Heritage Food + Drink Finds Daring Chefs and Drool-Worthy Dishes

Owner Jesse Camac brings on co-executive chefs to breathe life into the fun and interactive menu he is looking for.

We all have a heritage ­— a history of landmarks that have led us to our current endeavor.

For Frank Camey, it was his roots in Dutchess County and his tenure at Mill House Brewing Company. For Max Renny, it was his upbringing in the New York culinary world and his shared success with Jesse Camac. For Jesse Camac, it was his role in the expansion of New York’s Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue, and his decision to move upstate with his wife.

This confluence of events landed the trio at Heritage Food + Drink in Wappingers Falls, where Renny and Camey recently joined on as co-executive chefs after Camac decided to revamp his restaurant’s menu offerings.  

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“Our opening menu had some great items being offered, [but] we felt they were a little too straight forward, and, to be quite honest, lacking that big bold flavor that I always look for,” Camac expressed in an email. “We want our menu to be fun and interactive. Life is too short to take food so seriously.” 

Camey, a CIA graduate, brings his expertise in high-volume restaurants and stick-to-your-ribs cuisine, while Renny boasts an intimate knowledge of the bold flavors currently dominating the Manhattan food scene. According to Camac, the collaboration between these two chefs embodies the concept behind Heritage Food+Drink.

“I want to give the people what they want, but I also want to get them a little out of their comfort zone” he says. His aim is to combine familiar ingredients in a way customers have never seen before.

Lit with Edison bulb chandeliers, Heritage has the feel of a barn constructed in central Brooklyn, with succulents adorning onyx wood tables and exposed rafters overhead. The front of the restaurant houses the bar area, a great option for casual diners who just want a burger and brew. Back in the dining room, you’ll find a more formal atmosphere, with leather banquette booths, low lighting, and a view of the kitchen.

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Regardless of where customers choose to dine, they all order off of the same menu. Some of the staff favorites include the miso-glazed black cod, spicy tuna crispy rice, and maple glazed pork chop. In the coming weeks, Heritage will be rolling out a brunch menu, which will include a Bloody Mary bar. “There’ll be three different blends of Bloody Mary mix, with different spice levels; we’ll have pickled shrimp, we’ll have bacon­­ — so you’ll literally be making your own Bloody Mary.”

Also in the works? A pu pu platter, complete with Korean braised short ribs, pastry puffs, and candied bacon, all grilled tableside.

With so much food coming out of the kitchen, it’s no surprise Heritage has two executive chefs. A little unconventional, perhaps, but neither chef seems to mind. Renny is relieved to have someone to collaborate with, and Camey insists that any restaurant’s success is a result of the team working together, rather than one person’s vision.

Behind the bar, renowned mixologist Jessica Gonzalez has designed an eclectic craft cocktail menu, with options like the Mint Condition (Mezcal, fino sherry, crème de cacao, lime juice, mint, and angostura bitters) and the Chelsea Tradition (celery and pink peppercorn infused vodka, yellow chartreuse, lime juice, cane sugar, and a pinch of salt).

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Not a fan of hard alcohol? Heritage also serves local drafts, including an eponymous hard cider, custom-brewed by Hudson Valley Farmhouse to compliment menu flavors.

Asked about the name of his establishment, Camac rattles off a list of meanings. He mentions the Hudson Valley’s rich history, the local suppliers whose farms frequently go back several generations, and, of course, the origin of the food on your plate.

To Camey, the latter is what defines Heritage:

“You think about the pig that was raised for it, you think about the butcher that was slaughtering the pigs, then you have a guy in the warehouse packing them…a driver has to bring them, and he has to break his back to deliver them in the door…our butcher has to break them down and cure them for seven days and smoke them, so when someone burns something…you know — just have respect for what you do. Have respect for the craft. Have respect for other people’s jobs.  That’ll make you a better chef in the long run.”

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