notes Flores. “For lunch it’s flavorful, delicious and fresh.”

Carnivores need not worry, however, Page at 63 Main still has plenty for them — including hangar steak and pork belly.

“There’s something for everyone in this restaurant,” promises Flores. “Including the steak and potatoes guy who wants onion rings and garlic mashed potatoes.”

Diners on the go will appreciate the market and café which not only offer freshly made juices, but pre-packaged items like wraps and salads. The café will also serve a light breakfast like eggs and pastries. There will also be a small green grocer component stocked with fresh produce grown by local farmers. Though the idea is good food to go, café tables will be provided for those who want to linger a bit longer.

“It will be made fresh every day, prepackaged so you can grab it from the cooler,” says Flores. “Eventually once we’d like to offer organic chips, wraps, juices, pastries and little sweets and a ‘picnic to go,’ an eco-friendly picnic sack with our label on it. We’ll set you up for a party of two or three, fill it for you. You buy it and bring it back every time you want to do a picnic.”

For Jared Wawyrk who manages the front of the house, Page at 63 Main is a welcome evolution of his family’s business. Jared is Gerry’s son and a recent graduate of Arizona State University. The name of the business comes from Jared’s mother (and Gerry’s wife), Susan, whose maiden name was Page and is descended from an old Sag Harbor whaling family. He feels he has come back to his hometown to be a part of taking the business to a new level — one that embraces natural and organic ingredients.

“You have to realize it’s the trend in food these days,” notes Jared. “I’m happy about it. I just see that the food is creative and it has to stay innovative. We want to stay sustainable along with the East End. I feel there’s room for our type of food in Sag Harbor. I’m really glad I can be part of this and offer quality service to match what’s in the kitchen.”

Page at 63 Main is open for lunch and dinner beginning at 11:30 a.m. The market will open at 8 a.m., and serve breakfast until 11 a.m. Sandwiches and juices will continue to be offered until closing at 5 p.m. 725-1810.