For more than 40 years Loaves & Fishes in Sagaponack has daily prepared fresh, delicious food, providing gourmet takeout food to its Hamptons community. They have a devoted clientele, many of whom shop there every week. Hamptons.com recently spoke with Sybille van Kempen, whose family owns the shop.
How long have you had Loaves & Fishes? What inspired your family to start a business feeding people?
Loaves & Fishes was originally a small shop opened by a filmmaker’s wife to give their daughters something to do in summer. In 1980 (43 years ago!) my mother, Anna Pump, bought the shop. She grew up in Germany, near the Danish border, and went to finishing school, where she learned how to entertain people. She took cooking classes, too.
I went to chef school and trained in the French tradition. My daughter Karina, who manages Loaves & Fishes, went to culinary school at Cordon Bleu, where she specialized in butchering; she now does butchering for us and makes sausage.
What are some of your most popular dishes?
Our Chicken Schnitzel is a big favorite; we make it with Parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs so it’s extra crispy. Another popular item is an old-fashioned ziti salad that’s made with mayonnaise. Some customers especially love our pecan pie and others love the chocolate croissants. The menu at the shop changes every week.
Where do you source your ingredients?
We source the food for Loaves & Fishes as well as the Bridgehampton Inn locally as much as possible. We live in farm country here, so we buy vegetables and meats from local farmers and seafood from area fishermen. We use honey from beehives behind the shop.
Your family also owns the Bridgehampton Inn and Loaves & Fishes Cookshop. How did that come about?
My husband, Gerrit, and I, created the Cookshop. We rented space in town for the cookshop and wanted to buy it but the landlord would not sell it. The Bridgehampton Inn is a wonderful historic building. We felt it was underutilized, so we bought it and turned part of it into the cookshop. We renovated the inn and kept its historic features, including three wood-burning fireplaces in the original 1795 tavern room. Our son Kyle curates the drink menu and tends the bar. He also creates special cocktails to compliment the menu, which changes every day.
Can you tell us a bit about the Cookshop?
We offer the highest quality kitchenware and homeware, which we select carefully from both local and internationally acclaimed sources. The shop carries cookware, a large selection of knives, dishes, glassware and silverware, as well as towels, napkins — everything you need for preparing and serving food and entertaining. My husband and I travel to Europe in fall to source items for the shop. We were unable to do that the last few years due to Covid and we are looking forward to going this year.
Can you tell us about the Farm Series Cookbooks you’ve published?
Licia Householder, my pastry chef, and I created a series of 12 cookbooks in collaboration with local Long Island farm families. It’s very important to us to support our local farmers as much as we can. The cookbooks bring them more recognition in the community. For the series we visited each family to learn about their working lives and their products, and we also include recipes in each cookbook. The cookbooks were created monthly from Summer 2020 to Spring 2021. Each one features a craft farmer and the products they make in that month. For example, The Green Thumb Cookbook focuses on springtime greens and vegetables. The cookbooks are available at the Cookshop and Loaves & Fishes.
How did Covid affect your business?
We were able to stay open throughout and kept all of our staff employed. It also was very good for our business. Many of our customers’ homes were used primarily in summer and weren’t set up for year-round living. During the pandemic many of them worked remotely from their homes out here, so they needed more cooking equipment. We were quite busy!