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A Chat with The Bell & Anchor's Sam McCleland about Dan's Harvest East End, Seasonal Fare & Vino

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Dan's Harvest East End will take place at McCall Vineyards and Ranch in Cutchogue on Saturday, August 23rd. The Long Island Wine Council really throws down at this charity fundraiser which benefits the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Foundation and Peconic Land Trust. Featuring more than 40 wineries and 20 chefs, this high-end night of debauchery (oops, we meant decadence) gives local culinary stars a chance to show off their gastronomic prowess amidst the grapes. Tickets are $125 for general admission; $275 for Vin-IP entry which features early admission and access to the Library Lounge.

We are psyched for The Bell & Anchor's participation at this event, and we caught up with executive chef-partner, Sam McCleland. He dished about Eric Ripert, vino, and his recipe for success. Spoiler alert: hard work appears to be McCleland's big secret.

Is this your first time at Dan's Harvest East End?
This is our second time. We last participated a couple years ago when it was at Wölffer Estate.

What are the challenges of planning food dishes for an event like this?
There is not much of a challenge, as we have so much local produce at our fingertips, especially this time of year when lots of things are in season. I am glad to have a great team, at both The Bell & Anchor and The Beacon, so I can get out of the kitchen to personally participate in events off site.

Since wine is featured so heavily at this event, what types of wine pairs best with seafood?
It all depends on personal preference. I love Channing Daughters rosé, which pairs nicely with a lot of our menu.
Does The Bell & Anchor feature much Long Island wine on the menu?
We have at least half a dozen local wineries on our wine list. Channing Daughters, Lieb Cellars, Paumanok Vineyards, and Wölffer Estate are among them.

What should we be eating right now at The Bell & Anchor?
Always the fresh seafood: striped bass is in season, crudos and ceviches are great in the summertime and we have fresh lobster. Basically anything that is light and summery.

What's the most underrated dish at your restaurant?
We have created an enticing menu and are fortunate to have all our dishes sell well. Our Guava Baby Back Ribs might not be the first dish that comes to mind when you think of The Bell & Anchor, but Eric Ripert is a fan and orders them every time he comes in.

Anything new you are dying to try out on the menu?
In the summertime, we keep it fresh and light. We work closely with local purveyors, farmers markets and fishmongers, etc. to incorporate what's fresh and in season. Our menu changes a bit every day as a result, so we are always trying something new!

Your restaurant has received a lot of praise. What's the secret to your success?
Lots of hard work and dedication with a great team that works together. It's long days every day- I personally like to come in each morning to make sure we are set up for success. You can't control the bumps in the road that come up, but put in the hours and it ultimately lessens the overall burden and helps you roll with the punches.