If you’re a regular Black Sheep customer, maybe you remember that sandwich from a few weeks ago: thinly sliced grilled beef tenderloin, house-made boursin, dressed arugula and a pile of thin, crispy onion rings on a crusty batard. Yeah, that one.

Or maybe you got the roasted chicken quesadillas with black bean and corn salad and guacamole last Monday. Or the bacon blue burger on brioche on Friday. Could be that you also stopped in for an Asian noodle bowl on Wednesday.

Okay, so you’re not a regular, but now you are really hungry. Need breakfast? How about a classic egg sandwich with bacon and cheese on brioche? Or a pumpkin scone with crystallized ginger and cranberries? Lunch: Kale Caesar crackle breads with crispy Serrano ham or Thai sweet chili peanut chicken wings? Dinner: definitely the fresh ham steaks (from local pig farmer Fork to Pork) with smashed red potatoes, honey mustard and buttermilk biscuit. But maybe the herb-roasted half chicken. And we’re just hoping those flash-fried Brussels sprouts with a citrus caramel sauce show up again soon.

Thanks to Chef Judy Klumick, it’s hard to find anything on the Black Sheep menu that doesn’t sound (and taste) delicious. That’s why it’s not surprising to find her at the end of the day surrounded by scads of yellow legal paper with lists of daily specials scribbled on them. She’s got one of those brains that whirls around in constant motion; only it never strays far from food and cooking.

“One day I just sat down and wrote down everything we’ve done as a special,” she said during a recent interview. “We do really, really interesting food up here. I try not to get in that rut where you’re just making the same stuff every day."

“Up here” is Black Sheep Mercantile at the airport, where Black Sheep owner Mark Venette transformed the former Hot Tin Roof space by installing a big kitchen and a beautiful storefront that sells not only Judy’s prepared food and Black Sheep’s signature charcuterie and cheeses, but also home goods and groceries. Black Sheep Mercantile opened in 2018.

In 2014, Mark hired Judy, who cooked for twelve years at Morning Glory Farm, to develop the prepared food end of his business in what was then his only location — a small shop in downtown Edgartown on North Summer street.

“I met Mark during the St. Patrick’s Day parade and we just hit if off right away,” Judy said. “He was looking to expand from charcuterie and cheese, and I told him my specialty was prepared food.”

Cooking on an induction burner in a tiny kitchen, Judy managed not only to deliver daily specials and fill a small prepared food case every day in the summer, but also to create, along with manager Patti Canha, a fall and winter “luncheonette” in the store for Islanders to gather for soups and sandwiches, crackle breads and salads — whatever she made that day.

“I loved the luncheonette in that space,” Judy said. “There was just something about a whole bunch of Islanders crowding in there on a cold, blustery day with the windows steaming up...”

The downtown Black Sheep closed for the season in September this year, but the off-season luncheonette lives on in the airport location, and started up again in early October with the return of chairs and tables inside the store. And while the space isn’t as cozy, the thrill of finding something new and delicious every day from the restlessly creative recipe box inside Judy’s head is still there. One day it’s braised beef chili with pasilla peppers; the next it’s chicken, ricotta and kale meatballs.

Susie Middleton

“I just told Mark the other day, 'We’ll never have a set menu!' she said. “We have about thirty things that we will always do, and there are some we have to have every day — our Black Sheep chicken salad, our tuna salad, sesame noodles, grain salads, salmon, shrimp — but I’ll always be moving in and around those things.”

For instance, one day the shrimp is tandoori grilled, another day it might be Thai sweet chili.

Now that Judy is stationed in a much bigger kitchen, Black Sheep can also do more catering, and Mark and Judy can expand on some things they tried last year, like a Thanksgiving menu. Right now they’re finalizing the list of this year’s Thanksgiving offerings, which will include whole roasted turkeys and gravy as well as Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, green beans almondine, dressing with or without pork sausage and all kinds of other vegetables and desserts.

Surprisingly, twenty people ordered whole-roasted turkeys last year. Mark was concerned about how they would reheat, so he called some friends at a catering company he had worked at and they recommended sending every turkey out with a quart of stock and instructions to reheat the turkey in a pan with the stock in it, tented with aluminum foil. Apparently it worked, he reported, after being in the store all of Thanksgiving Day — there were no phone calls.

The holiday season presents another opportunity at the spacious Black Sheep Mercantile: company holiday parties. Since the store closes at 6 p.m. (it opens at 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed Sunday), the space can be used for evening parties, and several holiday gatherings are already scheduled.

Next summer, more catering will likely be on the schedule for Judy. It’s a bit of a dance, she admits, making the food for both the downtown Black Sheep and Black Sheep Mercantile (the prepared food case holds sixteen different dishes every day, and that doesn’t include “gallons and gallons” of dips, spreads and soups sold in the reach-in refrigerators), as well as filling the catering orders. This summer, she had two great kitchen assistants, in addition to a baker and a sous-chef, but the pace was still crazy.

But Judy’s been cooking for thirty-five years, and when she’s not, she’s fishing (the Derby right now), reading food magazines and cookbooks, following food TV and looking for new local food sources. In other words, thinking about food.

When asked what it is that makes her such a great cook, she said, “I don’t know, but I really like what I do. And it bothers me when people are cooking professionally and they don’t really enjoy it. It shows. This is a business of feeding people. You’ve got to love it.”