While most people know Nantucket as a seasonal destination to see and be seen, the island we’ve always known – and come to love as our own – is a dynamic but intimate, year-round community with one foot in the past, and one in the future. You won’t find traffic lights or big box stores here, but you will find the kind of Main Street atmosphere that cities and towns everywhere are trying to replicate as part of their own renaissance story across ‘mainland’ America. You’ll also find an amazing blend of heritage and innovation, as the newest generation of island leaders reaffirm their commitment to stewardship and sustainability.
From Humble Beginnings…
October of 2014 marked the fourth year since our return to Nantucket, and the end of a second successful season for our catering and private dining business, Dinner Parties Nantucket. At the same time, we were still at a crossroads in terms of knowing if and when we’d find the financial security to call the island our permanent home.
The greatest journeys in life sometimes begin and end in the most unexpected places. One day Greg was reading the island paper and discovered that reMain Nantucket had announced plans to sponsor a year-round culinary and educational facility on the island. Over the next three weeks we embraced the idea that, together, we could develop a program to foster year-round engagement and the kind of ‘third place’ – outside of work and home – that would celebrate the island’s rich culinary heritage in new and dynamic ways. We also knew that the venue would afford us unparalleled opportunities to compliment work already happening across the island’s culinary, farming, and fishing communities, and to attract world class talent to a new destination for cooking classes, demonstration events, tastings, and lifetime learning.
Our proposal incorporated feedback from literally dozens of community members on the island, and people we are very proud to consider our mentors and peers in cultivating a culture of excellence that Nantucket is known for. After months of interviews and meetings, we got the call from reMain. Actually, we got two calls. Greg cried. Joy froze, and said, “oh no!!!”. But after the shock wore off, our great partnership began to finish designing the building and completing the kinds of brick and mortar planning which would allow us to begin operations in phases throughout the winter of 2016.
Our Journey has Just Begun, but Already Life is All Around Us
Today, Nantucket Culinary Center (NCC) is a campus of creativity – a literal beehive of activity where on any given day you’ll find a local fishmonger mixing it up with cooking school students in the demonstration kitchen, young entrepreneurs breaking bread and making plans down in the café, and a classroom kitchen that literally lights up the night for a block around us with laughter and joy (and the occasional unintended flare up over the stove).
We live in the kind of place where if we need bread, we go the bakery. When we need books, we go to the bookstore. And when it’s time for our kids to play, we bring them to the toy store (and cross our fingers the weather has been good enough that the ferry was running, and that there are new things on the shelves for them to explore). We love the sense of place this island fosters in all who live here or visit, and that the people we’ve come to know in the Nantucket culinary world are as passionate about their work in brewing and baking and farming and fishing as we are about our own in curating memorable classroom and dining experiences.
We invite you to learn more about upcoming classes and events, or to stop by the Corner Table Café for a good cup of coffee and a treat if you’re passing by.
Greg was born into a culinary family where chefs were revered and family dinners consisted of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin in the PBS series “Great Chefs”. At seven, Greg received his first omelet pan, and by age 14 he had found his first job in a restaurant – peeling carrots by the 50lb bag, and learning the basics of ‘back of house’ work ethics in the kitchen and then ‘front of house’ smarts.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Greg would spend the next ten years working as a private chef on Nantucket and GM at several restaurants (both here on Nantucket and in Steamboat Springs, CO) before returning to the island with his wife and two young children in 2011. He has previously worked at Moors End Farm and Topper’s Restaurant at the Wauwinet, served as General Manager of Met on Main, and in 2013 co-founded Dinner Parties Nantucket.
Raised in the heart Washington State’s Cascade Mountains, Joy grew up riding horses, selling apples at Pike Street Market and learning the ins and outs of small town life. She studied and worked in the School of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University, participating in the first Community Mapping Project and learning the value of partnerships first hand.
While working in a family-run restaurant in upstate New York after college, Joy met Greg while he was still a culinary intern and student at the Culinary Institute of America. Together, they moved to Nantucket and celebrated their wedding on Surfside Beach on a blustery and wild October day in 2005. As Greg established roots in the culinary world, Joy found her own success as a community organizer and event planner for Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the Lighthouse School before co-founding Dinner Parties Nantucket with Greg in 2013. She remains a dedicated mom-manager to six-year-old Max and five-year-old Zella (who you’ll often find sampling new recipes at NCC with their friends after school!).