Attending the Hayground School’s Annual Feast
Travelers to the Hamptons know they can enjoy the food at ultra-popular Nick &Toni’s any night they can manage to wrangle a reservation. But Toni, Toni Ross, is also a founding parent of the Hayground School and once a year it’s worth a trip out to Bridgehampton for the school’s famous Chef’s Dinner where celebrated chefs assemble to cook up an exclusive benefit feast.
Every single seat at this year’s dinner sold out, but the cocktail reception hors d’oeuvres alone were worth the trip. Among the precursor tidbits were lemony “Romance in Aviation” cocktails made with handcrafted Owney’s rum which is distilled in Brooklyn, little plates of lamb chops with creamy vegetable puree from French American bistro Camaje which forayed out from Manhattan. Almond’s brought cups of a Malaysian corn soup, there was a selection of cheeses with cubes of quince jelly from Cavaniola’s in Sag Harbor, and Stone Creek Inn’s rounds of grilled octopus under little mounds of tomato preserves, lemon confit and Castelvetrano olives.
After cocktails, those with reservations ― who still had an appetite!! ― went into the cafeteria for the elegant dinner. Chefs are surprised to discover the on-site professional kitchen. “You told me it was a school kitchen, but this is amazing,” Larry Forgione the “godfather of American cuisine” is said to have exclaimed when he participated. Part of Hayground’s progressive curriculum has the students study food science, nutrition, and cooking with classes held in the Jeff’s Kitchen, named for Jeff Salaway, Toni’s late husband who was a founder of the school.
Toni Ross, whose contacts in the restaurant community help lure the celebrity chefs, was an Honoree this year along with renowned pastry chef Claudia Fleming of the North Fork Table and Inn.