North Fork Chef John Ross visits Shelter Island to discuss the ‘The Poetry of Cooking’

Chef John Ross places  potatoes, carrots and onions in the oven to roast. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Chef John Ross places potatoes, carrots and onions in the oven to roast. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

North Fork culinary icon John Ross has been a professional chef since 1965. He was an early advocate of the farm to table movement at his Ross’ North Fork Restaurant in Southold, which he owned for 27 years. In fact, he didn’t have a freezer in his restaurant and ignored the trend toward convenience food. He baked his own bread from scratch and made all stuffed pastas in-house.

On Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m., as part of Shelter Island Public Library’s Friday Night Dialogues, Mr. Ross will talk about his long career, his new book, “The Poetry of Cooking,” and all things food. Prior to becoming a chef, Mr. Ross studied English literature at the University of Michigan. A self-described “failed poet” he dropped out of college and joined the U.S. Coast Guard. While stationed in New York, he was assigned to the kitchen where he learned the basics of cooking with the bountiful fresh seafood and produce of Long Island.

Once he was out of the Coast Guard, Mr. Ross took his new enthusiasm for food to the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, from which he graduated; he later earned a Master of Business Administration from Dowling College. He opened his Southold restaurant in 1973, also serving as the director of the restaurant management program at Suffolk County Community College for 14 years.

After “retiring” he wrote two books and served as manager of the North Fork Country Club for a time. His love of writing is exhibited in his newspaper column, “North Fork Chef” which has appeared in the Suffolk Times and Riverhead News-Review since March 2008.

Mr. Ross’s latest book is a self-published collection of wholesome recipes featuring seasonal local ingredients. His message is that anyone can make these recipes which are prepared with easy to find ingredients and do not require hours in the kitchen. The book is organized by seasonal availability, rather than by food category and features recipes from “North Fork Chef” columns. Divided into 12 months, each section begins with a food related poem followed by a “Prime Meal.” Several other recipes follow with accompanying photos taken by Mr. Ross and other local photographers.

At the Friday Night Dialogue, Mr. Ross will discuss his book and share some of the poems in it. He will also be demonstrating how to cook
“Grilled Duck Breast with Orecchiette,” one of the recipes from the book. Attendees will get to sample this yummy dish!

So we’ll see you at 7 p.m. in the Community Room in the library for a good talk, good food, and good company.

Next Up: Friday, August 5, Gallery Curator Roz Dimon will interview a panel of ArtSI artists in connection with the upcoming ArtSI Open Studio Tour, which is August 20 and 21.