Words: Marie Ann Mordeno | Photo: K. Janse
Robby Beaver of The Frisky Oyster describes his life as “organized chaos.”
He celebrated his first anniversary as chef/owner of the chic, city-style spot on Front Street in the heart of Greenport in May. The art deco décor with red leather chairs and metallic bar gives way to a warm dining room with an Asian-influenced red berry wall treatment. Robby proudly introduces his talented kitchen staff and demonstrates his Swiss purifying water system. A rear door leads to the harbor where “frisky” oysters are harvested and delivered daily.
“My cuisine is eclectic American with a French foundation presented simply yet elegantly. I specialize in slow food, sustainable produce and fish and organic local ingredients. Pipe Cove Oysters Friskafella, a takeoff on Oysters Rockefeller, Squash Blossoms stuffed with crab and local corn, seasonal and organic, and The Best Key Lime Pie, an homage to the South, are examples of my style.”
Robby further explains, “Organic food is not new or mysterious. It is how farmers grew produce before chemicals were introduced. Slow cooking to me is cooking, with care and love, recipes that cannot be rushed. A perfect risotto is a good example and a true test of a chef’s culinary skill.”
His transition from his grandmother’s Sunday dinners in Richmond, Virginia to a restaurant in Greenport was quite remarkable. His greatest influence was Jeff Buben of Vidalia’s in Georgetown and Bistro Bis in Capitol Hill, who encouraged him to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. His fondest memory was cooking for Julia Child and Jacque Pepin at Bistro Bis during the French Culinary Institute Convention. Although just a line cook, he idolized Julia and treasured her Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Currently, he is most inspired by Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago known for his simple and creative style.
Robby worked for years as executive Sous Chef under Master Chef/Owner Patrick O’Connell at The Inn at Little Washington, rated #1 in the world in a reader’s poll conducted by Travel and Leisure magazine. This experience was key to shaping his career. The Inn featured farm-to-table produce with pristine local ingredients, beautifully presented and flavorful. Chef Beaver brought this concept to Greenport.
“Greenport has welcomed me and I feel a strong connection to the people here. We were customers of The Frisky Oyster, then owned by Dennis McDermott, long before I began working here. My wife, Shannon, and I recently bought a house in Aquebogue to raise our children, Sean and Nora. I play drums for the North Shore Christian Church band every Sunday. The East End has become home,” he says emphatically.
This talented thirty-four-year-old chef, with his wealth of experience, seems to have the chaos organized and in control.
Crispy Tuna Spring Rolls: Robby Beaver’s recipe with basil, cumin and sweet chili sauce is a unique twist on an Asian favorite. The dish was inspired at The Inn at Little Washington, where they shipped tuna from Hawaii overnight. He continues this practice here. This simple, high quality tuna recipe remains on the menu, because the customers insist.
Crispy Tuna Spring Rolls with basil, cumin and sweet chili sauce
8oz. Fresh Sashimi grade Tuna*
8 Basil leaves
8 spring roll wrappers
1 tsp toasted, ground cumin
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 egg to seal the rolls
Slice the Tuna into logs 4 inches long and 3/4 inch square
Place the wrappers on a dry surface and place a large basil leaf in the center of each
Place 1 piece of tuna on top of each basil leaf and season with salt, pepper and cumin
Roll up the wrapper sealing with a little bit of egg at the edge.
Fry at 375* for 1-2 minutes
Slice in half and serve immediately with sweet chili sauce.