Reporting with the Starr Fuentes |
When customers walk through the door of The Pie Hole in Farmingdale, Caribbean and R&B music sweeps them into chef Marc Anthony Bynum’s world.
And then there’s the menu — featuring innovative island-themed delights the likes of a Billy Ocean-inspired “Caribbean Queen” pizza, blanketed with jerk chicken, grilled pineapple, fried plantains and hibiscus barbecue sauce.
“The Pie Hole is different,” Bynum said of the restaurant located at 850 Main St. “You’re not going to see jerk chicken, collared greens or short rib on nine out of the 10 pizzerias out here.”
Bynum’s pies come fully loaded with staples of his Marc Bynum Concepts (MBC) brand, from duck confit and kimchi to lobster and candied kumquats. Keeping with his taste in music, the “Earth, Wind and Fire” slice boasts charred root vegetables and Brussels sprouts and his earthy, mushroom-loaded psychedelic pie features ricotta, roasted black garlic puree, smoked Gouda, fontina and truffle cheese.
Bynum, a three-time champion of the Food Network’s “Chopped” competition, plans to kick off the new year with pasta options and even more of his Marc Bynum Concepts creations beyond what most Long Islanders might expect from an Italian spot.
“It will be an Italian spot, but we might have oxtail ramen coming out,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. It’s just a food space. People can’t get hung up on the names and see pizza ovens.”
Cooking up community
For Chef Bynum, connecting with his community and helping it thrive is priority number one.
“The grand scheme is to teach kids that look like me how to cook, and bring up the next generation of chefs,” he said. “To educate my people on food is very important, to educate young men and women how to take care of themselves is important, and we don’t have a lot of representation.”
Before opening The Pie Hole, Bynum was simply seeking a warehouse space, a spot to house his Hush truck and grow a self-sustaining rooftop garden. He still plans to secure such a space, which he needs not only expand his brand’s reach and influence, but start a new chapter in his life.
The three-time “Chopped” champ hopes to reach young people with potential through his “From Guns to Butter” program, in which he immerses children in the culinary arts.
“In the next five [years] I’m done as far as the day-to-day grind goes,” Bynum said. “I want to build my MBC Brand.
“And once we do that then I can continue to grow the business and put people in place to run it,” he continued. “I don’t think that I’m the best chef — there’s somebody (better) out there. And I want to find them.”
Photos taken by Starr Fuentes and Nicholas Grasso.
Top photo: Chef Marc Bynum works dough for a classic cheese pie at The Pie Hole at 850 Main St. in Farmingdale.