Culinistas's Kitchen,  Hosts

Hamptons Happenings: A Farm to Table Q&A With Sybille van Kempen

Sybille van Kempen in front of Loaves and Fishes

by The Culinistas

If you’re looking for the freshest mozzarella, sweetest tomatoes, or juiciest artichokes out East, chances are you’ve walked into Loaves & Fishes, a Sagaponack staple started by Anna Pump in 1980. While it’s grown significantly since then, the quality has remained evergreen. These days, Anna’s daughter, Sybille van Kempen can be found in the kitchen and storefront, offering advice to customers and planning seasonal takeaway offerings like gazpacho, crab cakes, and open faced sandwiches. We spoke to Sybille about the release of her Farm Series cookbooks, and what makes Loaves & Fishes so special. 

How long have you’ve been in business?

41 years

What does gathering around the table mean to you?

Sharing food and conversation from the day and honest dialogue.

Congratulations on your new Farm Series Cookbooks. Tell us more about that and how you feature farmers, community and locality into your business/food philosophy.

We rely on our farmers and craft vendors for fine ingredients. We celebrate them every day by purchasing their crops and goods. In turn, we excite our customers with the freshest, most delicious and unique dishes. I am inspired by the passion I have been fortunate to see first hand from our farm families. I hope that by sharing these farm adventures and our recipes, our customers will find their own lives enriched. The joy of shopping for the best and freshest seasonal ingredients at the farm is unforgettable; meeting the farmers is life changing.

How have you seen these farms change over the years?

They have all specialized in their selections and grown as a result. For example, the Foster family has a sixth generation farm that has continued to grow; they recently opened their Sagaponack Farm Distillery and Tasting Room, where they produce vodka made from their own potatoes

What has remained consistent?

Quality.

Seeing the first fresh greens and herbs of the season in June from Green Thumb always transports us to summer. Describe a quintessential Loaves & Fishes summer menu/dish.

Our cold soups are so popular, Summer Borscht (Green Thumb) and Zucchini Yogurt (Foster Farm).

Fresh July ginger from Foster Farms is our absolute favorite and a culinary staple in our kitchen. What are some of your favorite ways to use it?

Ginger glazed carrots, ginger tea, The pork tenderloin (of course), any stir fry or marinade, with fluke, scallions, rinsed fermented black beans and a touch of soy sauce all rolled into one. My son, Kyle, my mixologist at my Bridgehampton Inn Restaurant, uses it in his cocktail creations!

It’s amazing that you can get harvested figs in August from Pike Farms. We always see figs coming from other states at the markets! How do you utilize these on your menus at Loaves & Fishes?

The figs were a gift from Green Thumb, grown locally. A spinach salad, red onions, toasted nuts or seeds and goat cheese. That is my favorite, but I adore eating any fresh fruit with sweetened whipped cream.

Three people you’d like to have dinner with?

Julie Andrews, Jimmy Fallon, Mary-Kate Olsen

What’s on tap for 2020?

The fall trio of Farm Series cookbooks will be released in mid-September, featuring the September bounty from Halsey Farm and Nursery, apples and pumpkins from The Milk Pail & Halsey Orchards for October, and ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast from Mecox Bay Dairy for November.

A special thanks to Sybille van Kempen for providing the beautiful photograph.