SummerFest Returns to the Southampton Arts Center

The annual SummerFest Culinary Arts Festival to benefit the Southampton Arts Center.

For foodies, SummerFest is the one Hamptons event that should not be missed.

In addition to serving as the premier fundraiser for the Southampton Arts Center, the event allows some of the East End’s most prominent chefs and restaurants to proudly showcase their latest culinary creations, or share some time-proven and favorite recipes.

Bob Abrams, the head chef at Little Red in Southampton, will be serving a new summer addition to his French-inspired American menu: avocado toast topped with grilled lobster.

“We grill a baguette … and then we kind of mash up the avocado so it’s almost like a guacamole,” said Adams, whose restaurant has donated a dish every year to the fundraiser, which will mark its fifth anniversary on Thursday, August 30. “We then add some marinated lobster on top.”

He explained that he prefers to offer attendees a lighter option, explaining that the fundraiser is usually held on a warm evening on the art center’s grounds in Southampton Village. Chef Adams also prefers to serve something that’s a tad unusual as there would be less of a chance of another chef or restaurant offering the same dish.

“You don’t want to have a bunch of similar dishes,” said Adams, adding that he always tries to offer a vegetarian option. For example, one year he prepared a grilled peach and tomato salad.

A summer fruit salad from Little Red in Southampton.

Keith Davis, owner of the Golden Pear Café, will be serving his famous lobster macaroni and cheese with truffle oil, Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton will be dishing both tomato salad and beef negimaki, and Clamman and Seasons of Southampton will be teaming up to serve tuna tartare, according to Molly Bishop, advancement coordinator for the Southampton Arts Center.

Jean MacKenzie Koster, who owns both Clamman and Seasons, will be bringing bite-size morsels of spicy tuna served in miniature ice cream cones to this year’s fundraiser. She said the cones look and taste like real ice cream cones but only measure between 1 and 1.5 inches in length.

“It looks like a miniature ice cream cone and you pop it right in your mouth,” said Koster, who has also donated her services every year to the Southampton Arts Center. “You get this little crunchy flavor mixed in with some spicy tuna.”

She added that her hors d’oeuvre is a popular item on her catering menu, and that she intends to make at least 500 of them for the fundraiser on August 30. “The place was packed last year, and people like to move around,” she said, explaining why she decided to donate a finger food.

A display from Tutto il Giorno, with locations in Southampton and Sag Harbor. 

Other restaurants will also be donating their services. EMP Summer House in East Hampton will serve warm lobster rolls, Boa Thai-Asian Fusion in Southampton will dish massaman curry with chicken and jasmine rice, and Saaz will share a traditional Indian plate of chicken tikka masala with naan bread, rice and chana saag.

“What’s nice is that they’re all very local,” said Southampton Arts Center Executive Director Tom Dunn, who will be attending SummerFest for the first time, regarding the long list of participating restaurants. “We have a collection of 20 renowned chefs and restaurants from Southampton and the East End.”

He described SummerFest as his organization’s signature fundraiser, noting that it typically raises more than $400,000 for the arts center, accounting for roughly one-third of its annual operating budget. That money helps offset the costs of exhibitions and programs offered by the center.

Dunn said the center is also “enormously proud” to present its 2018 Champion of the Arts Award to Peter Marino, a New York City architect who announced earlier this summer that he intends to buy the former Rogers Memorial Library building in Southampton Village and transform it into a museum.

“Peter has made a very exciting commitment to the Village of Southampton … and we are so pleased to have him as our neighbor,” Dunn said.

SummerFest runs from 6-10 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center on Jobs Lane in Southampton Village. Tickets start at $500 and can be reserved by calling the center or visiting www.nycharities.organd clicking on “Southampton Arts Center SummerFest 2018.”

“The arts center is very important to the community, so we don’t mind helping out,” Adams said.