Chef Tommy Stevens loves to see patrons come into his restaurant and share small plates and good times.
When a group of friends or a family come into Iron and Wine, Stevens, the owner, will encourage them to share their meals and try as much food as possible at the versatile restaurant. For him, there is nothing better than hearing people talk about the different food and what it reminds them of.
Iron and Wine opened in November 2016 after Stevens had been looking for a location for about a year. Living around the corner in Brewster, it was a convenient spot for him to open and offer the county a new cuisine. The menu is essentially New American, Stevens said, predominantly offering Mediterranean food with some Spanish dishes, as well.
“We do flunky flips on traditional recipes,” Stevens said. “I like to take the roots of the recipes from the Mediterranean.”
Before he opened his own place, he ran a kitchen at a tapas restaurant in Dutchess County. While he enjoyed his experience, he wanted to do his own thing.
He figured why put all his energy and effort into another person’s restaurant when he could be doing it for himself.
“Why am I not doing this for myself,” he asked himself before he took out a loan and took a chance.
He’s traveled to different countries like Spain and Italy to pick up new tricks of his trade and recently traveled to Jamaica because he won an award for his jerk sauce.
Stevens had plenty of restaurant experience long before he was ever working with stoves and ovens. He grew up in a family restaurant, Kelties Bum Steer, that was located in Brewster and owned by his father. He was a bus boy and waiter; basically the “anything guy.”
But a fire from a propane explosion that claimed two lives in the 1990s shut the family business down. Since that fire closed the Kelties Bum Steer, Stevens’ family hasn’t all worked together at another food establishment until Iron and Wine opened.
His mother is a hostess on the weekends and cousins will occasionally pop in and out of the eatery, including to help with contracting and maintenance. Stevens’ girlfriend of three years helps run the front of the restaurant while Stevens is focused in the kitchen.
“I enjoy cooking and creating recipes, that’s the best part of the job,” he said.
The name Iron and Wine (a Brewster Chamber of Commerce member) comes from Stevens’ love of cooking with cast iron skillets and the restaurant’s offering of a simple wine bar. It makes incorporating shareable items into every dish easy, he said. (The restaurant has a 56-item menu.)
When Stevens is preparing food, flavor comes first.
“Cook with some soul, don’t read recipe books,” he said. “Cook with flavor, cook with taste. It’s an art form. You’re supposed to operate with a little bit of passion.”