North-Forks would like to introduce you to Chef Noah.
At Noah’s in Greenport, Chef Noah has crafted an amazing restaurant with an exciting menu that at once speaks to what is fresh and local but often adds a twist. Located at 136 Front Street, Greenport, New York, 11944 , 631-477-6720, opposite the Greenport Post Office and facing the town green and waterfront, Noah’s is simultaneously modern and traditional, eclectic and comforting. If you haven’t already heard about this stellar eatery, you’re seriously missing out.
North-Forks sat with Chef Noah for us all to get to know him just a little bit better.
What was your first experience with food that made you want to become a chef?
As a kid, I remember going in summers out to Montauk or up to Newport Rhode Island and experiencing new foods. I remember a specific instance when my uncle took me to the Lobster Roll in Amagansett and being blown away by the food experiences and eating with my hands. I got it into my mind at a young age that I really enjoyed food in general. I wanted to be a baker because I used to hang out in the kitchen with my mom and my grandma while they baked and I wanted to be the bowl-licker. I thought “imagine if I were in a baker how big that bowl would be; I could get lost in there”. As I got older I got more involved trying different cuisines because I was an adventurous eater as a kid and I eventually switched gears towards wanting to be a chef. I had the benefit of working in restaurants at a young age too. My first restaurant job was kind of a fluke because I was still young and I thinking let me see what it’s like to be a chef. I was 14 or 15 and my friends parents opened a big Italian restaurant in our town and a couple of our buddies and I all got jobs there. I gravitated towards the kitchen right away. We got hired as Bus-Kids but rather than bring food, I wanted to see it made, so I was always in the kitchen. Eventually I became the guy who made the focaccia and cut the fruit for the water in the morning as I got to be a little more hands on. I went to a Liberal Arts college for about a year before realizing I wanted to do something a lot more hands-on, and that’s when I revisited cheffing.
What does food mean to you?
Growing up, I experienced my mom being either a pescetarian, vegetarian, and now vegan, and I was vegetarian for a few years, so I think the way I experienced foods led me to be open to people’s diets and trying different things. I remember going into the city for African food because it was veggy and mom could eat it and I remember thinking “these are big breads”. Everything was so interesting and flavored so differently.
What was your favorite dish growing up? What dish can you never make as well as you remember it being?
I don’t make it, but for a few years we lived with my grandparents and my grandma used to make this really great chicken souvlaki with pita bread and yogurt. It was really old fashioned and although I would never make now, I miss it.
What is the most challenging part of being a chef? Most rewarding?
The hours, for one because you are away from your family a lot. The other challenge is staying creative and relevant in the food culture because you get in your rhythm of the dishes that you like and get into your own style. You don’t want to emulate someone else’s style but you always want to progress as a chef or your restaurant and menu gets stale . You’ve always got to get out there and experience new things. Then you have to put them on your plate in a way that fits your style. That’s challenging but it’s exciting at the same time. The most rewarding aspect is getting to express yourself creatively and when someone enjoys it – which luckily here is most of the time – getting that instant feedback and reward that your creativity paid off and the dish works. Here I get to place a plate in front of you and see a big smile before I walk back into the kitchen.
What position is your unsung hero in your kitchen? Give that person a shout-out.
The line cooks and my sous-chef. They’re all unsung heroes because they put in a lot of hours and do a lot of the grunt work so to speak. I get to come out of the kitchen in my clean coat… Actually I keep a clean coat in my office and I change it before I walk out. But they work a lot of hours, work really hard, and go sometimes all day long without remembering to cook something for themselves. At the end of the night suddenly realize we’re starving and thirsty. Ray is my sous-chef and Brian is my new chef de cuisine, so now I can try to see what’s next for Noah’s.
If you could offer one piece of advice to restaurant patrons, what would you want to say?
Don’t forget how hard people work to get that food on your plate, and not just the kitchen but the servers and front of house staff, too. Sometimes people forget that this is your life and you’re giving it all you’ve got and when something upsets them they feel the right to bash you or be rude about and it. Sometimes people forget that they’re essentially in someone’s home and people can get really sensitive when they are being critiqued, so I would say, “Don’t forget you’re in someone’s house, so mind your manners”.
What do you do for fun on the North Fork when you’re not in the kitchen?
I like to say I surf, but last year I only made it out once to Montauk. I stand-up paddleboard because we’re close to the water. We have a dog, I like to get in the water a lot, go on our boat, do paddle boarding, wakeboarding and stuff like that. I like to just hang out with my kids and go on bike rides.
If you weren’t a chef, and could pick any profession, what job would you be doing?
I’m so hospitality driven I would probably say I would want to be running a hotel resort somewhere in a beautiful place where I didn’t have to be behind the stove every day but I got to interact with people and invite them in as my guests.
Tell us about one dish you make for yourself/your family/your kids that no one would expect?
Everybody at my house loves hot dog night. I don’t have to do too much. It made me feel kind of guilty, for a lot of years I shunned hot dogs as being the worst process food , so of course we order a good quality one through a meat supplier, but it’s funny: we all love hot dog night. I love to cook, but for me cooking at home means taking a day off. I have to shop for all the ingredients and the kitchen gets totally trashed.
Anything else you want to share or say?
Chefs are super passionate people, passionate about their food and passionate about life in general, and so I think they are usually the type of people who live life to the fullest and love what they do, and I think that also describes me.
While reservations are recommended, stop in to Noah’s 7-days a week in season or check out Noah’s On The Road, the taco food truck which can be found at various wineries and breweries across the fork. Look for Noah this June at the North Fork Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival at Jamesport Vineyards, presented by the New York Wine Events on Saturday, June 27, 2015 where he will be making accompanying bites.
Also, through July 2015, support Chef Noah as he competes in the James Beard Foundation competition to Build a Better Burger. When you visit Noah’s, ask for the 50/50, and tell them North-Forks sent you!