Winter affords me a great deal of thinking time. Cutting through the frosted waters of Oyster Bay and the Long Island Sound in my ongoing pursuit of nature’s perfect creations (in my humble opinion), recipes and table settings dance around my mind. These thoughts are warm companions on the coldest days, when my hands ache and the wind scorches my lungs. In a matter of months, I’ll be back in a tee shirt, harvesting clams and oysters for clambakes and backyard parties instead of bringing bushels to market for people up and down the East Coast to enjoy.
I think about these folks, as well. There’s something simple, yet magical thinking about the fruit of my labor winding up in the finest restaurants. So few professions offer the kind of satisfaction one has in knowing that the work I’m doing hasn’t changed since our ancestors harvested shellfish from the very same waters I work every day. I imagine a couple sitting down for an anniversary dinner, or an extended family gathering for a reunion, partaking in nature’s perfect delights. From bay-to-table. I can see mouths watering when the waiter approaches with trays of iced oysters surrounded by dipping sauces.
I’ve shucked clams and oysters with Billy Joel, prepared elaborate beach parties on Dune Road, and stood side-by-side with home chefs who could rival the finest chefs in any restaurant. The common denominator to all of these moments is an unabashed love of fresh seafood.
Like I said, there’s a lot of thinking time out here on the water.
The warm thoughts that surround me when it comes to the best part of my year are even more satisfying. Mostly because I’m part of them! I’m fortunate that word of the Schultzy’s (famous) clambakes and raw bars has spread over the past few years. It has brought me to parts of Long Island I have never known before. From Sands Point to Montauk, people from all over the island have invited me into their homes for communions, graduations, engagement parties, or just to hang out and feast.
I’ve shucked clams and oysters with Billy Joel, prepared elaborate beach parties on Dune Road, and stood side-by-side with home chefs who could rival the finest chefs in any restaurant. The common denominator to all of these moments is an unabashed love of fresh seafood. There’s something about what I do that connects people in a visceral way. I’ve never left an off-premise catering job without receiving hugs and handshakes from my hosts and most of their guests.
It’s hard to explain, really. I think the ocean air is something that all Long Islanders carry with them. It’s both our rocket fuel and our chamomile tea—the thought of being near the water is both exciting and the thing that keeps us grounded in a crazy world. Most people probably wouldn’t be as excited if they dealt with the elements that are part of my job day in and day out, but there’s no question that it’s our common bond.
The bay has been fruitful of late. I’m grateful for that. When the winds calm down and the weather warms a bit, I’ll be back on the sun-drenched Long Island Sound turning recipes around in my head as you plan your event. You plan, I’ll prepare. Together we’ll enjoy.
See you soon. Buzz me later.