A pinch of extra personality for Hamptons meal maker

Making it Burke: Hamptons-based prepared-meals startup Honest Plate has recruited renowned chef David Burke to its plant-forward, farm-to-fork cause.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A celebrity chef with connections to Bobby Flay, Bloomingdale’s and President Donald Trump will spice up the menu of a Hamptons-based meal service.

Honest Plate – launched in January by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Ashley and Diana Heather, along with well-known regional chefs Jon Albrecht and Nick Reisini – has recruited culinary king David Burke to cook up exclusive meals following the startup’s clean-eating mantra, which combines plant-forward and Whole30 models.

As Hamptons-based meal services go, this is an all-star crew. Serial entrepreneur Ashley Heather is the founder of The Spur, the growing network of “innovation hubs” for East End impresarios; Albrecht, who runs a private Hamptons-based catering service and is owner of Ciao Fresco restaurant in Palm Springs, Calif., first crossed paths with Reisini – a then-French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) graduate and mainstay at East Hampton’s Dopo La Spiaggia – in the kitchen of Sag Harbor’s Tutto Il Giorno.

Now add a dash of Burke, a Culinary Institute of America graduate of global repute – still the only American to win France’s coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur – who brings some fairly awesome culinary chops to his first foray into the prepared-meals business.

Burke boasts a baker’s rack of international awards and honors, plus an extensive television résumé featuring guest shots with Rachel Ray and “The Today Show,” multiple competitions on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” and a fierce battle with the infamous Flay on “Iron Chef America.”

Nick Reisini: Sustainability, with taste.

The 1998 Chef Magazine Chef of the Year – who runs BLT Prime inside Washington’s Trump International Hotel and insists the president does not put ketchup on his well-done New York strip – has also dabbled in entrepreneurism more than once, including a now-defunct dalliance known as David Burke at Bloomingdale’s inside the retail chain’s flagship New York store.

His skills and experiences immediately push Honest Plate into a higher orbit, according to Heather.

“It’s a privilege to have someone of David Burke’s experience partner with us,” the co-owner noted. “Being actively involved in culinology, chef Burke’s groundbreaking techniques, combined with Honest Plate’s farm-to-fork and minimal-waste concept, is bringing the healthy food system to a whole new level.”

And that, obviously, includes a whole new menu, with items prepared exclusively by the chef for Honest Plate with the Whole30 approach – a 30-day fad diet (and favorite of the Heathers) that eschews sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy and dairy – in mind.

Featuring 100 percent organic ingredients, mostly locally curated and many produced by Honest Plate’s new Riverhead greenhouse, the meals also conform to Honest Plate’s unique combination of sustainability and convenience – each is a “heat-and-eat” combo pairing a main dish with a soup or side, delivered in custom glass containers that are designed to be returned and recycled, with no single-use plastics in sight.

The restrictive ingredients are a challenge but not a limitation for Burke, who’s planning seasonal menus based on current crops. Beginning June 24 (and through the end of July), David Burke For Honest Plate will feature such dishes as Moroccan Spiced Chicken Lettuce Cups, a roasted organic chicken with tomato couscous and a “vegetarian riff” on the chef’s signature Clothesline Bacon, with squash in the starring role.

Ashley Heather: Adding a key ingredient.

Honest Plate is planning a June 26 Garden Plate Dinner Party at Honest Plate Kitchen & Gardens in Calverton, one of three brick-and-mortar pick-up sites, to officially welcome the chef. The event – with proceeds earmarked for the Hamptons-based Fighting Chance Counseling & Resource Center – is slated to feature a multi-course tasting menu, private tables (six feet apart) and other HIPAA-compliant Cleared4Work protocols.

Burke, perhaps known best for his myriad high-profile restaurants, expressed excitement not only about the gauntlet of a plant-based culinary approach, but about contributing to a “new normal” focused on better nutrition and quality family time at home.

“Partnering with Honest Plate, with its high degree of customization that enables families to eat together but not necessarily eat the same thing together, along with its health- and plant-forward direction, is so relevant to these extraordinary times,” Burke said in a statement.

“We’ve all learned a lot more about the importance of family and become so much more aware of how the food choices we make affects our wellbeing,” the chef added. “The so-called ‘new normal’ is going to include more time spent eating at home, with a concentration on meals that help promote good health.”