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Pork and Craft Beer Festival Brews in Bridgehampton

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A plate of pork dish available at the Topping Rose House Restaurant. Courtesy of Topping Rose House.

A plate of pork dish available at the Topping Rose House Restaurant. Courtesy of Topping Rose House.

By Tessa Raebeck

Why pork?

“Well, ’cause it goes great with beer,” said Ty Kotz, executive chef at the Topping Rose House, which will host its first Pork and Craft Beer Festival Saturday afternoon.

With the rapid growth of craft breweries on Long Island, East End chefs now have the opportunity to expand local menus beyond homegrown produce and meat to also include the homebrewed.

After spending an afternoon enjoying beers at a few of the local breweries, Chef de Cuisine Kyle Koenig and his wife, Jessica, the restaurant’s beverage director, came up with the idea for the festival, which will feature myriad  innovative pork dishes and craft beers from eight breweries.

Topping Rose House Restaurant Executive Chef Ty Kotz. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

Topping Rose House Restaurant Executive Chef Ty Kotz. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

“We decided, let’s partner with Niman Ranch, where we get a majority of our pork from, and let’s try to get very local brewers together and do a few of our favorite things—to barbecue and have some really great beer,” Mr. Koenig said Monday.

Niman Ranch and New York City-based DeBragga, which supply meat to Topping Rose, quickly signed on as sponsors, as did The Independent, Southampton Publick House, Great South Bay Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Moustache Brewing Company, Long Ireland, Crooked Ladder, Port Jeff Brewing Company and Montauk Brewing Company. A representative of the Montauk Shellfish Company will also be on hand shucking fresh Montauk pearl oysters.

“It’s kind of like any chef’s hobby to do tons of stuff with pork,” Mr. Kotz said. “And we kind of just started going nuts, so we’re going to have this huge spread.”

The chefs are preparing five different types of sausages grilled on a live station, tables of charcuterie, house made terrine, various vegetable sides, house made sauerkraut, sliders, chicharrones, and bacon, to name a few dishes—and the menu is still being expanded.

“We’re still throwing stuff on the bandwagon, our flyer is just a smidgeon of what’s actually going to be produced,” Mr. Kotz said.

Two machines will spin hand-carved pork shawarma, layered meat similar to Greek gyros and Turkish kebabs that spin on a stick vertically. A pork belly will be marinated Indian-style, then sliced to order, put in a pita and served with fresh vegetables. The other spit-grilled meat will be a Mexican-style pork shoulder al pastor.

Guests can also enjoy several porchettas, dishes in which the chefs take the whole loin of the pig, wrap the belly around the loin and cook it as a single piece, resulting in a savory, fatty and moist roast.

“It’s boneless, but because it’s essentially the loin wrapped in bacon cooking, it’s very tender and juicy and you get this incredible, incredible flavor,” Mr. Kotz said.

One table will feature charcuterie slicing with prosciutto Americana from La Quercia, an Iowa company that uses all heritage breeds of pigs to make rare American-made prosciutto.

“It’s just extraordinary,” Mr. Kotz said, “because they don’t salt it as much, so you can actually taste more of the pork.”

Pastry Chef Cassandra Shupp is “doing all kinds of stuff” for the festival,  Mr. Kotz said, including making “everything” potato rolls and pretzels that are the chef’s take on everything bagels.

“Everything sticks to what we do here,” Mr. Kotz said, “and that’s local and farms.”

All the meat at the festival is naturally raised and antibiotic free with no hormones.

“So, not only is it just a bunch of pig, it’s pig you want to put into your body,” he continued. “It’s what we believe in and what [Topping Rose Chef Tom Colicchio] believes in. It’s really pushing for better food in our food system in America.” Knowing the benefits of better nutrition,  the restaurant tries to “really practice what we’re preaching” he added.

A pig roasting at the Topping Rose House. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

A pig roasting at the Topping Rose House. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

Expanding that practice from the plate to the pint glass was an obvious and easy choice, as the local breweries were eager to join in on the festival.

“They were all like, ‘absolutely,’” Mr. Kotz said, “We didn’t have to twist their arm to be a part of this. This is an excuse to get a lot of people together with a lot of great food.”

Incorporated in 2010 and opened just two years ago, the Montauk Brewing Company has grown rapidly, with its beer now available on draft in about 200 locations from Montauk to the Queens border of Long Island.

Montauk Brewing is bring its flagship beer, Driftwood Ale, and the newly released Guardsman Stout to Saturday’s festival.

“The style is an extra special bitter, and relies on its balance between malt and hops for its drinkability,” Montauk’s Vaughan Cutillo, co-founder and brewer at MBC, said of the Driftwood Ale.

“Driftwood Ale turned out to be a beer that paired well with our local foodshed—from beef to fish to local greens and, most importantly, pork—the beer just worked and we couldn’t be happier,” he added.

Released this winter, the Guardsman Stout is a smooth, bold beer that’s dark in color with a “roasty” finish.

“Our beer recipes to date have accompanied a variety of dishes from our local community, and we would like to continue this tradition,” Mr. Cutillo added. “Doing too much with a beer can sometimes destroy the intentions of the chef. Instead, our beer truly pairs with the meal. The beer and the meal are enjoyed and their nuances complement one another.”

The Pork and Craft Beer Festival is Saturday, May 3, at the Topping Rose House, 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. VIP admission is $125 and grants access to an exclusive hour with the brewers and chefs at 12 p.m. For $100, general admission grants access to the festival, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information or to reserve a space, email mpoore@craftrestaurant.com.