Hen of the Woods has quickly become Southampton's go-to gourmet market and chefs pantry full of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Here, founders Suzy Yang and Jonathan Bernard give the inside scoop on opening the store, partnering with local purveyors and their plans for the fall.
Hen of the Woods founders Suzy Yang and Jonathan Bernard
What inspired you to open Hen of the Woods?
SY: For me, there are two important factors that make good cooking: good ingredients and good company. I’ve been in the hospitality industry for over two decades, so naturally I thoroughly enjoy cooking for friends and family. With Hen of the Woods, I wanted to help bring out the cook in every person and share special products to elevate everyone’s cooking.
Why was the Hamptons the perfect location?
JB: Suzy and her husband opened Omakase Hamptons the previous summer, and I had been delivering to chefs out here for a few years now. The Hamptons was the perfect mix of folks who appreciated community but also wanted the best products.
Tell me about what guests can expect walking through the store.
SY: We stock our shelves to be a chefs pantry, a place for the savvy home cooks and the professional chefs to meet their needs. We also have prepared foods, much of which are cooked with the ingredients we sell, and items that make memorable gifts if you’re in town visiting. We’ve created an inviting and welcoming shop with familiar and new ingredients to inspire home cooks and professional cooks alike.
How has it been partnering with local farmers and purveyors?
JB: Working with local purveyors is like nothing else. We get weekly drops from Balsam Farms as well as fresh local scallops from Chris Scola. We have two talented chefs making local pasta, world-class stuff just a few miles away. Hoppy Acre makes us amazing hot sauce, and our friend Dereyk Patterson custom makes us one-of-a-kind knives, despite his client waiting list being hundreds of people long.
Can you tell me about the Asian ingredients and exotic produce offered?
SY: We are working directly with purveyors bringing in premium products from Asia. There are some amazing ingredients that are organic, small-batch that every chef loves. From four-year-wood-barrel-aged soy sauce (that Jiro Sushi in Japan uses) to Korean imports of baby seaweed, we offer a wide variety of unique Asian products that may not be found in many grocery stores.
Can Jonathan please explain the story of how he earned the nickname of ‘The Uni Bomber’?
JB: Back a few years ago, I started to become obsessed with uni. or sea urchin. So I started bringing it in weekly: from Maine, Santa Barbara, Alaska and eventually the very best from Hokkaido, Japan. Then I met legendary local chef Jeremy Blutstein, and we hit it off big time. Next thing I know, I show up to his house and he has ‘Uni Bomber’ merch designed, printed and ready to wear. Chef Blutstein is a huge influence in my life and one of the reasons we’re able to feature so many cool ingredients.
What are you most excited for in the upcoming months?
SY: We’re just getting started! We have two talented chefs, Kait Kelly and Alex Murray, who continue to introduce new prepared items and fresh baked goods. We also look forward to collaborations with other chefs to bring our patrons exciting, new culinary experiences. We’ll also be offering customized catering for small gatherings in the near future. 48 Hampton Road, Southampton, 48hampton.com
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF HEN OF THE WOODS