Vineyard Finds

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Spring Sheldon's peach and fig salad. — Spring Sheldon

S&S Kitchenette

Spring Sheldon loves to cook for people. For the past few years she has been running a catering business called Sea & Spoon Kitchen, as well as the food truck El Gato Grande. Now Sheldon has taken the next step and opened a retail space on Main Street, Vineyard Haven (in the former home of Moxie Cafe). S&S Kitchenette will serve multiple purposes. From the storefront location folks can walk in and take home heat-and-eat meals prepared in the onsite kitchen, as well as pick up a range of other items like lasagne, enchiladas, moussaka, sauces, and more. Periodically, the space will also feature events such as chef dinners, oyster tastings, private events, and other special offerings.

That philosophy has proven to be the key to Sheldon’s evolution as an Island business owner. After completing the gastronomy program at Boston University, she worked at various restaurants in Boston before moving to the Island in 2013. Sheldon launched her catering business four years ago, and when the pandemic hit she began offering a daily drop-off meal program in order to provide an at-home restaurant experience for clients during quarantine times. She created weekly menus for her loyal customers and the business took off.

Now the seasoned chef has taken the next step, bringing that business model to the general public. Every day S&S will offer a different prepared dinner to grab and go. The shop will also provide meal kits featuring all of the ingredients necessary to whip up things like lasagna, tacos or pizza, along with house made pastas and sauces. A retail section will stock local canned and preserved products, along with a selection of fresh produce and flowers from Sheldon’s sister Elisabeth’s Land Ho! farm and some locally made kitchen and dining products like cutting boards and ceramics.

Half of the space will be dedicated to the events side of the business. Sheldon plans to host guests at a long communal table for chef dinners, cooking classes, tastings, demos and more. The dining space will also be available as a rental, and Sheldon hopes to expand to fun events like a high tea in the off-season. Sea and Spoon will also continue to offer the drop-off dinner program and catering services.

“It will be a multi-dynamic space,” said Sheldon prior to opening. “Given the state of the world right now, you need to be able to pivot in whatever direction necessary.”

As if all of this isn’t enough for one person, Sheldon’s El Gato Grande food truck will be operating full time at the Mini Golf and also traveling around to events across the Island.

You can find out more about S&S Kitchenette and the other services that Sheldon offers at sskitchenette.com. To arrange for catering or an onsite event, call 508-338-2392.

Swimming Pig

Carnivores rejoice. Tyler Potter of Swimming Pig is now offering his Island-made sausages, and charcuterie items to the public at a new business on State Road, Vineyard Haven. The Larder, now owned by Rose Willet, has been reimagined as a farm-to-shelf provisions store offering local produce, a variety of cheeses from small farms, and products made from local ingredients (think canned and pickled veggies, sauces, and jams) sold exclusively on location under the Larder label.

Willet (of North Tisbury Farm and Market and Whippoorwill farmstand) has taken over the space across from Cronig’s Market that previously housed the Larder. The new owner has kept the name but has put her own spin on the business.

Potter will supply all of the meat products. These include handmade sausages in an array of styles (including some Polish and German varieties), pates, liver mousses, confits, rillettes (braised potted meats), and more. He will also be using an in-house smoker to prepare grab-and-go dishes like ribs and pulled pork. Other entrees such as jerk chicken and cassoulet will be offered on a rotating basis.

Potter plans to use locally raised meats as much as possible, as well as products sourced from small New England farms. His standards are high. He notes that everything will be antibiotic-free, pasture raised, and thoughtfully sourced using sustainable practices.

The veteran chef will add offerings based on demand and drawing from his lengthy experience working in the restaurant and food preparation business. His extensive resume includes working with acclaimed chefs at Boston fine dining establishments and running New England Charcuterie, a facility that processes prime meats to make a variety of artisanal products. Eventually Potter hopes to make his own pastrami, salami, and other deli meats and will be offering a variety of fresh pork products as well as things like brined chicken, jerk chicken, and skirt steaks.

For the past two years the chef/charcutier has provided a mobile meat processing business — bringing his grinder, sausage stuffer, and other equipment and ingredients to businesses around the Island under the business name Swimming Pig. He will continue to offer these services and more.

Potter is looking forward to bringing his artisanal meat products to the general public and incorporating new additions along the way. “I just want to keep it exciting and have fun with it,” he says.

Check out the Swimming Pig on Instagram @theswimmingpigmv, and find North Tisbury Farm there as well @northtisburyfarm.

Chef Deon 

You’ve got to like heat to appreciate the products sold under Chef Deon’s label. The Jamaican-born Deon Thomas makes his own hot sauce and jerk seasoning based on his mother’s recipes and both have a kick to them while remaining tantalizingly complex in flavors.

Deon, who calls himself the “Three Island Chef” (a reference to his trio of Island homes — Jamaica, Martha’s Vineyard, and Anguilla, where he once owned a series of restaurants) has been serving up his signature Caribbean and American dishes at the VFW in Oak Bluffs for the past decade. From the casual function room adjacent to the bar, Deon welcomes loyal regulars and newcomers with equal conviviality, while working his magic from an open kitchen at the front of the spartan dining space.

Customers have been coming back again and again over the years to feast on Jamaican specialties like oxtail, curry goat, blackened cod, and his famed jerk chicken. To accommodate somewhat less adventurous palettes, Deon also offers things like prime rib, salmon, and barbecue ribs. His lobster mac and cheese is legendary, as are his conch fritters. Conch is a staple in Caribbean cooking and Deon has mastered a number of different preparations which he shares in his book, “Chef Deon’s Island Conch Cookery,” loaded with recipes and gorgeous photos by Randi Baird.

— Randi Baird

To satisfy demand, a few years back Deon started selling the jerk sauce and the potent hot sauce he serves on request at the restaurant.

The secret ingredient in both is scotch bonnet peppers, which have a reputation for their high heat level, but also benefit from a sweetness and distinctive flavor that sets them apart from their more common cousins — habanero peppers. The jerk seasoning combines an unlikely pairing of savory ingredients with spices normally associated with baking such as cinnamon and ginger and, of course, the heat of the peppers. The sauce is a perfect complement for chicken, pork, fish or even veggies. The Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce is not for the faint of heart but, used sparingly, it will tickle your palate while adding a unique taste of the islands to any dish.

Chef Deon’s Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Sauce and Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce, as well as his cookbook, can all be purchased at Deon’s Kitchen at the VFW and online at chefdeon.com.