Rockaway Taco’s shack on Beach 96th Street has gotten a bright makeover in preparation for the start of The Summer Shift. When the shack’s owner, David Selig, learned that his chef Andrew Field was departing to open Tacoway Beach at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, he teamed up with The MP Shift – a budding firm specializing in branding, design, and PR – to come up with a fresh concept. Rockaway Taco is set to return next summer, but in the meantime, The Summer Shift will feature a rotating array of guest chefs exploring their Latin roots (you know, like the Fugazi song).
“The idea is to not just have folkloric Latin chefs,” said Anna Polonsky, who was at Le Fooding before going on to start The MP Shift with Amy Morris. “A lot of contemporary, young chefs actually have a lot of roots in Latin America.”
While Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina (who’s also over at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar) sells paletas from the spot that used to house DiCosmo’s Italian ices, the next-door window will be manned (or womanned) by tag-teaming toques. It all starts Friday with Carlos Varella and sisters Lelya and Ximena Yrala, from nearby Peruvian rotisserie Chicks to Go. Other chefs hail from downtown Manhattan spots Navy, O Café, Comodo, Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, and El Rey (see the schedule below).
“For them it’s super fun to leave the city and come here and they’re kind of showing what they used to eat as kids but they’re giving a twist to it,” Polonsky said.
Morris chimed in: “Also what we love about Rockaway is we keep saying it’s the last place where you can incubate and you can be creative. For a lot of these chefs, they’re in these restaurants and they are stuck to a menu. Here they can come out and try different things and they’re all excited about trying seasonal things that are new with the flavors that they love, from Latin America.”
Here’s a look at the lineup. The Summer Shift, at 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd., will be open on weekends until June 18, when it’ll open daily.
May 22-25, May 29-June 1, June 5-8, June 12-15
Leyla & Ximena Yrala with Carlos Varella (Neighbors)
July 16 – August 11
Camille Becerra (Navy)
August 13 – August 30
Felipe Donnelly & Carolina Santos-Neves (Comodo Al Mar)
May 22 – September 7
Pops by Fany Gerson (La Newyorkina)