Good fortune and a gift certificate landed me in a seat in the dining room of Alchemy restaurant Saturday night a few weeks back. I was happy to be out to dinner and arrived with no particular expectations. But as I read the menu, my heart began beating a little faster. And then down at the bottom left corner, I noticed the name of the chef: Erin Clarke. Hmmm, exciting — a new female chef in town.

While it wasn’t until after dinner that I learned Erin has been a bright spot on the Washington, D.C., culinary scene for many years — most recently as executive chef for Fabio Trabocchi’s osteria Casa Luca — the menu gave her away as a skilled chef adept at offering familiar food with an interesting twist. And by the time I had finished eating — clams bruschetta with garlic, chili and parsley; goat cheese salad, Harry’s strawberries, pistachio granola; spring rabbit roulade with saffron, Romesco, and wild spring onions; olive oil poached halibut with wild mushrooms, English peas, and periwinkles — I felt sure her arrival on the Vineyard was a very good thing for people who love delicious food. (No, I didn’t eat all that myself; my omnivorous dinner date, who also had the filet of beef tenderloin primavera style with a sea urchin and quail egg raviolo and spring vegetables, helped of course.)

Meeting Erin confirmed my hunch: She is a passionate cook with a vivacious personality to boot. In a quick interview, I learned how her style developed over years working for her mentor Trabocchi (the chef-owner of six D.C. restaurants), especially at Casa Luca, where the food was based on the Marche region of Italy on the Adriatic coast. And it was there that she began to meld her own cooking style with Trabocchi’s influence.

“My food is based on classic technique, but with my own perspective. I always try to bring something a little surprising to the table. I really want to put plates out where there is something super familiar about it — or it’s something you really want to eat — but maybe it’s a little surprising,” she said.

“Everything has to be super delicious,” she went on, noting that if they don’t love making it in the kitchen, that’s a sign. “We always tell the cooks that if you don’t love it, the customers won’t love it.” Erin gets excited about seasonality, and she is always open to what purveyors offer her, even if it is something she hasn’t cooked with before.

Mark Alan Lovewell

Now that Erin is cooking at Alchemy — a partnership with new owner Todd Dagres and former owners Scott and Charlotte Caskey that she calls serendipitous — she is also conscious of incorporating local seafood and Vineyard ingredients into her menu. Menemsha Fish House offered her the East Coast sea urchin, which is how the raviolo with the filet combined to offer a subtle surf and turf nod. And she’s quickly getting to know her resources on the Island. Jefferson Munroe at The Larder is breaking down whole spring lamb for her so that she can use every part — not just the rack and the loin, but all the other meat, which she transforms into tiny lamb meatballs for a lasagna with sheep’s milk ricotta.

“I hate wasting things. That was something ingrained on me first by my mother and secondly by Fabio,” she said. “But that’s how it should be. Because that’s where the creativity comes from. My cooler is a source of comfort for me. I love to be in there organizing, because that’s where I get ideas and see possibilities.”

Possibilities. Lucky for us, Erin Clarke’s arrival in Edgartown isn’t the only good news on the Island’s culinary landscape this year. We’ve got the whole season to taste and sip, but here’s a quick look at some of the highlights.

More in Edgartown: chef-owner Michael Brisson is putting the finishing touches on a new, bigger bar at l’etoile. Construction this winter also created a designated entrance for the restaurant, separate from the Sydney Hotel, which is completing an addition on Winter street. The new bar will offer both more room and extended hours for hanging out and enjoying the bar menu, and also a few more seats to enjoy the full menu. Over at Lighthouse Grill at the Harbor View Hotel, chef Richard Doucette is debuting a new concept with an increased influence on local sourcing.

And in Oak Bluffs: The big news this season in Oak Bluffs is the opening of chef Ben DeForest’s second restaurant, The Cardboard Box on Circuit avenue (in the space previously occupied by Down Island restaurant). Ben and his wife Erica have transformed the space into a lively eating, drinking and music spot open from 6 p.m. to last call Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to last call on Sunday. In addition to dinner, drink and brunch menus, there is a late night bar menu that includes items like Papa’s Got Brand New Box — Cool Ranch Doritos, Pulled Pork, Cheese Fondue, Grillo Pickle Chunks, Sour Cream, Beans and Tomatoes. If early evening is more your style, expect great steaks sourced from Reliable Market’s Bob Pachico as well as fresh fish, crab cakes, cod cakes, mussels, lobster pan roast, and plenty of sides, veggies, and Erica (the Tiny Baker) DeForest’s amazing desserts.

Up Kennebec avenue, chef Josh Aronie (who still runs The Food Truck with his wife Angela) is now manning the stoves at Offshore Ale. And at the other end of Circuit avenue, Toccopuro coffee of Edgartown has opened up a beautiful Oak Bluffs shop. Toccopuro does both hand drip and syphon coffee (and cold brew tea) in addition to all types of espresso drinks, and can offer you a brew from single source beans pretty much however you like it. The shop also makes smoothies and shakes; they have bubble tea for the kids and they offer both breakfast pastries and sandwiches for lunch.

In Vineyard Haven: At Garde East, chef Carlos Montoya’s outstanding menu has a few new additions, including lobster cavatelli with black trumpet mushrooms, cauliflower and a lobster reduction. The restaurant added to its wine collection over the winter and will debut a series of winery dinners this season, starting with Betz Family Winery on June 18. At Beach Road, chef André Garza is excited about a new cooking tool: a Japanese Konro grill, now very popular with chefs for its precision and the high quality of charcoal it uses.

Heading up-Island: Out at the airport (yes, technically Edgartown), we’re eagerly awaiting the opening of Black Sheep’s second location. Chef Judy Klumick reports that the commissary kitchen (which will supply the first Black Sheep in Edgartown) is nearly done, and they anticipate the whole market to be open the third week of June.

In West Tisbury, chef Augustus Paquet-Whall is settling into his second season at State Road and is introducing his own charcuterie program. And in another good sign that gifted young chefs are committed to the Vineyard, chef Chris Gianfreda, who cooked on the Today show last October, is back for his third season at the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah. His menu puts local shellfish and fish (as well as uber-local vegetables when available) front and center, and includes both rustic and refined influences from Gianfreda’s cooking stints with chef Jeans-George Vongerichten in New York, chef Frank McClelland in Boston, and chef Susan Spicer in New Orleans.

Stand by for more food news and an endless (we wish) summer of possibilities.