In his first year on Martha’s Vineyard, Chef Aaron Oster has accomplished quite a bit. From a Summer with Jan Buhrman, the Kitchen Porch, to an amazing culinary event, Swine & Dine,and now he is the Executive Chef at one of the Island’s hottest new restaurants, The Port Hunter. One of the things that drew Aaron to the Island was the amazing agriculture. Lured away from New York City by the abundance of fresh ingredients, Aaron has never been happier. To get milk from Grey Barn, amazing produce from Mermaid Farm, to go to the boats in Menemsha and select your fish – this is heaven for a man who loves to cook with local ingredients.
Different, Interesting Local Ingredients
How will his passion for fresh ingredients influence the menu at The Port Hunter? Well, let’s just say that I don’t think the restaurant scene in Edgartown will ever be the same. The Island and the growing season are going to be the inspiration for the menu.
Not only is Aaron thinking local, but he is also thinking about sustainability. With this in mind, we’re going to see some really interesting, yet well known items on the menu. There will be things like Channel Whelk, which is conch, and is abundant in the waters out by Nantucket and Falmouth.
There will be Lappish, commonly known as Slipper Shells, which are those little snail like shells all along State Beach. Apparently, these little guys are absolutely delicious. Aaron said think Escargot. These shells are even considered a delicacy in places like Normandy. There will be Bluefish, Scup, and Black Fish, similar to Bass. Aaron wants to work with the fishermen. So much of what is caught is just thrown back in the water because it is less known. That won’t be the case with the fish at The Port Hunter. Aaron wants to create a “bycatch market” which means all the day’s catch has a use, there is no waste. This will help the fishermen make more money, help our waters be more sustainable, and a more interesting menu for guests — a win-win all around. Aaron is excited to have a menu so different from any other on the Island. His food is clean, pure simple, and just plain good and delicious. All over the Island Aaron will get ingredients for The Port Hunter’s menu. He wants to bring as much of the Island to Edgartown as possible, and support as many local farms and businesses as possible. He is also looking to create a completely scratch kitchen — meaning no processed food, sorry Sysco. To me this seems impossible, to Aaron it’s completely doable with a little extra time and attention. With goals like this attainable, other kitchens may soon follow. This means no GMO food products which can only mean a healthy, better meal. They will even be using organic fry oil!
Dining at The Port Hunter
All of this make you a little nervous about the cost of dining at The Port Hunter? Don’t be scared. Entrees will be $30 and under, but specials might be a bit more because they will be quite special, and most likely be something of limited quantity. How refreshing to know that you can eat super healthy, and not break the bank. Just because Aaron is serious about local food, don’t think for a minute that The Port Hunter is going to be less fun than last year. With a year under its belt, a new dining floor plan, and a great staff, this season at The Port Hunter is going to be amazing. There will be live music and what excites me is that Sundays are about to get a lot more fun on the Island. Aaron wants to have a “clam jam,” a prix fixe bucket of clams that you just go to town on. Also get ready for newspaper covered tables for a good ole fashioned crab boil. Think messy fingers, wooden mallets, and beer. These food experiences are designed to bring people together, old friends and new. He wants the experience at The Port Hunter to be fun and delicious of course. Also, think of the space. The building, a fixture on Main Street in Edgartown, has been re-purposed for something new and wonderful. Aaron’s style of cooking is taking old world techniques, long before we could get anything we wanted to eat anytime of the year, and re-introducing them to people. A little bit of symbolism there for you. The Port Hunter is opening for the season May 16th. Get ready for a different type of food experience in Edagrtown, and of course be prepared for a little fun too!
One more important thing to mention, Aaron Oster is also the President of Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard. Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard is a chapter of Slow Food USA, which supports Good, Clean, and Fair food for everyone. Aaron Oster’s passion for honest food runs deep.
Thanks for reading On Point. You can learn more about The Port Hunter on Facebook and to see what it was like during the Fall check out Fall For The Port Hunter – Great Beers & Comfort Food In Edgartown. Speaking of social media, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest and YouTube.