Chef Gerry Hayden of North Fork has ALS

Gerry Hayden is head chef and co-owner of Gerry Hayden is head chef and co-owner of the North Fork Table & Inn in Southhold. Photo Credit: Jordanstudio.com

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Sad news from Southold. Gerry Hayden, a partner in the four-star North Fork Table and Inn, has ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, a progressive neurological disease.

Hayden, 47, is still the restaurant's executive chef. He comes to work every day, composes the menu and oversees the kitchen. Last July, about six months after the diagnosis, he hired the restaurants first chef de cuisine, Stephan Bogardus. I havent worked the line in a while, Hayden said, but this was the first time I put so much of the cooking in someone elses hands.

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Bogardus, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, had worked at the North Fork Table for two years but had left to cook for Daniel Boulud at restaurants in Manhattan and Palm Beach.

The situation is perfect for us, Hayden said. The physical part of the job is eluding me. The creative part is not. For Stephan, he wanted to learn the ins and outs of running a restaurant. Under my tutelage, hes learning what it takes to do what I do.

North Fork Table and Inn opened in 2006, a collaboration between Hayden, his wife, pastry chef Claudia Fleming, and Mike and Mary Mraz, who handle the front of the house. The last time Newsday reviewed the restaurant it received 4 stars. The latest Zagat survey gave it 29 out of 30 points. But Hayden doesnt believe the restaurant can rest on its past laurels. When people come out to the North Fork, chances are theyve read about us. Theyre thinking Are they really all that good? We always have to be on top of our game.

ALS is a serious setback, but Hayden remains fully invested in running a world-class restaurant, and bullish on its excellence. Claudia and I, he said, we are forces to be reckoned with.

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Hayden, twice nominated for the James Beard best chef Northeast award, will be the guest of honor at and beneficiary of a star-chef-studded dinner at Colicchio & Sons in Manhattans Meat Packing District on June 24. Among the chefs cooking to raise money for Hayden will be Tom Colicchio, David Burke, Alfred Portale, Wylie Dufresne, Marco Canora, Bryan Voltaggio and Michael Mina. Tickets are $250 each and are limited. For more information on the benefit, or to donate to Haydens foundation, Haydens Heroes, click here.

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