Chef Christopher Neary, 57, has really been cooking lately — and he has come along way since his days as the executive chef at the former East Point Inn Restaurant that used to stand on Main Street and Ocean Avenue in East Rockaway.
“I was sorry to see it go,” Neary said of the popular restaurant that was torn down in 2005. Born and raised in East Rockaway, he worked at the East Point Inn many years, starting as teenager in high school and returning after college to run their kitchen — which he did for about 30 years.
“It was one of the only places to go for fine dining. No one wants to sit and enjoy a meal anymore. The Colwell family gave me my start there … we are great friends to this day.”
Since his departure from the EPI, Neary has had quite the culinary journey and has won numerous awards, appeared on various local television programs, and done some great charity work. He is the American Culinary Federation Long Island Chapter president and executive chef at New York’s largest independent food distributor, J. Kings. In 2004, and was awarded the American Culinary Federation Long Island Chapter’s top honor “Chef of the Year.”
Teaching American culinary history with chowder, clams and corn
Most recently, Neary chosen to accompany the American Culinary Federation’s national president Michael Ty this summer on a trip to a culinary institute in the Philippines to teach the students about New England cuisine. “He is on this trip and having an incredible experience,” said his daughter, Megan O’Brien.
“The trip was amazing,” said Neary upon his return last week. “It was my first trip to Asia. We arrived at the American Hospitality Academy to teach a four-day course on western cuisine in Manila.” Two years ago, the ACF accredited their school, and they were the first outside of the U.S. to be accredited, Neary said. “Their instructor had to pass our tests.”
Neary said that Ty showed the students how to cook Louisiana and Cajun-style cuisine while Neary demonstrated food from New England, giving them some history about the early American settlers, what they ate and how they lived off the land. “We did chowder, clams, corn and potatoes, codfish stew and cakes — and corn relish,” he said.