Sous-chefs: The men behind the lines of some of your favorite Edgartown eateries

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Sous-chef John Stonis of the Port Hunter has been working in a kitchen since he was 17. — Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murra

Whenever we feature a new restaurant, we focus on the food, the cocktails, and the executive chef. Often forgotten is the team behind the scenes, the ones that make the magic happen in the kitchen on a daily basis, the ones sweating bullets in those hot kitchens: the sous-chefs.

Today, we’re showcasing four sous-chefs from Edgartown restaurants: the Grill on Main, the Harbor View Hotel, Atria, and the Port Hunter. Discover what drives these guys to become some of the best culinary talent on the Island.

Jon Johnson of the Grill on Main

“If you’re coming in for dinner at the Grill, make sure to get the Chicken Saltimbocca — not only a popular dish for guests, but a personal favorite!”

MVT: How long have you been working at the Grill on Main? Since May 2003, just a couple of weeks after the Grill opened.

How did you get started in the culinary industry? I’ve been baking since I was 13 years old. As an Islander, I’ve worked at plenty of restaurants all over the Island, developing my craft.

What’s your favorite part of your job? The opportunity to be creative and connect with local farms; I grew up eating eggs from Blackwater Farm in Lambert’s Cove, and can make the best deviled eggs with them!

How is working on Martha’s Vineyard different from any other location in the world? The easy access to local farms, the connection to farmers and fishermen at all times.

What’s your favorite food to prepare? Anything with a farm-to-table focus — definitely depends on the season.

What would be your last meal? Spit-roasted lamb. The entire lamb, cooked and charred bits — that’s a meal on its own. And for dessert — whiskey or port!

Marco Porlles of the Harbor View Hotel

“One of my favorite things to prepare is ceviche, and with the amazing access to fresh seafood, it makes my job even easier. Scallop ceviche is one of my current favorites.”

MVT: How long have you been working at the Harbor View? Since June 2013 — before then, I worked at Sushi Samba in New York City.

How did you get started in the culinary industry? Cooking with my mom in Peru, I got the chance to experience hands-on how to cook the food of my country, and developed a love for it.

What’s your favorite part of your job? Learning from everyone that works in our kitchen — everything from recipes to technique. Our staff comes from all over the world, inspiring me to create dishes with hints of cultures. My love of learning comes from my love of teaching as well; nothing gives me more pride than seeing a cook rise up in the ranks alongside our team.

How is working on Martha’s Vineyard different than any other location in the world? Slower pace, a better sense of community. Working in New York, you become a slave to the industry, a robot. Here on Island, everyone is family, and I love that closeness.

What’s your favorite food to prepare? Anything from my home country of Peru — ceviche being my current favorite.

What would be your last meal? A Peruvian classic, “tallarines rojos,” a type of pasta with a red meat sauce. It brings back memories of coming home from school; my mom would have a huge bowl of it already set at the table.

Noah Kincaide of Atria

Being mentored by the great Alice Waters, farm to table isn’t just a trend for me — it’s a way of life.”

MVT: How long have you been working here? This is my 10th season at Atria — crazily enough, Christian [Thornton, Atria executive chef] and I attended the same culinary school back in the day, and didn’t even meet until running into each other at the airport.

How did you get started in the culinary industry? Originally in San Francisco.

What’s your favorite part of your job? I love to cook, period. Not being static, always finding new ways to cook things, and discovering new techniques, pushing ourselves to be the best we can be.

How is working on Martha’s Vineyard different than any other location in the world? Definitely the local farms and fishermen all around us! We get 99 percent of our seafood from the Menemsha Fish House, which we adore. Other farms we use: Mermaid Farm, North Tabor, and Whippoorwill Farm.

What’s your favorite food to prepare? Anything that makes me slow down — pasta, bread, and charcuterie are all things I love to make. It’s like Zen, you know?

What would be your last meal? My mom’s pot roast, slow-braised all day in the big cast-iron pot with carrots, onions, and potatoes; comfort food at its finest.

John Stonis of the Port Hunter

Ultimately, I want to own a deli. A great deli, one with hand-cured meats, amazing sandwiches, the works. Nothing fancy, just good food.”

MVT: How long have you been working here? It’s my second season on-Island. Originally from Arizona, I met Jeremy [Davis, Port Hunter executive chef] while working in Michigan and then Florida.

How did you get started in the culinary industry? I’ve been working in the kitchen since I was 17, and it’s always been in my blood.

What’s your favorite part of your job? The local community, the closeness and ease to access great produce, seafood, and more.

How is working on Martha’s Vineyard different than any other location in the world? The fact that you can drive to any farm on-Island and pick up your daily special for the restaurant! You can’t do that in big cities.

What’s your favorite food to prepare? Tacos al pastor: Growing up in Arizona, tacos were a huge part of my childhood, and making them in the authentic way always brings back great memories.

What would be your last meal? So many things, but the first thing that comes to mind are veal and ricotta meatballs over handmade pappardelle and drizzled with a butter sauce. Decadent and comforting!