James Beard Award-winning Chef François Payard has opened a new bistro, Southold Social, within the namesake hamlet located in the heart of Long Island NY’s North Fork. The spirited concept offers approachable, local-origin dishes with a focus on seasonality and provenance.
Chef-owner François Payard is a third-generation chef who, after honing his skills by his family’s side and at La Tour d’Argent in Paris, moved to New York where he worked at Le Bernardin as well as Restaurant Daniel — where he received a James Beard award. He later opened the eponymous François Payard Patisserie & Bistro. He has won numerous other awards, such as the “Ordre du Mérite Agricole” by the French Government, the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence as well as “Pastry Chef of the Year” by Bon Appétit.
In collaboration with local restaurateur Adam Lovett, the restaurant seeks to embrace the hyperlocal maritime culture, rural wine country and farmland with ingredients sourced from the esteemed local bounty. The bistro menu highlights generous portions of housemade pasta, locally-sourced meats and seafood, bright and tart salads as well as crushable local North Fork and Old World wines. Menu items include housemade cavatelli with veal ragu, brine-cured pork chop, Montauk black sea bass, summer truffle polenta, a lobster roll with piment d’espelette (pictured above), a burger au poivre served with a mountain of pommes frites and line-caught crudo.
The recently renovated bi-level restaurant, which displays all of the natural hewn of its original wooden beams and beautiful teak flooring, features four distinct environments: a classic dining room; an energetic, buzzing bar area; an extensive tented outdoor patio and a top floor 38-seat private dining space — perfect for a rehearsal dinner or special event. A grand fire pit for oyster roasts is slated to open within the outdoor patio by mid-summer.
As the restaurant and hospitality celebrates Chef François Payard’s most recent opening, Total Food Service connected with the revered chef to learn more about the vision for his latest concept.
Tell our readers what got you interested in becoming a pastry chef? Walk us through your career track.
I was born in a bowl of chocolate mousse; my father and grandfather were both pastry chefs, so growing up, being a pastry chef was all I aspired to be.
Tell us about your partner North Fork restaurateur Adam Lovett, with whom you co-own and operate Southold Social.
Adam is a local Southold restaurateur. It was important for me to find a smart, experienced operator who knows the North Fork milieu as well as in terms of sourcing wine and ingredients of provenance.
Where did you get the inspiration for Southold Social? Why Southold on Long Island’s North Fork?
For many years now, I have had a dual residence and have split my time between Manhattan and Long Island. I have really had a love affair with the North Fork. I started working with the General last year and now, of course, in opening Southold Social. Until 2009, I used to have an eponymous concept in Manhattan, which was my heart and soul. I wanted to open a variation of ‘Payard’ on the North Fork. A similarly approachable concept, but with a menu that takes advantage of the bounty that is hyperlocal — oysters/seafood, rosé, produce, Long Island duck — sourced from within a tight radius.
What makes Southold Social different from other cafes and markets in the area?
Southold Social is completely different than anything on the North Fork. Ultimately, it’s a Gallic concept with local North Fork sourcing. This brasserie blends beautiful colors, great ambiance, and good vibes so it will be meal diners never forget. We also have an incredible outdoor dining area, and an oyster pit that we are excited to officially open very soon.
Lessons learned from prior jobs that you’ve brought to the culture at Southold Social.
Over the last four years, I have opened five different restaurants and have learned quite a bit. This menu offers the favorite dishes from each of the restaurants, so, you will find everything. We have pasta, crudo, polenta, ratatouille, and so much more…It is impossible to find something you will not like!
Are you experiencing any supply chain issues?
Yes, sure, but the silver lining is that we source from local farms and fishers so everything is fresh and delicious, and we are supporting the community.
Tell us about the local vendors you source for ingredients.
Everything we do, it is with the local community in mind. Pretty much everything on the menu is sourced locally. We rely heavily on local farm and fish vendors. If somebody approaches me and asks me to visit their farm, I will always go; I love meeting everyone and learning about the work that they do.
What’s your favorite piece of equipment that you couldn’t live without?
The KitchenAid, of course! And we purchase almost exclusively Staub cookware.
What’s your greatest aspiration for Southold Social?
When creating this menu, I wanted to bring the community something that you would see in the city, but is made with all local ingredients.
Favorite career accomplishment?
Payard –– everybody made lasting memories there. Even now, people tell me that they lament its opening. When people love a specific place so much, it is hard to replicate. I am glad that my restaurant was a special place for so many.
Who were/are your mentors?
My dad is my first mentor and continues to be.
What do you see ahead for yourself and Southold Social?
I see ahead of us a great place not just for destination visitors but for locals. Much of the time with summer vacation spots, the locals find that they are left out of the culinary scene. I live with everyone here all year long, so all of my restaurants are focused on pleasing them. I want everyone on the North Fork to know that we ensure they have tables whenever they want; they have a spot at the table. I want the locals not to just love it for one night, but for multiple nights a week, like Payard. The price point is great, and the portions are plentiful. Everything is local!