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STIRRING THE POT: 35 Years of Nick & Toni's
WITH FLORENCE FABRICANT
To celebrate Nick & Toni’s upcoming 35th anniversary, Guild Hall and Florence Fabricant will bring Stirring the Pot to the beloved East Hampton restaurant for a rich, memory-filled conversation with owner Toni Ross, Chef Joe Realmuto, and special guest Chef Jonathan Waxman.
Florence Fabricant, a food and wine writer for the New York Times, contributes the weekly Front Burner and Off the Menu columns, is a member of the wine panel and writes the pairings column for the wine tastings. She frequently writes features that appear in the Food section and also covers food and travel elsewhere in the Times. She has written 13 cookbooks. This spring, her latest, The Ladies Village Improvement Society Cookbook: Eating and Entertaining in East Hampton" to celebrate the 125th anniversary of LVIS was published by Rizzoli. Other books include Wine with Food, based on the New York Times pairings columns and written with Eric Asimov and The City Harvest Cookbook, both published by Rizzoli. She actually began her career as a food writer in East Hampton, contributing the column In Season to the East Hampton Star. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Smith College, she has an M.A. in French from New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She holds L’Ordre National du Mérite from the French government, is on the Board of Trustees of Guild Hall in East Hampton, N.Y., and is a member of Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. (New York, NY). She and her husband, Richard, a retired lawyer, live in Manhattan and East Hampton, N.Y. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Toni Ross is a multi-disciplinary artist using time-honored material and site-responsive installation to explore themes of political and social distress. Born and raised in New York City, Toni attended Wesleyan University where she studied ceramics and fine art, graduating with a BA in Film Studies. Her practice embraces fiber, installation, sculpture, and works on paper. Toni has participated in artist residencies as a two-time Patricia Highsmith-Plangman Fellow at Yaddo and at The Watermill Center. She is a founding member of the artist collective No W here, whose second exhibition, Now Here, presented by Guild Hall: Offsite, was on view at the Amagansett U.S. Life-Saving Station Museum in summer 2022. Recent exhibitions also include C1760’s Femme F(r)iction at the Academy Mansion in New York, NY; A Loom of One’s Own at Onna House in East Hampton, NY; Threading the Needle at The Church in Sag Harbor, NY; Primordial at Palo Gallery in New York, NY; Finding Beauty in a Dark Place at The Watermill Center in Watermill, NY; and No W here: Bastienne Schmidt, Alice Hope, Toni Ross at Ricco/ Maresca Gallery in New York, NY. Prominent acquisitions of Toni’s work include Finding Beauty in a Dark Place (2020-2021), by the Brooklyn Museum in 2022. Toni Ross lives and works in Manhattan and Wainscott, NY.
Photo: Jesse Egner
Joseph Realmuto began his culinary career at the Culinary Institute of America. While attending CIA in 1991, he interned and then worked under John Laughran at the River Cafe in Brooklyn. Upon graduation in 1993, he spent his first summer in the Hamptons, NY at Nick & Toni’s. Realmuto returned to Manhattan for the off-season and landed at Park Avalon in Manhattan. At Park Avalon, Realmuto worked all kitchen stations for owner Steve Hansen, under chef Jim Botsokis.
In early 1994, Realmuto returned to his summer job and began what was to be a long relationship at one of Long Island’s most critically acclaimed restaurants, Nick & Toni’s. Joe was initially hired as a line cook and for the next two years he honed his skills as sous chef under executive chef Paul Del Favero before becoming the chef de cuisine in 1996. During his stint as sous chef under Del Favero, Nick & Toni’s received two stars from the New York Times’ Ruth Reichl, was awarded the Golden Dish Award from GQ and received high praise from Food & Wine when they claimed that “Nick & Toni’s is the best Italian restaurant on the East End.” Late in 1996, Realmuto was named Nick & Toni’s executive chef. In 2001, Nick & Toni’s received a three-star review or an “excellent” from The New York Times and was awarded a “very good” in 2015 from The New York Times following their 25th anniversary. In 2008 and 2011, Realmuto was a guest chef at the James Beard House. Realmuto has created and overseen the opening of four additional restaurant concepts with Honest Management Company – Rowdy Hall, an English-style, French bistro pub; La Fondita, an authentic Mexican takeout spot; Townline BBQ, an authentic Texas style BBQ joint; and Coche Comedor, a regional Mexican restaurant inspired by local products.
Realmuto has appeared alongside several celebrity chefs on the Food Network. He appeared on five episodes of Ina Garten’s show Barefoot Contessa, cooking signature dishes from Nick & Toni’s, La Fondita and Townline BBQ. He also was selected as a judge alongside Bobby Flay on The Next Food Network Star. Giada de Laurentis featured Nick & Toni’s and Realmuto on a 2007 episode of Giada’s Weekend Getaways. He was also commissioned to participate in The Q, a BBQ festival hosted by Paula Deen and her sons in Miami Beach as part of the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. Realmuto has appeared several times on Geroge Hirsch Lifestyle on PBS. He was recently featured on ABC’s The Chew in the fall of 2014 and appeared on FOX NY’s Good Day New York cooking up some Townline BBQ out of the company’s mobile smoker.
Realmuto has a devotion to local and organic produce in his menus. He helps maintain the 1-acre organic garden behind Nick & Toni’s, where he harvests items in season that go right to the plate. He is also involved with the Hayground School’s “Young Chef’s Program,” a chef-lead workshop for young children. He maintains relationships with many local farmers and produce suppliers supporting East End farms such as EECO farms, Satur Farms and Quail Hill Farms. In 2007 Realmuto spearheaded the creation and establishment of the Springs School Seedling Project. The Seedling Project has built a greenhouse at a local public school, Springs School, where Realmuto’s children attend. The mission of the project is to teach children about growing produce, cooking healthy and eating healthy. Realmuto’s dedication to the community doesn’t end there, he sits on the board of the after school program Project MOST for East Hampton and Springs schools. He can also be found volunteering for the local soup kitchens at the local churches in the community.
Realmuto is currently the executive chef for all Honest Man Hospitality establishments: Nick & Toni’s, Coche Comedor, Rowdy Hall, La Fondita, and Townline BBQ.
Photo: Eric Striffler
As a native Californian, Jonathan Waxman grew up in a family that celebrated the culinary arts. After receiving the Grand Diplôme from La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, he moved back to California to work at Domaine Chandon and then with Alice Waters at the legendary Chez Panisse. In 1979, he became the executive chef of Michael’s in Santa Monica, where he developed his version of California cuisine. He made his mark on New York in 1984 with the now iconic Jams. Today, Waxman is the chef/owner of Barbuto in Manhattan’s West Village, Jams at 1 Hotel Central Park, and Baffi in Atlanta. He is the recipient of many accolades, highlighted by the 2016 JamesBeard Award for Best Chef: New York City. Waxman's numerous TV appearances include Top Chef Masters, Top Chef, Recipe for Deception, and MasterChef. His charitable work includes Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Citymeals on Wheels, and many others. Waxman is the author of three cookbooks including: "The Barbuto Cookbook," "A Great American Cook," and "Italian, My Way." Waxman lives in Manhattan’s Upper West Side with his wife and three children.
Photo: Jeffrey Prehn