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Hudson Valley Chefs Share Fourth of July Memories

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Local restaurateurs reflect on their favorite foods, flavors, and memories from Independence Days past.

“I like to barbecue on the Fourth of July just as much as everyone else, but I like to focus on vegetables that are plentiful and cheap, starting with roasted-lemon mojitos to grilled corn with smoked paprika butter, charred zucchini-ribbon salads tossed with fresh basil and mint, coal-roasted Naan bread with burnt tomatoes, red onions, and fresh ricotta cheese…and desserts! Grilling stone fruits such as plums and peaches brushed with honey butter and savory herbs paired with some ice cream is always a great ending to my Fourth of July.”

Doris Choi, Chef at Good Night and Silvia, Woodstock 

“My most memorable Independence Day would have to be in 2013. My daughter was nine months old. She was just about to start walking, and it was also her first time eating watermelon. I have a picture of us looking at each other on that day, both of us chowing down on some sweet watermelon. I wish I could relive that day. I’ll never forget it.”

Frank Camey, head chef at Heritage Food and Drink, Wappingers Falls   

Frank Camey by @DutchessPhotos, Ximena Ubilla

“Fourth of July in Cornwall is a day we and the rest of the town look forward to all year. It is one of few days throughout the year we close the café; we treat it just like Christmas. We spend the whole day with family and friends, grilling BBQ classics like burgers and dogs and bottomless bowls of guacamole. Every year we invent a new cocktail to serve and enjoy during the big Main Street Independence Day parade and the huge fireworks display at night. The secret to any good cocktail is homemade simple syrup and of course, fresh-squeezed fruit juice.”

Josh and Heather Wojehowski, chef and owners at Fresh, Cornwall

“Some of my fondest memories and family traditions back in Buffalo as a child on Independence Day were of my grandfather in his backyard marinating and grilling a Chiavetta’s BBQ chicken dinner along with all the homestyle macaroni salads that my family used to prepare. The smell and surroundings were always something I looked forward to each year and are very dear to me.”

Alex Herdzik, chef at County Fare, Wappingers Falls

“This is the time of year when strawberries are at their peak. I adore buttercream cakes, but on a hot July day, layers of light-as-air sponge cake filled with Hudson Valley whipped cream and fresh local berries macerated in sugar is what I crave.”

Agnes Devereux, The Village TeaRoom Restaurants & Bake Shop, New Paltz 


Related: Where to Watch July 4th Fireworks Around the Valley

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