The Hamptons event of the summer took place this past weekend; Hayground School’s 13th Annual Chefs Dinner at Jeff’s Kitchen at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, NY. Probably the yummiest event as well! Chef Tom Colicchio and Nick & Toni’s Toni Ross (a Hayground founder) hosted a farm-to-table benefit dinner which honored Bill Telepan (Executive Chef Oceana and Wellness in the Schools) and Tinka D. Topping (Hayground Founding Member). Eleven Chefs including Arjun Achuthan (Haygound School); Josh Capon (Lure Fishbar, Bowery Meat Company); Michael Cavaniola (Cavaniola’s Gourmet); Claudia Fleming (North Fork Table & Inn); Roger Martinez (Il Buco); Christian Mir (Stone Creek Inn); Garrison Price (Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria); Hillary Sterling (Cook Shop, Vic’s); Trevor Swope (Dock to Dish); Joe Realmuto (Nick and Toni’s & Townline BBQ), and Jason Weiner (Almond, L&W Oyster Co.) prepared the perfect evening for a group of 150 modern food cognoscenti.
Each year, Hayground secures a handful of culinary masters to work together for one night only, cooking together in one kitchen, to raise funds for the school. Chefs Dinner is the school’s only fundraiser, with additional funds coming from the highly coveted summer camp. The event raises funds, which will support the 82% of students who are receiving financial aid during Hayground’s school year.
One of the evening’s first speakers was Tohanash Tarrant, granddaughter of Elizabeth Thunderbird Haile, alongside Tinka Topping, one of Hayground’s founding members. Cohannash was a graduate of Hayground’s first year.
The guest list included Hilaria and Alec Baldwin, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Tony Hitchcock, Alan Patricof, and Nisa and Jeffrey Tannenbaum.
The evening began with guests enjoying a variety of locally grown hor d’oeuvres. Josh Capon served Chilled Fishers Island Oysters with Pineapple Cucumber Salsa, Chilled Kushi Oysters with Jalapeño Ponzu, Uncle Arthur’s Chilled Littleneck Clams with Hot Sauce and Lemon. Michael Cavaniola provided an artisanal cheese selection. Arjun Achuthan made wood fired flatbreads in the Hayground wood-fired oven with Hayground student chefs. Roger Martinez served figs, ricotta, marcona almond and aged balsamic. Trevor Swope provided Montauk Crudo of Citrus Cured Local Fish. Jason Weiner prepared beet and cucumber gazpacho with smoked bluefish and horseradish (which he also prepared on Good Day New York, earlier in the week).
During the Five-Course dinner, Hillary Sterling prepared the first course of local tomatoes in saor, paired with Domaine le Fay d’Homme Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur Lie 2015. Garrison Price prepared the second course of housemade maccheroncini with local clams, garlic scape pesto and sunflower sprouts which was paired with San Giovanni Paestum Bianco 2015. Christian Mir created the third course of butter poached lobster with coconut ginger lime broth, which was paired with Fattoria San Lorenzo Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore “Campo delle Oche” 2012. Joe Realmuto prepared the fourth course of roasted quail with local peaches, corn and arugula, paired with Fabrizio Iuli Vino Rosso “Nino” [Pinot Nero] 2013. Claudia Fleming served the fifth course of blackberries and sweet corn cream, which was paired with Ezio Cerruti Moscato Bianco Passito “Sol” 2011. The five chefs prepared the entire dinner using local ingredients, some of which came straight from the Edible Schoolyard gardens, located on Hayground’s own 13 acres. The evening’s wine selections were made by Christian Troy Indie Wineries.
A live auction hosted by Charles Antin of Lot 1 Auctioneers included some very exciting packages, including a package of gift certificates to some of New York City’s most renowned restaurants courtesy of chef Bill Telepan’s close friends and colleagues. The Island of Mustique – Villa America winner received one week on the exclusive island of Mustique in the Caribbean archipelago, a fabulous contemporary hillside villa with a relaxed, open floor plan that offers spectacular sea-views across the Northern Grenadines. The Ultimate Nick & Toni’s Package winner received dinner and wine for six guests at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton and an invitation for four to the opening night at Coche Comedor, the newest culinary destination by the Nick & Toni’s team. Additionally, they will receive a reservation at Nick & Toni’s once a week from August through Labor Day weekend for up to four people. Another winner received a Chefs Tasting Menu for 6 at Le Bernardin, including a menu hand-picked by Chef Eric Ripert with wines selected by Sommelier Aldo Sohm. In a surprise addition, the highest bidder won complimentary reservations to the re-opening of the winner of World’s Best Restaurant: Eleven Madison Park.
Chefs Jason Weiner and Josh Capon introduced their friend, honoree Bill Telepan. Chef Bill Telepan was honored for his activism and tireless work with Wellness in the Schools, a non-profit that helps provide public school students with essential meals as well as culinary education. Telepan has helped 100 schools in four states fight obesity and low academic performance by providing healthier meals and exercise programs. “If the nation would think about the difficulties kids are having with obesity and low performance—the cost lost to our thinkers, innovators, even our military—they will quickly see how much this is costing us. And if they change how that money is spent, and how much they are funding meals in the schools, and if they think about the next generation of kids being healthy and sharp, the benefits are all there,” said evening honoree Chef Bill Telepan. Chef Telepan was introduced to Hayground’s programs byChef Jason Weiner of Almond Restaurants, a longtime supporter of the Hayground’s Chefs Dinner, whose daughter attends the school.
Ella Engel-Snow and Jaja Engel-Snow, granddaughters of Tinka Topping gave a moving tribute. Honored for being one of Haygound’s founding members and devotion to children’s education, Topping is a champion for children’s education and the right to learn; she supports the implementation of new, exciting, alternative ways to educate school children. Tinka also has been an active and vocal proponent of preserving farmland and open space, vital to the environment and way of life on the East End.
“In founding Hayground, we had several goals: to break down the out of date lock-step definition of an age bound classroom, to produce a model of what any elementary school should be in terms of its population—diverse in race, class, ethnicity, available to all—and to remove a hierarchical structure in which a director is the captain of the ship in favor of a horizontal model in which the teachers design the program with their interests and passions forming how their classes will emerge. We learned a lot, and are still learning how to be a more creative, intellectual, and exciting place for kids to learn, that survives in this increasingly complex and difficult world,” says evening honoree Tina Topping.
The Chefs Dinner Committee included: Toni Ross (Chair Emeritus), Elaine DiGiacomo (Co-chair), Almond Zigmund (Co-chair), Erica-Lynn Huberty, Scott O’Neil, Perry Burns, Craig Wood, Christian Troy, Cindi Crain, and Jamison Wilson.
The Chefs Dinner Advisory Committee included: Karine Bahkoum, Josh Capon, Emily Chu, Leslie Close, Tom Colicchio, Kimberly Cooper, Brain Halweil, Tony Hitchcock, Ron Kaplan, Victoria Munroe, Joseph Realmuto, Susan Ringo, Éric Ripert, Sandra Ripert, Clifford Ross, and Lori Silverbush.
Since 1996, Hayground’s mission has been to create a community of students and mentors who explore together the central questions of human culture in the natural world. Hayground fulfills its mission through a set of core values and practices: diversity, mentorship, meaningful work, mixed age groups, social responsibility, and sustainability.
In 2004, the Hayground community joined hands to build Jeff’s Kitchen, a state-of-the-art culinary classroom that was the long-held dream of founding parent and local restaurateur Jeff Salaway. Today, the Culinary Arts Program is a complete embodiment of the Hayground experience—an authentic endeavor that demands daily collaboration and a full integration of academic, social, and professional skills. Throughout the year, students learn how to grow, prepare, and cook in Jeff’s Kitchen under the guidance of chef Arjun Achuthan. The school’s Culinary Arts Program teaches students farm-to-table practices, incorporating incidental hands-on science and math lessons, nutrition and business skills.