The story of how executive chef Scott Grewe found his way to the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah is a very Vineyard tale involving Caribbean waters, friendly neighbors on the next boat over and a web of friendships between homeowners on distant islands.

For the last two summers, Scott has worked as Outermost’s executive chef and he and his wife Elizabeth have called the inn their home. The spacious, sun-filled kitchen gives him views of big sky and the backyard’s osprey pole. Some days the sunlight can be blinding when it hits a sauté pan at a particular angle.

A kitchen with expansive views is rare in the professional experience of this young chef who has put in years at kitchens ranging from Chili’s to his own fine dining establishment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Venison is a new menu item for the fall. Jeanna Shepard

Scott grew up in Florida where he began working in kitchens at age 13 as a dishwasher. After working at chain and Italian restaurants, he decided to “do it right” and attend cooking school. Tuition a challenge but loans made it possible for him to attend Florida Culinary Institute. “At school, I was surrounded by people who were excited about cooking and who were nerding out on what the newest restaurants were, what the trends were and where they were going to go after school. I loved it,” he says.

After seven years at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Scott began cold calling Michelin-starred restaurants in New York city, asking to do a stage (unpaid internship). An offer to stage at Jean-Georges led to stages at other legendary restaurants such as Le Bernardin – and then a permanent job offer from Jean-Georges.

Scott worked hard there for a year and a half before Chef Marcus Ware – known in these parts as executive chef at Greydon House on Nantucket – brought Scott in as a sous chef at Aureole, a fine dining restaurant in the Theater District. “Marcus took me under his wing,” he says. “He trusted me and let me create menu items. I was there for three years and it was a great experience.”

Sous-chef Connor Murtagh (right) has been working with Scott since Manhattan days. Jeanna Shepard

An investor seeking to open a brownstone-based fine dining restaurant in one of Manhattan’s most exclusive neighborhoods sought out Scott to be the chef. Having his own place appealed, and Scott opened Sutton Inn in 2014. But he didn’t anticipate how consuming the endeavor would be, despite the small, focused menu and neighborhood vibe.

“It was hard,” Scott recalls. “I was cooking and general managing. I had a little workshop upstairs where I was curing meats and charcuteries. We adopted a no tipping model before Danny Meyer did and people just didn’t agree with it. Everyone quit.” Scott recruited friends to work as wait and kitchen staff, and even served tables himself.

Scott and Elizabeth began preparing for the next phase of their life: restoring a Contest 36 sloop to live aboard. For two years, the chef woke at four a.m., took a train from East Harlem out to Stamford, Conn., worked on the boat, returned to the city and did full dinner service at Sutton Inn. When the restaurant closed in 2019, the Grewes took the opportunity to follow their dream and set sail for California.

At one stop in the Caribbean, they were anchored next to friendly neighbors who mentioned Hugh and Jeanne Taylor. The Taylors, they said, were always on the lookout for outstanding kitchen talent. Through those friends, Scott also learned an odd coincidence: he’d previously anchored right in front of the Taylors’ own Bahamas property for a while. The Outermost – and Martha’s Vineyard – seemed to be in his future. He helmed the Outermost kitchen for the summer of 2021 and returned for 2022.

A summer-into-fall menu includes venison and sea scallops. Jeanna Shepard

The Outermost is perched north of the Gay Head Cliffs. Hugh and Jeanne Taylor are its longtime property owners and established the inn 30 years ago. Daughter Alex Taylor manages the restaurant business. Dinner is a three course, prix-fixe menu. The Taylors give the chef few mandates – a steak item and a lobster item are the only requirements – leaving plenty of room for creativity.

Scott designs his menu with what’s fresh and available. There’s enough consistency to please diners returning for an annual visit and enough variety to delight the regulars who have standing reservations once a week. He’s excited about what’s been available this year through the MV Seafood Collaborative, and he loves having access to items such as fresh nasturtium blossoms, grown by Gabby Camilleri in Outermost’s garden.

Scott is quick to praise the talents of his kitchen team, from sous chef Connor Murtagh – who’s been with him since Sutton Inn – to pastry chef Liz Anderson to Island-based dishwasher Omar Pravia Saborio, who Scott describes as having washed “every single dish” in the Outermost building. “Connor and Omar are my rocks,” he declares. “It’s literally impossible to do what we do without those two people.”

Inn proprietors Jeanne and Hugh Taylor provide housing at the Outermost for the kitchen staff, including executive chef Scott Grewe and his wife Elizabeth, and sous-chef Connor Murtagh. Jeanna Shepard

Bringing the talented kitchen crew to the Vineyard wouldn’t be possible without a major perk offered by the Taylors: on-site housing. “The Taylor family is amazing. They treat us extremely well,” Scott offers.

On an early September evening, the Outermost menu was full of reminders of the change in seasons. Scott and his team had just shifted into a menu that retained summer ingredients – lobster, scallops, swordfish, herbs – but that were joined by autumn flavors. A crispy lobster fondue featured hearty chunks of lobster meat in a feuille de brick wrapper atop a rich sauce of melted gruyere, butter and apple, topped with fresh frisee. A new dish featured triangular towers of venison accompanied by sweet potato puree and ruby red, perfectly circular cranberries. From the dessert station, Liz scooped out mulled wine sorbet, combining the iciness of summer with deep, rich tastes of fall.

As the Outermost team makes preparations for the last dinner service of the season, Scott’s thoughts turn wistfully to what’s ahead. It’s not the next meal or kitchen but the 1,500 miles he and Elizabeth expect to log while sailing their boat over the winter. He probably won’t mind its galley kitchen and he’ll certainly enjoy the adventure.

Elizabeth Bennett is community editor for the Vineyard Gazette.