Phil Pasfield, chef-partner of The Brixton in Babylon, died unexpectedly on Friday. He was 34 years old; cause of death had not yet been determined.
The restaurant is open, with Pasfield's chef de cuisine, Ashley Mooers, running the kitchen.
In a profession in which good manners are at a premium, Pasfield was an anomaly.
“He didn’t scream or curse. He led by example,” said Lindsay Raynor, who started as a server at The Brixton but rose, with Pasfield’s encouragement, to general manager. “He was here from opening to closing time and never said, ‘that’s not my job.’ If he saw a diner’s water glass needed refilling, he’d refill it. He’d bus tables, mop floors. And so everybody who worked with him wanted to please him.”
But he was also uncompromising in the kitchen. “‘Make it nice or make it twice’ — that’s what he told his cooks.”
Pasfield opened The Brixton in January 2017 with partners Frank Bragaglia, Brad Wilson and Matt Murray (Murray is no longer associated with the restaurant). It was Pasfield's first ownership position and his cooking, evincing a refinement and craftsmanship rare for a gastropub, propelled the restaurant to a 2½-star Newsday review in May of that year.
Before The Brixton, Pasfield served as chef de cuisine at Starr Boggs, the seasonal restaurant in Westhampton Beach. During the cooler months, he also cooked at La Tavola in Sayville, The Trattoria in St. James, Orto in Miller Place and Public House 49 in Patchogue.
It was at Public House 49 that Pasfield met his future partners. “It was around 2013,” Bragaglia recalled. “He was working as a line cook for us during the off season and the chef left. Phil took over the kitchen and we saw just how good he was. He made everyone around him better, just an undeniable talent.”
Pasfield went back to Starr Boggs, but the owners of Public House 49 remembered him when they began to plan their second restaurant, The Brixton.
As a manager, Bragaglia said, Pasfield had the ability to see through applicants' perhaps spotty resumes to perceive their talents. “He’d bring on someone with very little experience, or who had had trouble in the past. I’d say, ‘Phil, look at this guy’s track record.’ But Phil would say, ‘No, this guy is going to be good.’ And he made him good. He would turn people around, make them better versions of themselves — that’s what made his kitchen so great, and that what’s made him so great.”
Pasfield attended Sayville High School and the State University at Cobleskill, and also studied at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. He lived in Patchogue with Katie Kauffman, whom he married in July 2016. In addition, Pasfield is survived by his parents, Robert and Janet Pasfield of Sayville, sisters Lori Ann Beckmann, Sandra Scott and Deborah Haase, and brother Joshua Pasfield.
Visiting at Raynor D’Andrea Funeral Home in West Sayville will be on Wednesday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Raynor's, with burial to follow at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church cemetery in Sayville.