An egg and pastrami sandwich at Fyr & Salt cafe at 8...

An egg and pastrami sandwich at Fyr & Salt cafe at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

There’s locally sourced and then there’s walking out the door of your kitchen to collect eggs laid this morning. That’s the position Max Mohrmann and Jonathan Shearman now find themselves in at their new cafe and market at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue.

As chefs and partners in the live-fire caterer Fyr & Salt, they have always prized local North Fork produce, but now they have 24-hour access to 8 Hands heritage-breed chickens (for eggs and meat). Icelandic, Cotswold and Leicester sheep, and Hereford and Angus cattle provide steaks, chops and roasts. The Berkshire and Mulefoot pigs not only bestow pork chops, but form the basis of the farm’s charcuterie program, which comprises sausages (about 15 varieties), bacon and cured products from guanciale to Parisian ham.

What all this means for you is that from Thursday to Sunday, you can visit the farm and have a meal at one of the cafe’s long tables or outside overlooking the pastures and beds of herbs and greens.

The cafe menu features sandwiches ($16 to $20) such as eggs with house-smoked pastrami, Gruyere and pickled onion; house-cured ham with Havarti, pickles and mustard. All sandwiches are on homemade bread. There are must-be-eaten-to-be-believed soft-boiled “Turkish” eggs with yogurt, fresh herbs and chili crunch, za'atar lamb meatballs with cucumber and feta salad, English-style hand pies, soups and more. End your meal with a frozen custard, made with the farm’s own eggs, Ronnybrook cream, organic sugar and little else. Pastries and cookies are supplied by North Fork Baker’s Jessica Shearman, Jonathan’s wife. 

Fyr & Salt runs the cafe at 8 Hands Farm...

Fyr & Salt runs the cafe at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

The cafe occupies one half of the red barn; the other half is a specialty market where you can find not only 8 Hands Farm’s fresh meat and charcuterie, but chicken liver mousse and pork rillettes. There’s a terrific selection of pickles, cheeses, beans, pasta, condiments and other dry goods made outside Cutchogue.

Tom Geppel and Carol Festa bought the 28-acre farm in 2011. Shearman had met the couple when he started buying their eggs to make the fresh pasta at what was then Caci restaurant in Southold. He and Jessica wound up renting a house on the farm and, always an amateur charcuterer, he started curing his own pancetta and guanciale to use at 1943 Pizza Bar in Greenport, where he was executive chef.

Shearman ran into Mohrmann at 1943 where the two men, both from Smithtown, discovered they shared a passion for live-fire cooking. Late in 2022 they founded Fyr & Salt, whose catering revolves around an immense Argentinian wood-fired grill-rotisserie and a mobile wood-fired pizza oven. Summers were busy, but catering was not a sustainable year-round business. Meanwhile, 8 Hands’ original chef, Julien Shapiro, had decamped to the Hudson Valley and the kitchen was rudderless.

That’s how Fyr & Salt came to 8 Hands Farm. “It was a perfect fit,” Shearman said. “We all have the same values. Working together, the cafe and market are as farm-to-table as it gets.”

Fyr & Salt, 4735 Cox Lane, Cutchogue, 631-494-6155, Open Thursday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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