From community service to food service

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Sometimes, your best, happiest self comes out making food.

Regina Hunt is known for her volunteer involvements: Greater Bellport Coalition, South Country Library and South Country Board of Education trustee and Long Island Head Start board member. While love for community was up there, she enjoyed cooking with her partner, Paul Coffey. And therein was the impetus for P & G Specialties LLC.

That stands for Paul and Gina, as her friends call her.

“We have a relationship,” explained Hunt. “I would cook and he would cook, and we would cook together. Friends would say, ‘Oh my God, everything is so good.’ So after 10 years we said, ‘Let’s get together and try it.’”

Coffey’s signature dish: “I make black beans with a sauce, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables,” he said. “That’s one of my specialties.”

“He’s the bean king,” Hunt added. “He makes it with meat or without. A lot of times, we have a pan of rice as a side dish. I’m the empanada queen.”

Hunt’s empanada offerings include a ground chicken one with her own spices and four cheeses.

Trust us. The empanadas are superb.

As Hunt says, it’s comfort food with a twist.

Hunt and Coffey are currently looking for a space to launch their food business.

“We were with [Greater Patchogue Chamber president] Dave Kennedy for an hour yesterday,” Hunt said, adding that they’re joining a lot of chambers. “We’re applying to the Stony Brook incubator program.”

Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director Dave Kennedy confirmed he took the couple for a tour last Wednesday. “I took them to the main business district on East and West Main Streets and South Ocean Avenue. The place they seemed interested was the space next to That Meetball Place and we got them the contact. There was also a spot on the corner of East Main Street and Rider Avenue. They provided these wonderful empanadas for Tracy Todd Hunter’s Of Colors Creative Collective event for several years, and I was fortunate to try their food. Regina's been instrumental with Of Colors and other organizations, and I think they’d be an excellent addition.”

Recipes are from Hunt’s grandmother’s, which are tweaked, and their own creations. “Paul makes the dipping sauce for the empanadas,” Hunt said.

Their food has already garnered fans. “We did a pop-up at Unique Tastes in Ridge, a wine and liquor store that had a bourbon and tequila tasting, and we did the food,” Hunt said. 

“It was a smash,” Coffey admitted.

“I got a catering job the next day,” Hunt reported.  “I have another catering job tomorrow. I did speak to Debby Loesch with Angels of Long Island to do a pop-up there and sell meals. We’re looking to do more pop-ups, and ultimately, for a turnkey space.”

“For catering, we can make anything,” Hunt said. “The empanadas I make in different sizes and Paul makes ribs. I do a dish from my grandmother, chicken Divan, and my grandmother’s Mississippi cornbread. We have a catering menu, over a dozen specialties, but we can make anything.”

Their black T-shirts said it all: P & G Specialties LLC, and their logo, a heart with a whisk, fork and spoon.  Their motto: “We put the special in specialties.”

Former Bellport residents, they now reside in Mastic Beach.

A fundraiser for their business with a portion donated to childhood cancer is scheduled for Sunday, July 24, at Comfort Inn, Medford, Route 112, near the Long Island Expressway.

“My uncle Dwayne Kerr, the flutist, will be there (Kerr has toured and recorded with four-time Grammy-winning R&B soul artist Erykah Badu),” Hunt said. “People can eat, network, and shop with the vendors.” Tickets are $25 admission for the fundraiser, including P & G Specialties LLC food. For more information, for tickets, or catering, call: 934-386-1585.

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