It’s 7 a.m. on a warm summer morning and the smell of bacon wafts out the side door of 7a Foods. Chef and owner Dan Sauer stands in front of the stove wearing jeans, a T-shirt, Blundstone boots and his trademark 7a baseball cap, making breakfast sandwich after breakfast sandwich. Most are on 7a’s popular cheddar jalapeno biscuit (created by Brianna Holt, 7a Foods’ second head baker).

The tickets keep coming and Dan works in a kind of jazz rhythm — slicing the biscuits, cracking the eggs, melting the cheese on the egg, frying the bacon. His two helpers, Igor Zaremba of Russia and Ivan Mamic of Croatia (both here on J1 visas), take the building blocks of each sandwich, assemble and wrap them up for customers.

Dan says bring it on to the breakfast rush; 400 breakfast sandwiches, anyone? — Jeanna Shepard

Gavin Smith, one of 7a’s year-round staff members, provides a steady back beat to Dan’s pulse. He chops a giant pile of celery for a fantastically large bowl of tuna salad for their American Tuna wrap. Dan notes that he wouldn’t sell tuna until he could find a company that used the best, most humane and sustainable fishing practices.

Dan spots a regular coming in and immediately slides an egg on the grill for him. “He’s an egg, no cheese, veg on a biscuit.”

Until Dan and his wife, Wenonah [Nonie] Madison, opened 7a Foods in West Tisbury in 2011, Dan had never done what he calls “quick serve foods” before. He says that this kind of food business is “About 1,000 times harder than I thought.”

“I used to spend all day sourcing and preparing maybe 100 dinners. Now I make more than 200 breakfasts [almost 400 at the height of summer] and then it is on to hundreds of lunches.”

As Dan talks, several customers stand by the counter trying to peer into the kitchen window to see if their food is ready. He greets them and calmly flips an egg. The son of a pediatrician and a nurse, Dan grew up in Billings, Mont. His first commercial kitchen experiences were while he was still in high school. He washed dishes at the Northern Hotel in Billings and then got a job working as a garmage chef at Walker’s Grill. Dan was immediately drawn to the entire restaurant kitchen experience — the intensity, flavors, and the all-consuming nature of the craft. After high school, he headed to culinary school in Baltimore, then on to the Culinary Institute of America and then to New York city, where he thrived working ridiculous hours for a very tough boss who was known to occasionally hit his staff.

“My first job was at Oceana. I was 19. I made $65 dollars a shift, lived in the Bronx in an apartment that wasn’t even technically an apartment, and it was unbearably hot that summer — the summer of 1999. I was in way over my head. Every day was a battle.”

Amos, Nonie, Waylon, Dan, and a pet chicken enjoy a bit of downtime. — Jeanna Shepard

Wenonah enters the 7a kitchen with glistening hair (she’s just showered after her 6 a.m. boot camp workout) and a crisp shirt. She greets all the members of the staff, and noses around the kitchen, asking Dan, Igor, Ivan and Gavin what she should bring to eat for lunch. While Wenonah and Dan run 7a Foods together, she also works as the Aquinnah Tax Collector.

After a little more conversation, Wenonah decides to pack up a salad and some meatballs.

“I like a little bit of everything,” she says. But her favorite sandwich is the asparagus melt.

Dan and Wenonah then discuss the coming day and their kids. Waylon, who has just finished third grade and is nine, is on his way to the Heritage Museum and both Waylon and their younger son, Amos, who is seven, have baseball playoffs this week. It should be said that baseball is big in this family. Maybe even huge. Though Dan grew up in Montana, he is a lifelong, devoted Red Sox fan. It seems almost fated that he would end up marrying a woman from Massachusetts and cooking in the Red Sox’s home state.

Wenonah agrees: “Our wedding day? Each of the kids being born? Best days of Dan’s life? No. His best day was when the Red Sox beat the Yankees and won the World Series.”

Dan grins. “It’s true,” he says.

Where everybody knows your name -- Dan and Nonie outside 7a. — Jeanna Shepard

In the summer of 2000, Dan escaped New York and followed his friend and chef Marco Canora from New York to work at La Cucina in Edgartown.

Wenonah pipes in: “It’s where L’Etoile is now. It’s how we met. I always worked up-Island. My mom Angie is from West Tisbury, she’s a Waldron, and my dad Jeffrey [Madison] is from Aquinnah. He is one of Luther’s sons. I grew up here. I was a barn rat at Pond View. I went to boarding school, St. Mark’s and Dartmouth for college, but I always came back in the summers to wait tables at the Home Port. In 2000, I had just graduated from F.I.T. for graduate school in design and I was out of money so I came home for the summer. A friend said, ‘come work with me at this new restaurant.’ So, I went ALL The Way to Edgartown.”

Dan and Wenonah did not like each other at first, but after a summer of working together, Dan decided that Wenonah was the one. Wenonah took a bit longer. “I had a boyfriend and told Dan, I’m headed back to New York,” she says. “I was working in the fashion business at the time and I said, this is never going to work. I work all day and you work all night. But the day the boyfriend came to visit, Dan said to me, ‘it’s all going to work out. I know you are going to pick me.’ And he was right.”

Dan shrugs and chalks this prediction up to “youthful arrogance.”

After that summer, Dan and Wenonah headed back to New York together. Wenonah designed sportswear and athletic wear. Dan helped open Tom Colicchio’s Craft, which won three stars. He then went on to help open Hearth, which was nominated as the best new New York restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. Wenonah would get up at 6 a.m., exercise, go to work, come home, nap and then wake up to go out to dinner with Dan at 12 or 1 in the morning. They say they rarely saw each other.

“Ear plugs saved our relationship,” Wenonah says. “He’d come home at 1 a.m. and be wired from work and want to cook or watch TV and I’d be sound asleep.”

This all changed when Dan got a job as a day sous chef.

Taking care of the chickens now, contemplating another restaurant soon. — Jeanna Shepard

“It literally changed our lives,” Wenonah says. “We got to see each other. Have weekends. Take trips.”

They got married at Quansoo on Sept. 25, 2004. The following winter they ate their way through Asia for four months.

“Then the idea of kids came along and we decided to move to the Vineyard,” Wenonah says. “We thought that cooking and working on the Island might be easier when having a young family than the demands of New York.”

In 2005, Dan became the head chef at the Outermost Inn and in 2008 Nonie got a job as the Tax Collector in Aquinnah and they lived in tribal housing.

While working at the Outermost Inn, Dan began talking to Noli Taylor of Island Grown Schools, Rebecca Miller of North Tabor Farm and volunteering at the Farm Institute, learning from Robin Hosey Athearn about farming — succession planting, crop failure, rotation. The whole idea of working the land, growing his own food and learning how to infuse flavor into vegetables with the dirt you are growing them in appealed to Dan. Because the Outermost Inn was only a four and a half month commitment, Dan had time to begin growing food and selling it too. At first it was basic crops: radishes, tomatoes, beans. Then he and Wenonah began to think about preparing these foods and selling them and the idea for 7a foods was born. For a while, they would just make salads and meals and deliver them to people’s houses, then they graduated to the West Tisbury Farmers’ Market. Then the space where 7a Foods is now, behind Alley’s, became available.

The building had been a car wash, a laundry mat, along with a few iterations of restaurants. It needed a lot of work.

Ross Lamkin, the head baker for 7a, comes into the kitchen to grab some butter from the kitchen’s walk-in refrigerator. He and Dan greet each other with a nod and Ross heads back to the baking area, which is nestled in a nook between the walk-in and the sales counter. Dan’s phone buzzes and he checks it. Rebecca Miller has texted North Tabor Farm’s offerings for the day. Dan writes back, placing his order — mixed greens, squash and kale. He says that his kitchen manager and sous chef Samantha Eng is out today, but that she usually helps him oversee everything.

Liz Lemons and ice pops are hits; next up is 7a Foods cookie dough. — Jeanna Shepard

“I could not do this without her,” Dan says.

“Seriously.” Wenonah adds.

As the morning heats up, more staff members arrive — Vincent Carlomagno and Theo Gude — and don aprons. Dan lets them take over in the kitchen and heads to another set of refrigerators to retrieve some trout that Island Grown Initiative’s Keith Wilda raises on Cape Cod. He wants to smoke it.

“I’m always trying new things,” he says. “Some things work and some don’t. Our Thai salad was amazing, but too many ingredients, 20 or so, and too time consuming to mass produce. The Liz Lemon is a result of me wanting to offer a pastrami sandwich, which is a classic, but I just couldn’t keep up with producing that much pastrami. So one afternoon, when I was home taking care of one of the kids who was sick and I was watching 30 Rock, it hit me. A moment of grace if you want to call it that. So that’s how the Liz Lemon evolved, from a need for a pastrami sandwich that was not all pastrami. It’s our most popular sandwich by far. I’d say people order it three to one on a daily basis. We’ve made up to 147 in one day.”

Dan says he’s also excited about 7a’s new product: 7a Foods cookie dough.

As Dan talks, Wenonah checks the registers, the shelves, talks to the counter staff and greets customer after customer. Then she finds Dan by the smoker and says she is off to go to her other job in Aquinnah.

Dan does a thorough inventory of the dry goods and fresh produce. When he is done, it is time for the kitchen to switch over to lunch. The afternoon rolls on and more Liz Lemons are ordered. But Dan and his staff move into a more mellow pace. They can stop and take a sip of water, eat something themselves, clean the dish pit, assess what needs to be done for tomorrow.

Amos and Waylon at home in West Tisbury. — Jeanna Shepard

At around 4:30 p.m. Dan heads home to spend time with his boys. In 2014, Dan and Nonie bought a house in West Tisbury. Dan is clearing some of the land for a large garden, but at the moment the yard is mostly just scattered with sports equipment — a lacrosse stick, baseball bat, balls — and 10 chickens.

Wenonah is home as well. They have friends coming for dinner, but nothing has been done yet. No one seems particularly stressed or hungry. The four just seem happy to be together.

Dan and Nonie outline their summer plans including Wampanoag language camp for the boys. They also talk about plans for another restaurant. They are actively looking for a location, which will then inform the menu.

Wenonah looks around and sighs. “As you can see, we’re not so good with low key. We do better with the pedal to the metal.”

Daniel Sauer
Profession: Chef/Co-Owner 7a Foods.
Age: 38.
Born: Billings, Montana.
School: Graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1999.
Moved to Martha’s Vineyard: Summer of 2005.
Favorite restaurant: Noodletown, New York.
Cookbooks: French Laundry, Momofuku, New Pro Chef, Maximal Flavor.

Wenonah Madison Sauer
Age: 42.
Born: Martha’s Vineyard.
Schools: St. Mark’s, Dartmouth College; Fashion Institute of Technology.
Profession: Co-owner 7a Foods, Aquinnah Tax Collector, former fashion designer.
Children: Waylon, 9; Amos, 7.
Pets: 10 chickens.