// LET’S EAT! COMFORT FOOD, SWEET TREATS & MORE pg. 68 //
greetings! INSPIRED SEASONAL DESIGN BY LIFESTYLE EXPERT MAR JENNINGS
THE JOY OF DESIGNER SAM ALLEN’S FESTIVE HOLIDAY HOME FLOWERS AND GREENS FOR A BEAUTIFUL CELEBRATION
CHEERS TO LOCAL HEROES OF PHILANTHROPY AND VOLUNTEERING
just for you
NOV/DEC 2021 | $5.95
A SELECTIVE GIFT GUIDE TO THE MOST STYLISH FINDS
LOVE IN VERONA COLLECTION
contents NOV/DEC 2021 vol. 23 | issue 6
departments 12 EDITOR’S LETTER
by diane talbot sembrot
15 STATUS REPORT
CAUSE AN EFFECT
BUZZ The Mozy; GlossLab; Rowan; Kerri Rosenthal; Emily Liebert picks books that make great gifts; plantbased eating; Save the Children’s critical work now
Meet the generous and talented honorees of our annual recognition of philanthropy and voluteerism. by ji l l joh ns on m an n
SHOP Special Section! Holiday Gift Guide
GO Luxe travel abroad; the retro, coastal charm of Surfside Hotel
TIME TO EAT Looking for something sweet, something filling, or maybe a little of each? Westport’s got it.
DO Workouts with Nicole Glor
by e l i z a bet h k eyse r
HOME Blossom + Stem; Mar Jennings on holiday design; Sam Allen’s inspired seasonal decorating
Stamford has a new community: The Village— and it’s purpose is nothing short of transforming Fairfield County.
52 MONEY MATTERS
Smart financial moves now 95 INDEX OF ADVERTISERS
by c h ri s hode n f ie l d
96 POSTSCRIPT by d onna mof f ly
on the c over | mar jennings’s rosebro ok gardens | photo gr aphy contributed top: Arrangement by Blossom + Stem above: Holiday cookies baked up fresh by It’s Lauren, of Course!
WESTPORT NOV/DEC 2021, VOL. 23, NO 6. WESTPORT (USPS/ISSN 1941-9821) is published bi-monthly by Moffly Media, Inc., 205 Main St., Westport, CT 06880. Periodical postage paid at Westport, CT, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes (Form 3579) to WESTPORT, PO BOX 9309, Big Sandy, TX 75755-9607. U.S. Subscription rates: $19.95/1 year, $34.95/2 years; Canada and Foreign $44/1 year, $72/2 years. westportmag.com
COOKIES BY LAUREN BRAUN COSTELLO; FLOWER ARRANGEMENT BY MICHELE SINACORE
EAT It’s Lauren, of Course!
CREATORS AND CONNECTORS
singular in design “Edgy incarnations of luxury” Condé Nast Traveler
digital content & MORE
WESTPORTMAG.com CELEBRATING THE SCENE STEALERS
LET’S BE FRIENDS! Show us your love and us on social!
ENJOY OUR ARTICLES AND POSTS ON INSIGHTFUL LOCALS WHO HELP US ALL LIVE BETTER
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Find out about store openings, see what’s coming up in the magazine, and enjoy photos of iconic places around town— follow us on Instagram, Like us on Facebook. Together, we make living here the best!
PLUS! LIGHT A FIRE
Join us DECEMBER 2 for the most inspiring event of the year as we thank those who volunteer and give back! Get details and tickets at ilovefc.com/lightafire
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THE BEST ORTHOPEDICS BY FAR IS RIGHT HERE. Hospital for Special Surgery and Stamford Health have teamed up to bring world-class orthopedic care closer to you. Our team of experts remains dedicated to making safe, responsible musculoskeletal care available – wherever you are. To learn more about our in-person and virtual appointment options, visit HSS.edu/StamfordHealth
HSS Stamford, 1 Blachley Rd, Stamford, CT 06902 Most major insurance plans accepted. New patients welcome.
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LET’S CELEBRATE E
HOW TO SCAN: OPEN, AIM & TAP
Also, the holidays are about food. While I’d like to say I’m not tempted by the good eats around the holidays, it’s just not true. Westport is quite the food destination, and whether a filling dish of comfort food or a sweet treat on the fly, temptations are everywhere. I asked writer Elizabeth Keyser to walk the local food scene to bring our readers up to speed on Westport offerings. She said yes before I got all the words out. That’s because there’s always good restaurant, cafe and shop news around here. It was a tough call to determine who to focus on. We can’t include everyone, but the piece does show that there’s plenty of additions to an already delicious scene. Inside, you’ll also find holiday design and gift-giving ideas. We include decorating tips from professionals, including Mar Jennings, Sam Allen and Michele Sinacore (owner of Blossom + Stem), who all insisted (rightly) on keeping tips practical and simple—decorating for the season should be joyful, not stressful, after all. Consider their tips as a confidence booster for your own creations. As for gifts, we loved stopping into shops to see what you’ll want to add to your wish list. While I could easily be a professional shopper, morning to night, some might prefer to use our guide as a very informed short cut to great finds. If nothing else, let it—you guessed it—inspire your ideas. All in all, I hope this issue finds you well and eager to celebrate the season!
SCAN TO VISIT US
ach fall I wait to see if I’m going to fall under the spell of the season. Will I get that pumpkin spice coffee, wrap chunky knit scarves around my neck, light up the firepit and put on some music while catching up with my best friend. Or...will I not. Will I not want to decorate or sing along to holiday tunes? I thought about it. I much prefer to get all caught up in the season’s best— catching leaves or snowflakes on my nose— and I realize it’s up to me. Catching the spirit can be a decision. With that in mind, I have added every bell and whistle I could think of to these pages to bring you along for a holly-jolly ride. One of the biggest parts, of course, is giving, through philanthropy and volunteering— helping our friends and neighbors and people we will never meet or know what we have done for them and, as important, what we wish for them. I am regularly impressed by the outstanding donations people make at fundraisers, and I can’t image how many hours go into helping local nonprofits. Someone always steps up and says, “Yes, I can do that.” When that happens, someone else notices and might soon help in some way, too. Our first feature, Light a Fire, is all about that inspiration through example and the warmth of sincerely helping others. This year, we tapped eleven locals on the shoulder and surprised them with recognition for the contributions they make to improve the lives of others. Of course, none of them want the spotlight. We often have to remind them that by coming forward, they are being generous—allowing others to be inspired by their initiative.
GRAZIELA Introducing our new range of Graziela jewelry. Exotic, precious and true, each piece a treasure and keepsake carefully crafted, exquisitely designed and conflict free. W W W. H C R E I D J E W E L E R S . C O M T . 2 0 3 - 2 5 5 - 0 4 4W 7 W | W 1 5. H 9 1C RPEoI sDtJ E RW o aE dL ,E R F Sa .iCr O f iMe l d , C T 0 6 8 2 4
Celebrate the spirit the seaso with us at Westport Museum!
A Christmas Carol Live Dramatic Reading
k c o R l l e B e l g n Ji Family Day Holiday Tuesday Treasures
Outdoor Winter Market
buzz STATUS REPORT
TOASTY WARM WESTPORT’S GETTING CHILLY, BUT THIS WRAP KEEPS YOU COZY b y d i a n e s e m b r o t
PHOTOGRAPHY: MOM AND DAUGHTER AND WOMEN AROUND FIREPIT BY BARBARA MAJESKI; COUPLE ON BEACH BY ANDREW MUSE PRODUCTION; BAG, COURTESY OF MOZY
ou put down a pretty penny to build out the back property. And why not? Covid restrictions kept us home, so, logically, it was time to make it attractive and comfortable, including outdoor spaces to entertain friends. But now the weather is turning and getting downright frosty. Not to worry—light up the firepit and wrap yourself up in a mozy (getmozy.com). It’s a weatherproof lower-body wrap that conforms to you, so you stay warm and dry as that north wind chills the air. The wrap comes in a lightweight fleece option (for slightly nippy days) and a nylon version (to take on eyebrowraising temperature dips). The Mozy fastens at the waist, so your hands are free to hold a mug of hot cocoa and your legs are free to move. Aside from being weather-resistant, it’s also designed to protect against those pesky rivulets of cold air that always seem to find a way in with a regular blanket. The local company behind the Mozy hopes people also use it for sporting events, replacing stadium blankets. Any parent who has attended a fall football game or day-long rowing regatta might give it a chance. “It all started when I was at an outdoor soccer game bundled up. It was a windy, freezing day, and the
left: The Mozy blanket is adjustable to allow for different levels of warmth—wear at waist, zip halfway down or fully right: The blanket includes extras, like a carabiner for holding keys, passes or other accessories. below: Fasten it snuggly all the way to your ankles for extra protection.
metal bleachers were too cold to sit on,” said Charles Shertz, owner of Thermic Innovations LLC, based in Westport and notes that its reason for being is apparel to help people live warmly. “I noticed other parents, even those with stadium blankets, struggling to stay warm. I knew this exposed lower body made up almost half of the body’s surface area and that there had to be a better way to enjoy outdoor events without freezing or running back and forth to the car to warm up.” Customers can even customize their Mozy with patches. What do you think—let it snow?
left: Enjoy extra warmth at get-togethers in the fresh air
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
SHINY & NEW
3 NEW WESTPORT SHOPS TO HIT AROUND THE HOLIDAYS b y j a n e l a l e x a n d e r
No. 1 J E W E L R Y
No. 3 B E A U T Y
A newcomer to Westport is offering a special gift box for the holidays. rowan, a jewelry shop and subscription service, looks to honor the earring experience by offering hypoallergenic piercings performed in shop or at home by licensed nurses. Westport is its second outpost, with piercing-studio locations offered at select Targets across the country. For the holiday season, it is offering a subscription box from celebrity designers Sara and Erin Foster of the TV series Barely Famous, including their signature whimsical studs— perfect for a first piercing or upper-ear add on.
Commitment can be challenging. Commitment to gel nail color can be downright excruciating. glosslab, a modern, hygienic, non-waterbased nail salon by membership offers a grand alternative to the dreaded chipping or fading that happens if you wait too long. When the holidays have you too crazy to make it into the salon, pick up a take-home gel-eraser kit to safely remove the holidays Scarlet Starlet and replace it for a more soothing Ballet Slippers.
left, top: Imperfect Heart Cashdana and sweater in Dusty Lilac above: Beanie with Patchwork Love Long Cardigan and Smiley top left: Cheeky sweater in indigo, KR Woven and Jogger in Alpine
No. 2 A C C E S S O R I E S
above: Inside the Westport studio—fresh, bright and clean right: You’ll find the Rowan shop on Main Street
Who couldn’t use an extra dose of positivity at this chaotic time of year? Just head over to the “Queen of Hearts” home base, kerri rosenthal’s sleek new Westport space at 181 Main St. Pick up a unique gift for yourself or spread some style with a special gift from this Westport native whose lines you may have seen in the Hamptons this summer. KR is expanding ever still to Shopbob and an instore accessories shop at Bloomingdales NYC. Pop a block of love from the life-size gumball machine as you say “you knew her when” and pick up a unique piece from her collection, including quilted coats and hats, luxe knitwear and happiness-infused accessories. This new space provides quintessential gifting for your mother-in-law, tweenager or even long-lost cousin. Everybody’s happy! westportmag.com
above: Glosslab’s Mani Rescue Kit to remove polish, file and re-polish right: Choose color and top coats for longlasting manis below: Nail Tool Kit for gift giving to nail fans
GLOSSLAB IMAGES COURTESY OF GLOSSLAB; OTHERS, CONTRIBUTED BY BRANDS
estport will be ready for you, holiday shoppers. Many of the empty spaces of a year ago are now filled in, and beautifully so. It’s taken downtown up a level, including new service-oriented businesses, making for great shopping and getting prepped for get-togethers. Here are three places to add to your list…
WINTER WONDER GIFTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
99 FRANKLIN ST, WESTPORT, CT 203-635-8383 • EVBANTIQUES.COM
THE GIFT OF READING
BOOKS FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST, INCLUDING YOURSELF by emily liebert
’Tis the season to curl up by the fireplace with a stack of good books—they also make great gifts for family and friends of all ages and interests. So check out our holiday roundup of eleven standout titles. There’s a little something for everyone on your list…whether they’ve been naughty or nice.
ROMANTIC So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park When investment banker Jessie Kim is laid off because “she’s already being overpaid anyway for a woman” and “Asians are worker bees, not someone who can drum up new deals,” what ensues is a young Korean-American woman’s journey to find a new career in cooking, while unexpectedly falling for her childhood rival. Foodies will rejoice!
THRILL SEEKER My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle Exactly what is Jade’s husband, Cam, not telling her? Everyone is about to find out in this gripping tale of domestic suspense about a “happily married” couple whose world is turned upside down by a masked home invader who knows their darkest secrets. Hold on tight…this one is a twisty rollercoaster ride.
Never Fall for Your Fiancée by Katy Birchall Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, does not want a wife. Too bad his mother is determined to find him one. Fortunately, she also lives across an ocean, so he just invents a fake fiancée to satisfy her meddling ways—until he finds out she’s on her way to visit him in England. But, just as his lie is about to be exposed, he meets a woman who’s willing to play the part…though, can they really trust each other?
HISTORY BUFF Designing Camelot by James Archer Abbott and Elaine Rice Bachmann Sixty years later, the Kennedy White House is still known for its style, mostly due to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s impeccable
taste. This book, originally published in 1998, has been expanded to include first-person reflections, personal and public correspondence, media accounts, anecdotes, photographs, a detailed room-by-room analyses of the restoration, and insights
into Kennedy’s personal choices. Released on her birthday, by the White House Historical Association (which she founded), it features a foreword by her daughter, Caroline Kennedy.
FILM & TV ENTHUSIAST How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy by Lynette Rice Over fifteen years after its premiere on ABC, the editor-atlarge at Entertainment Weekly brings fans the first inside story of one of TV’s most watched and cherished dramas. Rice takes readers on an unauthorized journey from the show’s modest beginning, revealing exclusive behind-the-scenes details about all of the tear-jerking departures and controversial plotlines. But What I Really Want To Do Is Direct by Ken Kwapis Who doesn’t love a memoir from an award-winning film and TV director (The Office and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, to name two)? Kwapis, a thirty-year
Hollywood veteran, divulges what it takes to succeed in the frenzied world of entertainment, as he talks about his struggles, common industry myths, budget battles, volatile actors, and the passion that perseveres.
by forty-nine acclaimed authors (including me!), for the price of one? Nothing, as Owens— celebrated podcaster of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books— well knows. The mother of four (ages six to fourteen) has amassed this extraordinary anthology to help others feel understood, inspired and less alone. The supershort essays, all by previous guests on her podcast, were inspired by things moms don’t have time to do: sleep, get sick, write, lose weight and see friends. You won’t know whether to laugh or cry!
FOODIE The Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François On the heels of a year-plus-long pandemic, more than ever, people are excited to bake their own bread in the simplest way possible. That’s why Hertzberg and François have selected their favorite eighty recipes from their past five books (nearly one million copies in print!). This single, comprehensive volume includes whole grain loaves, pizza and flatbread, brioche and challah, sourdough, gluten-free recipes, and so much more. It also boasts new tips and techniques that will make everyone look like a pro in the kitchen.
YOUNG ADULT If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich When eighteen-year-olds Ruben and Zach, members of America’s biggest boy band, fall for each other romantically while on their first sold-out European tour, they’re forced to keep their relationship hidden in order to maintain their all-important image of teen heartthrobs. But, behind closed doors, their once-easy relationship is cracking under the stress of fame and the pressure to stay in the closet. The question is: How can they remain together when the whole world seems to want them apart? KID The Last Super Chef by Chris Negron For middle graders, even those reluctant to read, Negron’s books are complete with complex and thoughtful boy protagonists who are not averse to exploring their emotions. Curtis Pith has always wanted to become a chef like his long-absent father, Lucas Taylor, host of Super Chef. So
PARENT Moms Don’t Have Time To Have Kids by Zibby Owens What’s better than fifty-two essays
when he finds out that Taylor is doing a kids-only season of the show, Curtis sees it as an opportunity to finally meet his dad. Although he does land a spot in the competition, nothing goes according to plan. Everything rides on the last challenge, which could afford him the top prize… and the truth.
Gigi at the White House! by Giovanna McBride; illustrated by John Hutton When Giovanna “Gigi” McBride visited her mother, Anita McBride, at work, she went to The White House! As Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush, Anita was able to share this unique and treasured experience with her daughter, who’s now passing on her own memories from when she was four-and-a-half to eightand-a-half years old in her new children’s book. Through vibrant illustrations by artist John Hutton, Gigi’s favorite stories—from the Oval Office to special occasions like the Easter Egg Roll, Fourth of July, Halloween and Christmas— are all included!
Love Where You Live! The people here are so special both the staff and friends I’ve made. - Ellie D.
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PLANT POWER A NEW BOOK BY DR. KATIE TAKAYASU PROVES THE HEALING POWERS (AND DELICIOUSNESS) OF VEGGIES by li z barron phot o gr aphs by j ul ia d 'ago st ino
iving a plant-forward lifestyle is something that Dr. Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., M.B.A. (aka Dr. Katie) ,not only preaches, but also practices. “Food truly is medicine, and it either helps bring us toward our goals or away from them,” says Dr. Katie, who practices integrative medicine with Stamford Health, serving patients both virtually and in-person at her offices in the Tully Center in Stamford. Her practice combines traditional Western medicine with acupuncture, mind-body medicine, supplements, nutrition and lifestyle optimization. “Every single thing that we put into our body is informing it of what we want it to do. Just like a car, if we want it to operate at maximum capacity, we need to give it premium gasoline.” While Dr. Katie’s new book, Plants First, releases this month and is based on her medical knowledge, it is written from a uniquely authentic place. In the first chapter, she delves deep as she details her past battles with weight, body shame, mental health, sleep issues, infertility and managing chronic pain. Overweight and on a diet for many of her early years, Dr. Katie says she never felt truly comfortable in her own skin. Her struggles continued throughout medical school and residency and eventually began to impact her mental health, leaving her depleted, anxious and depressed. Dr. Katie’s then boyfriend (now husband) convinced her to try a yoga class one evening, and she quickly found herself feeling
better than she had in months. It was then that she knew it was time to make some real changes. As she increased her workout routine over time and balanced her nutritional needs, Dr. Katie says she began to notice all of her ailments easing. “It takes about two to three months of consistent efforts—not to be confused with perfection—to notice biochemical changes, which means your body righting the wrongs,” she explains. Dr. Katie stands by massive amounts of research that proves that plants are the most nutrient dense foods to heal and fuel the body. When it comes to the way that the body responds, between the balance of fullness and nutrition, choosing plants is always going to westportmag.com
above: Dr. Katie believes in the healing power of a plant-based lifestyle. below: Plants First releases this month.
Six tips to keep your health in check as you hit the holiday celebrations
No. 1 Save room for dessert Have Grandma's decadent apple crumble pie or the rich sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping. Enjoy it. Savor every bite. And then move on with your life knowing that you had exactly what your heart wanted.
Dr. Katie with her husband and sons at home in Darien.
be the most efficient and effective choice. Dr. Katie sees herself as a “co-healer” in wellness and aims to take into consideration the different ways that her patients really want to live their lives. Thus, her holistic approach focuses on the entire mind/body/spirit connection. A plant-based diet can aid in healing of hormonal imbalances, inflammation and numerous other medical issues, she stressed. Eating the wrong foods can negatively impact both our physical and emotional health and by listening to what Dr. Katie calls our “wellness intuition,” we can learn to understand what feels good and start to honor it. We can all fall prey to patterns of all or nothing when it comes to diet and exercise, which tend to leave us exhausted and burned out leading to unhealthy decisions, she says. By learning to listen to our “wellness intuition” we can move more smoothly toward a lifestyle of moderation. “You’re only as far away from wellness as your next choice,” reminds Dr. Katie. Speaking of choices, in addition to her book, Dr. Katie has also developed a detox program that is available in both five-day and 10-day resets with optional meal delivery and the goal of refreshing both our brains and bodies. For more information or to purchase the Dr. Katie Detox, visit drkatie.com/dr-katie-detox . Plants First will be available for purchase beginning on November 9 at Barrett Bookstore in Darien or on drkatie.com/plantsfirstmag.
Don't drink too much water when eating Dr. Katie recommends drinking most of your water in between meals, early in the day. Too much water at meals dilutes stomach acid and digestive power and leads to excess bloating.
No. 3 Savor your ONE glass of wine or cocktail Women's livers can only tolerate one alcoholic drink a day, and more than that leads to poor sleep, hot flashes and weight gain, Dr. Katie says. “I know I sip my one drink so much differently if I know there’s not another one coming around the bend.”
SPICED APPLE & GINGER TODDY
Cozy up and detox with Dr. Katie’s good-for-the gut non-alcoholic hot holiday drink of choice
Don't over-exercise the day after to make up for your indiscretions “I'm a proponent of working out at a level of 6/10 on the expenditure scale,” she says. “Super intense workouts where you are completely out of breath and dripping sweat release stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine that make it even tougher to manage blood sugar and energy because it sends the body into a state of stress.”
Ingredients 1 bag honeybush, hibiscus, or turmeric tea 1 cup hot water 1 to 2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar Juice of ½ lemon 4 shakes ground cinnamon 2 shakes ground nutmeg 2 shakes ginger powder Drizzle of honey For garnish: 1 apple slice or lemon wedge 1 cinnamon stick Directions Using a 12-ounce cup, steep the tea according to the package directions, keeping the cup covered to retain heat if you’re serving a hot toddy. Add the remaining ingredients to the cup and stir. Garnish with an apple slice or lemon wedge and a cinnamon stick.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
No. 5 Take a walk within two hours of a meal Studies are conclusive that movement after a meal enhances blood sugar metabolism, reduces insulin secretion and decreases weight gain. “At my Thanksgiving, we all takea nature walk in the woods behind my house,” Dr. Katie says.
No. 6 Eat "linner" with an intermittent fast If you want to dip your toe into intermittent fasting, instead of skipping breakfast and eating all of your calories late in the day, consider an earlier dinner instead. “One of my favorite Sunday traditions is a 3:30 p.m. family dinner, which allows me a 16+ hour fast until breakfast on Monday morning,” she says.
left to right: Elementary school students participate in a health and nutrition game during Save the Children’s Summer Boost Camp • Jocelene makes a drawing during the Healing and Education Through the Arts (HEART) program • Joan Panagos (fourth from left) at a Save the Children benefit in Fairfield • Save the Children Trustee and actress Jennifer Garner outside Save the Children programming for Afghan children and families in northern Virginia
n May 6 more than 100 humanitarians embarked on a new adventure as they touched down in a plane in South Sudan, hopped on a bike and headed for the local school—all from behind their computer screens at home. For the Save the Children Fairfield County Leadership Council (FCLC), adapting its service trips to a Covid-safe virtual environment to deliver charitable aid was critical. The organization prepared a film crew in order to produce an intimate experience that would take donors and interested members around the world to see the impact of their donations. Since its inception in 2016, its active core of sixteen have raised funds and awareness in the community as well as helped Save the Children provide life-saving humanitarian
aid around the world. “The response was overwhelming,” says Ann Marie Miles, senior director of individual philanthropy with FCLC. Over the past year, Save the Children’s efforts in South Sudan reached more than 790,000 children, providing basic services, including food, health care and education opportunities. Some were former child soldiers, so childprotection programs helped to rehabilitate these traumatized youth thanks to a 2019 expansion of the Healing and Education through the ARTS (HEART) program— allowing participants to reclaim their childhoods. Along with addressing children’s well-being, Save the Children also launched family-tracing and reunification technology capable of connecting local police authorities
and aid organizations with community leaders to identify these children in real time. This system improves their long-term protection. For those participating in the virtual trip, such as FCLC Co-President Joan Panagos, seeing work in the field—delivering food, school supplies, medicine and other essential health and education infrastructure— highlighted the organization’s invaluable contributions to local affiliates. “This gave them the ability to understand, contribute and know that Save the Children already had the resources on the ground, knew how to get whatever the people needed and knew how to deploy that very effectively and quickly,” Panagos said. “You’ve got to bring a lot of tissues with you because you just see the great work they’re doing. It’s so lovely.”
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF SAVE THE CHILDREN
SAVE THE CHILDREN ADAPTS TO VIRTUAL REALITY, BRINGING HOPE AND HUMANITY TO CHILDREN IN CRISIS by margot mather
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF SAVE THE CHILDREN
CLOSE TO HOME The Fairfield Leadership Council recognizes urgent needs in the United States, too—the virtual trip on August 25 focused on rural Tennessee and Kentucky and the need for enhanced early-childhood education. As its education programs moved online, Save the Children established a remote Summer Boost Camp to address learning losses. In these communities, food insecurity is coupled with the digital divide (a lack of stable Internet connection and access to technology). Some homes visited on trips are without basic resources, including books and technology for the children. According to Save the Children’s global 2020 survey, 80 percent of parent or caregiver respondents believe that due to the pandemic and limited resources at home, their child has “learned little or nothing.” Save the Children’s troubling statistics inspired an outpouring of support and contributions from the Fairfield County community. “People felt this pent-up desire to help. We were all closed in, and they saw what was going on around them and they really wanted to get involved,” Panagos said. “We give people the opportunity to do whatever they want and help as much as they can.” Save the Children revealed a shocking statistic: An estimated one in six American children is projected to be experiencing food insecurity in 2021 due to Covid, compared to one in seven children before the pandemic— and it has disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic children, whom Save the Children identified as being twice as likely as their white peers to face hunger this year in the United States. “People realized how children were really victims of Covid-19. They’ve lost their education. They’ve lost their health. They’re losing their parents,” Miles said. “The pandemic brought to light the deep inequalities across the world, but also even in our own country, where the most vulnerable populations were really impacted by this crisis.” Panagos said many in the Fairfield community reached out to the FCLC to contribute to food-aid efforts: “The teachers and the social workers who work with the program will tell you that the two meals that the children get there that day are probably the only two meals they’re having. If it weren’t for Save the Children, they would have nothing there.”
BIGGER PICTURE Miles shared the grim reality of children out of school in developing countries: “They’re not just missing learning, the girls are being married off. Child marriage spiked again, child labor, trafficking. It’s really lifethreatening in other countries. School is a form of protection for these children. It doesn’t just help them realize their future, it helps them stay alive today, so it’s really one of our most important priorities.” According to Save the Children’s 2020 Global Girlhood Report, 2.5 million more girls are expected to be married in the next five years, but the organization helps children and their community by providing access to food security, livelihood assistance
above: Children in Save the Children’s sponsorship program play outside during recess at summer camp in Tennessee.
and child-protection programs aimed at identifying and protecting at-risk youth. The programs provide a path outside of child marriage through access to practicalskills education, in such areas as carpentry, agriculture, tailoring and masonry. With training and equipment, more families are taking the opportunity to create small businesses. The organization also supplements this work with advocacy for children’s rights at the national, state and local levels of government, including leading a national minimum age for marriage. THE GIVING KEY Save the Children’s efforts are possible in part because donors participated in the annual gala on November 19, 2020, held virtually because of Covid-19 restrictions. “A lot of philanthropists rise to the forefront in
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
Fairfield County and really have been by our side when the need was there,” Miles said. “We are so fortunate to have a donor base made up of good, compassionate people who want to make the world a better place.” Local teen volunteers also help. The Fairfield County Youth Leadership Council organizes and coordinates service trips. According to Bernie Park, founding president of the FCLC and current Executive Committee member, the council worked with twenty-three students representing eight schools in the 2020–21 school year. Their focus on early childhood education and issues such as gender equality and border advocacy aligns with the virtual trips. Save the Children’s ability to tap into local youth resources as well as growth in local Fairfield participation have been paramount in its effectiveness during multiple crises, including the devastating 7.2 magnitude August earthquake in Haiti, which killed 1,900 people. With personnel on the ground in Haiti since 1978, the organization was well positioned to meet the needs of the ravaged community. Aid workers and an Emergency Health Unit Team delivered lifesaving supplies, including nutritional meals and infant-care kits, mosquito nets and sanitizer. It also provided temporary tarpaulin tents as violence in the streets threatened. According to the Save the Children Haiti Earthquake Report: “We are responding quickly to help children and families who have lost everything. [...] Our staff see children crying in the street.” According to Leila Bourahla, Save the Children’s Haiti Country Director, “It is clear that this is a massive humanitarian emergency. We must respond quickly and decisively. Children are always the worst affected and I am very concerned about their immediate safety.” The organization and the FCLC is guided by the core mission. “Responding to crises is what Save the Children does,” Miles said. In fundraising and providing aid at home and abroad, the organization has prevailed through difficult times with a sense of determination and hope. For Panagos, this comes from a simple truth donors and members share: “No matter where you are in the world, parents want the best things for their children, and just want them to be healthy and happy and go to school.”
sh p by naomi swanson
LORO PIANA Cashmere Cape; pricing varies based on fabrication and trims. Greenwich, Westport; mitchellstores.com
holiday FINDS ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF DESIGNERS/BRANDS
The season’s hottest gift for everyone—and everything—you love
LIDAY GIFT GUIDE
JL ROCKS Randi Link Chain with the Katie Carabiner; $1,875. Greenwich, Westport, jlrocks.com
RESTORATION HARDWARE Heathered Cotton Cashmere Pajamas; $149. Greenwich, rh.com
JUDITH RIPKA Vienna Stirrup Cuff, $1,450. judithripka.com
DAVIDOR 18k Rose Gold L’Arc de DAVIDOR Ring; $11,050. Greenwich, betteridge.com
UNSUBSCRIBED Oversized Cashmere Cardigan; $350. Greenwich, Westport, unsubscribed.com
LOEFFLER RANDALL Doreen Floral Clutch; $325. Darien, dariensport.com
SARAH VENTURA Signature Black Diamond Bangle; $6,000. Westport, sarahventura.com
NIC & ZOE
Your wish list just got a little longer
Color Splash Cardigan; $168. Westport, nicandzoe.com
ROBERTO COIN Diamond Flower Circle Hoop; $2,750. Fairfield, hcreidjewelers.com
shop / H
LIDAY GIFT GUIDE
tailored FOR HIM
VACHERON CONSTANTIN Historiques American 1921; $36,800. Greenwich, manfredijewels.com
BVLGARI MAN Black Eau de Parfum; $148. Norwalk, nordstrom.com
From date night to game night in, these gifts have him set for every occasion
LEDBURY Tangier Gray Kingstowne Kudu Leather Boot; $425. ledbury.com
GIANT TranceX E+ Pro 29 1 Electric Bike; $6,250. New Canaan, newcanaanbicycles.com
BLADE & BOW 22-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; $1,099. barmywines.com
Terrace Outdoor TV (available in full or partial sun); from $3,499— $12,999. samsung.com
RAG & BONE Commuter Overnighter Large Duffle Bag; $695. rag-bone.com
DAVID YURMAN Pavé Streamline ThreeRow Band Ring with Black Diamonds, $2,950. Westport, lbgreen.com westportmag.com
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF DESIGNERS/BRANDS
Christmas Intarsia Shawl Cardigan; $3,295. Greenwich, saks.com
LIDAY GIFT GUIDE
JULISKA Le Panier Delft Blue Pitcher; $98. juliska.com
OOMPH Social Lights refillable lighters; $49. Greenwich, oomphhome.com
L’AVANT High Performing Dish & Hand Soap Duo; $54. lavantcollective.com
White Marble Glass Domed Cheese Board; $50. Westport, potterybarn.com
in a PINCH
Long Brass Äng Vase by Eva Schildt; $185. New Canaan, designstore. theglasshouse.org
MARK & GRAHAM Oak Paddle Shot Set of 12, fully monogrammable; $150. markandgraham.com
Hostess-ready gifts that are sure to get you invited again
SERENA & LILY
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF DESIGNERS/BRANDS
Avery Alpaca Throw in coastal; $398. Westport, serenandlily.com
JOHN DERIAN The John Derian Sticker Book; $35. johnderian.com
TERRA DELYSSA Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil; $16.50. Westport, Greenwich, balduccis.com
8 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
shop / H
LIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2 1
CROSLEY Switch II Entertainment System; $170. burkedecor.com
Dinamica Plus Fully Automatic Coffee & Espresso Machine; $1,500. Westport, williams-sonoma.com
STAYcation! Make your home as upscale—and fun— as your favorite boutique hotel
CRATE & BARREL Foosball table; $999. Westport, crateandbarrel.com
MITCHELL GOLD & BOB WILLIAMS Jade Marble Bar tools; $100. Greenwich, mgbwhome.com
Folded Leather Baskets; $88–$98. Westport, shopterrain.com
BEY-BERK Wooden Multi-Game Set; $180. neimanmarcus.com
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF DESIGNERS/BRANDS
Herrinko mugs, set of four; $50 (new store opening in Westport this February), oka.com
APRIL 5 – 23, 2022
AUG 23 – SEP 10, 2022
NEXT TO NORMAL
The 2009 Tony Award®-winning hit musical and winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Two unlikely roommates — 21-year-old Leo and his feisty 91-year-old grandmother Vera — infuriate, bewilder, and ultimately find each other in this funny and moving play.
MUSIC BY TOM KITT BOOK AND LYRICS BY BRIAN YORKEY DIRECTED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY MARCOS SANTANA
MAY 24 – JUNE 11, 2022
STRAIGHT WHITE MEN BY YOUNG JEAN LEE DIRECTED BY MARK LAMOS
BY AMY HERZOG DIRECTED BY DAVID KENNEDY
OCT 18 – NOV 5, 2022
FROM THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA BY DR. ENDESHA IDA MAE HOLLAND
A father and his grown sons gather on Christmas Eve for pranks, Chinese takeout, and gossip. But when an impossible question threatens the festivities, they’re forced to face their own identities.
This Pulitzer Prize-nominated play about one woman’s journey out of Mississippi offers us a gripping tale of resilience and the human spirit.
JULY 5 – 23, 2022
SEASON TICKET PACKAGES ON SALE nov. 9!
CONCEIVED BY RICHARD MALTBY, JR. AND MURRAY HORWITZ DIRECTED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY CAMILLE A. BROWN
The Tony Award-winning musical celebration as you’ve never seen it before! From in-demand director/choreographer Camille A. Brown.
WESTPORTPLAYHOUSE.ORG All dates, titles, and artists are subject to change.
| 203 227 4177
Welcome back to laughter, to drama, to connection, to the unexpected... Welcome back to everything you love about live theater.
A stunning view of Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls, otherwise known as Mosi-oaTunya, one of the seven wonders of the world
by kim-marie evans
Glamorous Globetrotting T
here was a time when long-haul travel meant steamer trunks, bespoke transportation and a sense of unbridled excitement. There were no maddening crowds fighting for space, no wasted hours in check-in lines, just five-star service effortlessly delivered in the wildest reaches of the globe. For those looking for luxury in unspoiled nature, we found two fabulous, curated offerings.
TWO COMPANIES THAT ARE TAKING TOUR TRAVEL TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL
above: A suite at the Matetsi River Lodge below: Four-star dining along the river
A SAFARI LIKE NO OTHER For big game without the big crowds, Roar Africa and its founder Deborah Calmeyer escort just ten guests aboard a specially outfitted Emirates A319 jet for the safari of a lifetime. (Upcoming trip is August 26 to September 7, 2022.) Roar is the first and only company that Emirates has allowed to customize an aircraft. The inaugural Greatest Safari on Earth embarked in August of 2021 and was a huge success. But at $125,000 per person, it doesn’t come cheap. It’s fitting that such an overthe-top travel experience begins with a stay at the glittering Bulgari hotel in Dubai. Guests then board the customized Emirates jet, along with Deborah and her expert team, including Dr. Ian McCallum, renowned poet, conservationist and psychiatrist, and Dr. Lucy King, a zoologist. The first stop is in Zimbabwe to visit one of the world’s seven wonders—Victoria Falls,
The luxury of this experience is matched only by its intention to support local communities and wildlife. Deborah and her team have long been committed to conservation, humanitarian work and economic education and development in Africa. Conscious that flying on the new A319 Executive Private Jet creates a significant carbon footprint, Roar Africa ensures the entire trip (flights and on-the-ground emissions) are carbon-neutral with high-quality offsets. Environmental projects that were funded from the inaugural journey include the installation of sixty-nine solar panels in Rwanda, the planting of 1,300 trees, access to fresh water for 3,000 Kenyans and donations to Rhinos Without Borders in Botswana. Deborah reflects on her venture: “Witnessing the transformation of our guests as they were immersed in the wilderness reaffirmed the importance of returning humans to wild spaces. It’s my sincere hope that this journey will inspire a new wave of responsible tourism to Africa. The enormous pride and unending hope of the African people in each country made us all the more aware of the essential role tourism plays in Africa, and I can’t wait to do it all over again in 2022 and 2023.”
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
otherwise known as Mosi-oaTunya (The Smoke that Thunders). Lodging is at Matetsi Private Game Reserve, which sits on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. All meals are included, and each suite has a private plunge pool to refresh after a day of adventure. Days are spent on game drives at both Matetsi and the nearby Moremi Game Reserve. One day is set aside for a riverboat cruise along a private stretch of the river, which is home to the hippos, exotic birds and crocodiles. Also, expect to see vast elephant herds wander down to the water for a drink as you float past. Next stop is the Xigera Safari Lodge, located in a quiet corner of Botswana often referred to as Africa’s “Last Eden.” At Xigera (pronounced Kee-jeera), you create and curate your own dining experience. The talented chefs have an “anything, anytime” approach. Whether it’s a bush breakfast or a picnic on your private deck, the chefs are always happy to oblige. The third stop is perhaps the most extraordinary. You’ll camp at Angama Mara, which is located high above the floor of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The lodge takes its name from the Swahili word for “suspended in midair.” The camp is a collection of tented suites overlooking Kenya’s Maasai Mara, considered the loveliest game reserve on the continent. You can choose to drift across the Mara in a hot air balloon, take a walking safari with the local Maasai, or enjoy a picnic in the same location where scenes from Out of Africa were filmed. Here is your chance to witness a portion of the “Great Migration.” This is the journey of millions of wildebeest, accompanied by zebra, gazelles, elands and impalas, that stampede about 1,800 miles in search of greener pastures. Pure magic. The last stop at Singita Kwitonda in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, allows guests to observe endangered mountain gorillas. About 600 mountain gorillas, which make up more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, live in the area of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. The trek to meet the majestic beasts is considered one of the most dramatic, thrilling and poignant wildlife experiences.
above: Amangiri, Utah left: Amanyara, Turks and Caicos
COMING TO AMERICA(S)
below: Amangani, Wyoming
Prefer to adventure closer to home? This January, Aman Jet Expeditions is launching its “Adventures in the Americas” journey. Fourteen guests will be whisked from one Aman resort to the next by private jet. Instead of searching for the Big Five game animals, you’ll hit the Big Four luxe resorts: Amanera (Dominican Republic), Amanyara (Turks and Caicos), Amangiri (Utah) and Amangani (Wyoming). The fourteen-passenger excursion departs on January 23 and
of Amanyara, a secluded resort in Turks and Caicos. The resort is an 18,000-acre nature reserve overlooking half a mile of the North West Point Marine National Park. Here, you’ll explore the surrounding cays on a private yacht, hike with a naturalist, learn to kite-board or explore the coral reefs and marine life with the help of a motorized Seabob-jet. Leaving the lapping waves of the Caribbean behind, the next stop is the American desert. Guests are taken from the Bombardier jet to the famous Amangiri hotel via helicopter, following an aerial tour of the Grand Canyon. Once settled, there are options to explore the majestic setting with a three-canyon hike (led by a Navajo guide), horseback rides and trips out to Monument Valley or Zion National Park. The journey wraps up in Jackson Hole at the Amangani resort, the perfect place to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. In addition to daytrips to the parks to spot wildlife, guests enjoy activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, dogsledding, snow coach tours, and photography workshops. Need more adrenaline? The hotel can also arrange heli-skiing and helicopter photo flights over Yellowstone. left: Amanera, Domincan Republic
returns February 4, 2022. Cost per person: $69,888. The journey begins in the Dominican Republic at Amanera, an ultra-luxe resort tucked between the ocean and the rainforest overlooking the sands of the Playa Grande. Guests can horseback ride through teak forest plantations, take a ceviche cooking class, wreck-dive in turquoise waters, kayak through mangrove forests, explore colonial Santo Domingo and learn the Dominican art of cigar rolling with a maestro. The next leg is to the white sand beaches
John Pizzarelli Big Band
SUNday, JAN. 30, 2022 | 3 p.m.
World-renowned guitarist and singer, John Pizzarelli,
live events return 2022
has established himself as a prime contemporary interpreter of the Great American Songbook and beyond. He’s joined by his big band to fill the Quick with songs that will have your toes tapping and your heart feeling full.
The best is yet to come!
The Quick is excited to announce that we are back and in-person in January 2022. Tickets go on sale to Quick Members Monday, November 29. General Public
The best is yet to come!
FRIday, MAR. 11, 2022 | 7 p.m.
Sales start December 13. Acclaimed speakers, dance, music, theatre, circus, The Met: Live in HD, and more are
Cameron Carpenter is the
just around the corner. Learn more at
world’s most visible organist,
the first ever to be nominated for a GRAMMY Award for a solo album. In this unique and intimate concert experience, Cameron will perform on the Saugatuck Congregational Church organ – and will once again prove why he’s described as “The Maverick Organist” by The New York Times.
above: A quiet seat outside the restaurant or have your order brought to your room (here, Mike Hoer of Little Pub)
The New Beach Retro Chilling out at the new SURFSIDE HOTEL on Connecticut’s coast
he newest location of the Little Pub group is a little different than the other five. For one, it’s attached to a twenty-nine-room hotel. It was a move that Doug Grabe, the owner, wasn’t quite expecting to make. In 2019 the first ever Little Pub location in Ridgefield was up for a lease renewal that ultimately fell through. Doug, in an attempt to find a home for his restaurant and the employees who worked there, started the hunt for a new location. He was introduced to a beautiful space, right at Point No Point Beach in Stratford. “The hotel and the restaurant came together; it wasn’t one or the other,” said Grabe. He thought about it and figured this was his best shot at getting his people back to work.
“Well, if you ever wanted to get into the hotel business,” he shrugged his shoulders and laughed. Grabe has a vibe that matches the Surfside Hotel—mellow and cool. He tells the story of his newest endeavor while sipping a coffee on the boat-shaped bar. Behind him are windowlined walls that make a spotlight of the beach horizon. Even though this Little Pub is similar to the other locations as far as menu and service, the feel is quite different. “This location didn’t quite lend itself to timber beams and reclaimed wood,” Doug says. As for the Surfside Hotel, it is nothing short of Instagram-worthy. It has a retro-beachy vibe designed to make you feel like you’re in Montauk or Nantucket, but without all the traffic and travel. The space was designed by
RESTAURANT BY ADRIANA REIS; WAITER BY TAKE AIM PHOTOGRAPHY
by georget te yac oub
top: Wrap up and enjoy fresh air at the beachfs bottom: Coffee station set for the morning
Beachfront ground-floor rooms have sliding-glass doors and private patio
FAMILY BY VERONICA LOLA GRIMM PHOTOGRAPHY; ROOM, COFFEE STATION AND CANDLES BY TAKE AIM PHOTOGRAPHY; MASSAGE BY ADRIANA REIS
bottom, left: Candles for sale at the hotel bottom, right: Massage is a collaboration with Arogya
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
og Q&A with designer L A U R A G R A B E
GET THE BEACH VIBE Love the look of Surfside and its seasonless coziness? To reveal the magic that makes it work, we went to the designer —and now we want that look at home by diane sembrot
How do you describe the style? “Laid back, beachy, irreverent and je ne sais quoi.”
above: Guest room reveals a mix of "roadside" with "upscale" for a unique (and relaxed) look
above: The second-floor rooms have a sliding glass door and walkout porch with 180-degree views of Long Island Sound
above: Decorative chair in a Sunset View room
How can one create the feel at home? “Porch paint unsightly wooden floors high-gloss white; replace any cold icky lighting with something that casts off an interesting light pattern; and a collection of old-school paintings is always a good idea—one can be weird, several make it intentional and a statement.”
above: The Lordship family suite has two queen beds and plenty of space
above: Surfside Rooftop King room with surf-community vibe
Any local stores typically carry things that work with this look? “For incredible lighting, glassware, rugs, pillows and other decorative smalls from all over the world, hit KNOCK ON WOOD in Norwalk. These guys are also fixtures at several huge flea markets locally and in Texas. Which brings me to flea markets, where we found most of the vintage seascapes and other unique touches in the rooms. Locally we hit ELEPHANT’S TRUNK, MONGERS MARKET and BRIMFIELD in Massachusetts. There is nothing better than finding something you didn’t know you needed or wanted but now have to have.”
LEMONS BY ADRIANA REIS; ALL OTHERS BY TAKE AIM PHOTOGRAPHY
Laura Grabe, Doug’s sister, who runs a local design firm called El Co (elcohome.com). The hotel’s rooms are sun-drenched and airy, oftentimes leading to a private porch with a perfect view of the surfside. When asked about what is next for him and his team, Doug said the goal is to keep improving on amenities and activities. “While the hotel and restaurant are completely different businesses, they are both hospitality, so what you’re trying to do is make people happy,” he says. “As long as we’re having fun and making people happy, we’ll keep going. If that ever stops, it’s time for us to check out.” The Surfside Hotel is located at 10 Washington Parkway, Point No Point. Visit the website (thesurfside.com) to book a room, check out the many hotel-sponsored events (like outdoor movies and yoga on the beach), or even shop Surfside’s cool merch—hoodies to stemless wine glasses.
So, what are the elements that define it? “Evoking every little thing we love about the beach—and, boy, do we love the beach—we embraced lots of neutral organic texture with rough sewn cedar shiplapped walls, raw teak wood side tables, natural fiber area rugs, washed linens and lambskin throws. We then mixed in a few subtle pops of washed out, beachy color in cactus silk pillows, vintage seascapes and African indigo fabrics. For the exterior, we embraced the retro ‘50s motor-lodge vibe and painted the building white with light turquoise accents complete with a pink neon sign that reads, ‘I quit.’”
487 East Main Street • Mt. Kisco, NY
LN# WC17260-HO5 CT HIC.0560846
From our doors to yours . . . wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season
We design and build high quality wrought iron gates and railings, wood gates and fencing, automated gate systems, security cameras and entry systems, handcrafted stone walls, pillars, stairs and patios. see our gallery of pictures at grandentrance.com
Westy Mover Concierge For over thirty years, Westy Mover Concierge has recommended select movers to thousands of customers in order to make their moving experience pleasant and at reasonable cost. Westy does not charge movers for the service, but insists that they satisfy our customers.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
do by nic ole gl or
’ll admit, even as a fitness instructor, just researching and writing this story was a little depressing. But if you do a little writing of your own in a Thanksgiving exercise journal and add the “two-a-day” football trick, reading it doesn’t have to get you down. Before you turn the page in a huff, hear me out. It’s hard to believe, but according to the Calorie Control Council (a trade group that studies Thanksgiving over-indulgence), the average person eats between 3,000 to 4,500 calories in one Thanksgiving meal and about 230 grams of fat. Walking off a 3,000– to 4,500–calorie feast takes about ten hours for a 180-pound adult. Jogging off the meal takes about six hours, or about five hours of high intensity interval training (HIIT). It sounds daunting if you leave it all for Black Friday. So, my advice is to break it down into smaller workouts throughout the week. Here are some helpful tips. westportmag.com
FAHRWASSER - STOCK.ADOBE.COM
FIGHT HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN WITH A FEW SIMPLE TIPS AND TRICKS
od THANKSGIVING DISH-TO-EXERCISE BREAKDOWN APPLE PIE (1 slice) 411 calories 5K Turkey Trot (35 min.)
PUMPKIN PIE (1 slice) 316 calories Yoga (60 min.)
BUTTERED ROLL 210 calories Flag Football (20 min.)
TOP ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: KIEFERPIX - STOCK.ADOBE.COM; GPOINTSTUDIO - STOCK.ADOBE.COM; KZENON - STOCK; BOTTOM: ADOBE.COM ALLIANCE - STOCK.ADOBE.COM
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE (1/2 cup) 200 calories Spinning (18 min.)
TURKEY BREAST (6 oz.) 195 calories Ice skating (50 min.)
EGG NOG (1/2 cup) 190 calories CrossFit (13 min.)
STUFFING (1/2 cup) 180 calories Stair running (10 min.)
CORN BREAD (2 oz.) 160 calories Swimming (15 laps)
RED WINE (6 oz.)
FOR MODERATE EXERCISERS
If you don’t generally work out much during the week, try walking an hour in the morning and an hour at night (a “two-aday workout” like the football players do) Monday through Friday of Thanksgiving week. Make it fun by treating yourself to an audiobook while you stroll. The new habit might just stick, and you can finally start that gentle workout routine you’ve been putting off.
If you currently work out three days a week, consider doing your normal cross-training routine early in the day and adding an hourlong afternoon jog with weightlifting or body weight intervals daily during Thanksgiving week.
150 calories Walking (35 min.)
MASHED POTATOES (1/2 cup) 120 calories Weight training (35 min.)
HOW DO YOU GET INSPIRED? Keeping a journal and enlisting a workout buddy are two great ways. Add one to ten things you’re grateful for in that journal to help stave off holiday stress.
GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE (1/2 cup) 70 calories Dancing (15 min.)
GRAVY (1/4 cup) 45 calories 50 burpees
CRANBERRY SAUCE (1/4 cup) 37 calories 60 push-ups Source: The Daily Burn
FOR THOSE WHO WORK OUT 5 TO 6 DAYS A WEEK Plan for some spinning, running, power yoga and weight training early in the day, then add some HIIT workouts in the afternoon or evening all week. Sign up for that Turkey Trot, and after the big meal, try my power yoga gratitude flow or Slimnastics HIIT/yoga fusion workouts. Traveling? You can still meet your goal with my Fit Travel Workout video that requires no equipment. A bonus for all these groups is that after putting this much time into fitness during the week, you may think twice about putting second helpings on your plate. Find Nikki's videos on instagram @Nikkifitness or on the NikkiFitness App.
of my favorite ways to re-create a healthier and delicious PRO TIP One option for Thanksgiving stuffing is an apple, apricot and
Consider healthier almond stuffing from the Frog Commissary Cookbook. And it's recipes for pretty! The red, orange and brown ingredients give it a festive traditional favorites. autumn look. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
home by diane sembrot
above: Michele Sinacore creates lush, colorful designs for the cooler months in her new shop in the close-knit Saugatuck community.
T H E A R T O F F L O R A L D E S I G N A T B L O S S O M + S TEM
hen it comes to gathering, arranging and delivering a presentation, Michele Sinacore’s got it down. Having worked in marketing and events for ESPN, Yahoo!, NBA, AOL and Discovery, she has racked up two decades as an event producer, planner and designer for private and corporate
clients around the world. Now she’s running her own business: Blossom + Stem. Her studio— where she creates everyday bouquets as well as elaborate arrangements for weddings and other significant gatherings—is located at 24 Railroad Place. “The train station area in Saugatuck was a comfortable spot to launch my first storefront as it needs to function as part working studio and part walk-in flower shop,” she says. Blossom + Stem is a reward after a lot of work. “I am a former event producer who wanted to be the floral designer,” she says. “I would read flower books, study design styles and dream about color combinations. I have always been very visual and obsessed with nature. I wanted to assist with all the styling at the events I planned and transitioned into styling before deciding to become professionally trained. I went to floristry school and take professional classes at Flower School in New York.”
FAVORITE FLOWERS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
November It brings an abundance of color from the deep brown of late-season sunflowers to maroon dahlias to all kinds of seasonal grasses. You can combine kale with burnt orange roses and white spider mums and it’s an explosion of beauty.
December This month reminds me of eucalyptus and pine, and I love to use both paired with deep jewel tones and crisp whites. We get gorgeous magnolia leaves, and it’s simply stunning combined with almost anything. I love pairing deep colors with bright whites and adding in textures like berries and branches. I am known for lush designs and love to use what’s in season.
PORTRAIT BY @TOMIRAWILCOX; ALL FLOWERS, CONTRIBUTED
Sinacore is also creating a community by hosting workshops, such as one on how to design a seasonal tablescape and another on how to pair flowers in your home or your retail shop—and she’ll even do this over Zoom. “During the initial months of Covid, Zoom flower classes became a thing,” she says. “I got to train with some awesome designers who were craving to share their skills.” For these workshops, participants receive boxes of fresh flowers and supplies. “It works well because flowers are just happy and everybody loves working with them. We recently did a workshop for twenty-five women and they all had great fun and made really beautiful pieces.” Public workshops are also held at MoCA (mocawestport.coursestorm.com/ category/intensive-workshops). One of her sweetest ideas is Flower Fridays for which she arranges a bouquet for pick up or delivery on Friday (order at blossomstem.com), and she offers a monthly subscription for bouquets and table centerpieces. Plus, she has a seasonal planter pot design. Her flowers have been featured at local shops, including Tarantino, Swoon, The Porch at Christie’s and Le Plage at Longshore.
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Festive design with Westport's lifestyle royalty, MAR JENNINGS
right: Mar Jennings above: The lifestyle expert's home, Rosebrook Gardens, decorated for the holidays
A MAR-velous Holiday
f anyone’s home is going to be perfectly decorated for the holidays, it will Mar Jennings’s Rosebrook Gardens. The lifestyle expert, award-winning TV host of Life on Mar’s: The Home Makeover Show, author of two books on home and garden and Realtor (marjennings.com) often uses his own renovated, decorated and landscaped
Westport property to teach others. Come holiday season, Jennings dazzles his clients, audience and lucky neighbors with its magical transformation. “Festive, creative holiday decor has always meant more than a tree in my family,” he says. “We show the holiday spirit with exterior home decor that always goes beyond a simple westportmag.com
door wreath. For decades Rosebrook Gardens’ planters, fences, arbors, pergola, window boxes and trellises all become festive as locations to design and celebrate the holidays. These designs are complemented with white lights and garland, and, of course, I incorporate my classic gas lantern. This is how I celebrate the season and my passion for my life and home.”
Jennings on how to decorate outdoor spaces with natural elements
HOLIDAY DECOR RULES 1. COLOR
“Never use red or green ribbon. Think outside the box. Burlap, silver or gold always rock the holiday season.”
SCORE AT THE DOOR With so many visitors over the holidays, it's best to get their attention at the door. Planters are refreshed for the season with local greens and holiday garland and twinkle lights become a must. No bright colors, rather organic tones become the natural choice.
LANTERN POST I have never seen a lantern post I was not obsessed with decorating for the holidays. Because of their locations, mostly visible to the street, this holiday decor must be cohesive with your front door. Following the garland theme, I match the lighting, garland and vine as an extension of festive style.
“Install any festive decor just after Thanksgiving and remove it by February 1. No one wants to see a spent holiday door wreath in February or March.”
WINTER INTEREST When the planter beauty is over, here comes winter interest. This is where I can have fun with the unexpected, like these homes. And because of its great location near the front door, it’s always noticeable to all who visit. PHOTOGRAPHY, CONTRIBUTED: DECOR HEMLOCK ©MELINDA FAWVER STOCK.ADOBE; COM;
“Always try to use fresh clippings from the garden for that extra personal touch. Magnolia branches, hemlock and boxwood clippings add value to both the garden and the holiday decor season.”
ARBOR DECOR Even my arbor becomes an unexpected opportunity to create beauty. Garland tied with wire and a custom holiday wreath are integrated with style and grace. It's an unexpected location for a festive look yet always relevant to any holiday decor.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
If you haven’t snagged an invite to Rosebrook Gardens, here’s your sneak peek at its peak for the holidays: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=s5FW3TnF4po. Head to his website to see it during the summer (at the 2021 Garden Tour).
Home for the Holidays A glimpse into Sam Allen's Connecticut home, designed for seasonal gatherings phot o gr aphy by neil l andino
am Allen says there’s no excuse not to decorate. Yes, we’re home a lot. Yes, our celebrations may be limited in size. Yes, we may not be throwing party after party. That said, do it for yourself. Because it feels good. Because it’s beautiful. Because every day and every celebration matters and has meaning—and deserves a red bow. We caught up with the busy designer—founder of Sam Allen Interiors (samalleninteriors .com), a Westport-based boutique residential and commercial design firm—in between running to current projects and launching a new shop. In our conversation, he explains how to create a welcoming home by opening his own, which, of course, he festively and tastefully decorated. He shares how he did it and how already loved furniture, fabrics and accessories around the house add a personal touch to a look. Because of the news, Covid and stress, he says the importance of a beautiful, comforting home is especially important—we all need a bit of magic. Here, Sam serves as our expert guide to holiday designing and uses images of his own home and a step-by-step tutorial to help the rest of us create a bit of cheer at home.
What elements work for the holidays? “I am drawn to a few major elements year after year that never seem to tire. Glass-glittered and old-school-mercury, with hints of gold and blush, ball ornaments in varied sizes. For example, I love putting them in hand-etched mercury urns, which have been in my family forever, on the kitchen table for symmetry. And, of course, any size faux feather wreaths in white or gray. Depending on the scale, I love to hang them with pale-gray silk ribbon inside in front
of windows and add larger ones— do a pair over the front of French doors or a large-scale mirror. The reflection is stunning! Also, I am very happy to incorporate pieces for all four seasons—whether it’s shiny mint julep cups for small floral arrangements, vintage hotel silver ice buckets for larger arrangements and mercury votive holders for candles down the dining table. Really, any hotel silver makes everything around you just shine and more elevated. There are so many good sources for not expensive hotel silver—silver-
top: Sam Allen at home center: Silver wreath from Millie Rae's on gray silk ribbon right: Vintage Wedgewood gilded china with coordinating stemware and vintage Tiffany & Co. silver cutlery. Each setting has glittered pinecones tied with velvet ribbon (Millie Rae's). Mercury vases are topped with faux feather wreaths and hammered silver spheres and the table is lined with vases filled with red roses and sit in silver wreaths (Millie Rae's), Terrain trees and votives add ambience.
plated looks so similar. Hotel Silver LTD is my go-to source and has so many options and all different kinds of pieces.” Anything to avoid? “I am not a real lover of red poinsettias or red carnations. They’re too common and expected around the holidays. But I do love small or large arrangements that you can easily create yourself of red roses or pink, white and striped amaryllis. The three colors together look like a giant fantastic candy cane.” How do you transition a look from Thanksgiving to the winter holidays? “Easily! There are so many kinds of branches that work with both holidays, especially with a keen eye and, tweaked carefully, you can re-use—magnolia, quince, holly, pussy willows and, of course, fresh flowers done in solid arrangements, so you don’t have to worry about making it complicated. I adore green-and-white parrot tulips, which can be used on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table.
They bring in some green for the holidays, but the pattern on the flower is timeless.” What if we’re not planning big gatherings? “There is always a way to make entertaining special! It does not need to be in a formal setting. Anywhere that you take the time to create something a little different and unique instantly makes it cozy and festive. Even just the island in your kitchen or breakfast nook—it works fine when you are having an intimate gathering. It actually makes it more special as everyone is closer together to celebrate.” Any favorite local stores? “Absolutely! We are very blessed to live in an area with so many good home-furnishing boutiques, and I am all about shopping local. Terrain is by far my favorite and has the biggest assortment from ornaments, holiday decor, fresh magnolia, or boxwood wreaths and garlands—it’s truly onestop shopping and the way the merchandise is displayed is just inspiring in and of itself. A few
above: The designer arranged mixed ginger jars, orchids in a bowl and glass trees from Millie Rae's. He placed green glass pinecone ornaments and large Hotel Silver Bowl, filled with large round mercury ornaments. on a rattan round table from Terrain.
HOW TO CREATE A PRO-LEVEL LOOK, STEP-BY-STEP To keep holiday decorating from seeming overwhelming, Sam Allen suggests incorporating pieces from around the house. “Not only is it a money saver, but it also gives your home a richer, more layered look,” he says. Blue-andwhite ginger jars—vintage, reproduction and all motifs and sizes—are his choice now. Here are the next steps… 1 "I gather as many pairs of jars that I own, all sizes, as scale is very important, and stagger them on the vintage French sideboard in the living room."
4 "Next, I fill the pair of ginger jars at the front and center with greenand-white parrot tulips, my favorite holiday flower."
2 "I put the tallest pair in the far corners to anchor the sideboard and fill them with tons of red Hypericum berry branches, as I want to incorporate red—anything in that color instantly makes it feel festive."
5 "To finish it off, I fill a blueand-white Chinese-motif bowl with white orchids and layer in preserved sheet moss for drama and elegance. Incorporate something you would always have in the area, regardless of the holiday, so it doesn’t seem contrived and like a holiday window in a department store. It looks effortless, which is how you want any design to feel."
3 "Then, I stagger the different pairs and place three sizes of glass-glittered trees between them to give each vignette depth and to add interest."
top: Sam Allen ties vintage red-and-white stripe ribbon on a Terrain wreath of real Magnolia leaves—they are preserved, so they don’t dry out and can last for years.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
home 3 Musts for Sam Allen’s Perfect Holiday Season
of my other favorites that have amazing products for the holidays are Millie Rae’s, Bel Mondo Home and The Beehive in Fairfield. All different price points, so there is truly something for everyone.” Who inspired this look? “Tory Burch. Nobody decorates for the holidays like she does. The way she decorates all of her homes so effortlessly and how her brand does all of their holiday windows are just so inspiring. We also have a very similar philosophy on how to decorate for the holidays—I love setting the tables in unusual ways, and working on the flowers is truly therapeutic to me. I encourage clients and friends to try things that seem imperfect; it will always have a divine and unexpected outcome.”
No. 1 organization I watch my team place all of the lights very strategically as I direct them where every single item goes. I am a bit of a control freak—maybe somewhat perfectionist— especially at the holidays.
No. 2 inspiration I have loved holiday decorations since I first could walk. My favorite part is pulling out the storage bins from the attic, all organized by category. I love unpacking them and sorting everything with my team while holiday music plays in the background. Let’s just say it’s a bit of a production. Every year, I place all the items in different areas around the house and design depending on my mood or if something has strongly inspired me. I never duplicate.
Who inspires you, generally? “Martha Stewart by far—a dear friend and icon. She has taught me so much over the years, from how to run a business and brand and truly all things home, gardening, cooking and especially entertaining! Also, Daniel Romualdez, Aerin Lauder and my favorite event planner, David Monn.” What are you thankful for? “I am incredibly grateful that I get to wake up every day doing something I love and am so passionate about. It is so satisfying to help people design their dream home or turn their houses into homes that reflect them and their families. I am blessed to have amazing clients who trust me and my vision and have since I was eighteen, when I first opened my business. I can’t believe it’s been eleven years—boy, time flies! I was nineteen when the cover of the New York Times Home Section read: 'Get on board for the Sam Allen ride—when you hire Sam Allen, you’re buying an experience.’ That couldn’t be more true, even now. I do not just decorate my clients’ homes; I believe in elevating their entire lifestyle.” Anything else? “Yes! I could not be more thrilled to share that I am launching my very own online shop entitled The Shop by Sam Allen, where you can purchase products I’ve
top: Pier 1 glass and faux fur trees and a white faux fur wreath decorate a vintage French armoire. Magnolia branches and magnolia blossoms by Diane James Home fill hurricanes on the mantle with magnolia garland from Terrain. The faux feather tree under cloche is from Bel Mondo Home. bottom: An antique breadmaker table is topped with ceramic crackle urns and oversized mercury balls with hand-etched detail. Fresh roses fill a creamware container flanked with pinecone topiaries by Diane James Home.
collected, curated and designed that will get your home, garden and kitchen tasks efficiently, beautifully and purposefully done. I want to inspire people to make their homes beautiful, functional and more meaningful by offering
high-quality products of value, super function, innovation and, of course, beautiful design. It’s just the beginning. The shelves at The Shop by Sam Allen are being stocked daily with my exclusive products and collections.”
scent Every year as a family we cut down a balsam fir, which is the most fragrant of the Christmas tree varieties, but their limbs are not the most sturdy. If you have heavy ornaments, stick with a fraser fir; while less fragrant, its branches hold up. And local boutiques sell divine holiday candles that smell like fresh Christmas trees. My absolute favorite is Soap & Paper Factory, sold at Bel Mondo Home. The candle and room spray are called Roland Pine, and the scent is a mix of Siberian Fir, pine and cilantro. I even mist my bed linens at night with it.
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right: Lauren Braun Costello below: Chanukah Gelt Bark made of dark chocolate
Homemade for the Holidays Westport’s LAUREN BRAUN COSTELLO gets clever in the kitchen by emily liebert
Homemade Hot Cocoa Everyone loves a cup of hot cocoa during the holidays and nothing is better than the real deal. Plus, it’s super easy. Just combine 1 cup of
trained chef, published author, cooking-show host and expert food stylist, Lauren is famous for her 100 straight days of Instagram Lives during the pandemic, sometimes multiple times a day, which rescued many of us from the monotony of quarantine. Now, the mom of two boys, who prides herself on crafting
over-the-top boxed lunches and weeknight dinners for her brood, shares her tricks and tips for these fabulous and fun treats. “I can teach anyone how to cook anything and present it like a pro,” she says. “It’s all about technique, not torture.” Recipes at itslaurenofcourse.com; more at Instagram @itslaurenofcourse.
unsweetened Dutch cocoa with ½ cup sugar and 1 cup mini chocolate chips. Store in a glass jar with a small scoop. For every cup of hot milk, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mix.
Marshmallow Snowmen Kids of all ages will have as much fun making these as they will enjoy eating them! Place three store-bought marshmallows on a wooden skewer. Use edible markers for the eyes and buttons, mini M&Ms for the nose, chocolate coins and a gumdrop for the hat, and licorice laces for the scarf. Melted chocolate acts as glue for the nose and hat.
of high-quality dark chocolate decorated with blue, white, silver and gold candies is not only festive but delicious. Who says chocolate bark is only for Christmas?
Gingerbread Ornaments These cookies are both decorative and delicious, making them a most special addition to any Christmas tree. Everything but The Bagel Brittle Peanut brittle is a classic Christmas
treat. Swapping the nuts for toasted “everything” bagel seasoning makes it a fun twist ideal for Chanukah. Chanukah Gelt Bark Gold coin chocolates are not known for their fine taste. Adding them to a slab
Simple Syrups: Rosemary, Ginger & Blood Orange It’s always cocktail time during the holiday season. Flavored simple syrups made with seasonal flavors are the perfect homemade food gift for your favorite host.
HEADSHOT, CONTRIBUTED; FOOD BY LAUREN BRAUN COSTELLO
hat better way to spread joy this season than with festive food gifts? And who better to share her delectable delights with us than It’s Lauren, of Course! After all, her tagline says it like it is: “There’s a right way to cook, there’s a wrong way to cook, and then there’s my way.” A classically
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money matters GIFT LIST
is the season to give, give, give. Bell-ringers, bakesales, charity galas and pieces of mail filled with success stories or tales of woe compete for your attention—and your cash. ’Tis also the season to gather with loved ones. Covid-19 protocols in place, you and your kids can (hopefully) gather around the table with Grandma and Grandpa, count your blessings and dig in. In other words, the time is right for talking with your family about
ENTERING THE SEASON OF SHARING YOUR WEALTH
sharing the wealth. “This is a good opportunity to discuss what is it about money that is important to us. Who am I sharing my wealth with?” says R. Michael Parry, president of Liberty Wealth Advisors in Stamford. Parry’s firm specializes in customized wealth management for high-net-worth clients, with tax preparation a centerpiece of his practice. Many smart tax strategies used to protect wealth can also benefit charitable giving, Parry says, helping your gifts to grow while lowering the payout to Uncle Sam. Before you start handing out money, create a mission statement, the same way the big foundations do. What causes are important to you, your spouse, your children? Ask the elders around the table where and how they share their money, and talk about where and how you share yours. Lead by example, Parry says. Together, come up with a few causes that you and your family can support locally, as that’s where you can make the greatest
GOOD TO GIVE
difference. Set actionable goals. The more focused you are, the more effective your giving, versus donating haphazardly into every open hand. Next, establish a vehicle for giving. Many high- and ultrahigh-net-worth families (more than $30 million in liquid assets) establish their own charitable lead/remainder trusts and annuities, or foundations to make the most of their gifts. But you don’t need an army of advisers or eight-figure gifts and estates to receive tax benefits the way the rich do. “A donor advised fund has a lot of appeal because of how easy it is to set up,” says Parry. “It’s like having your own family foundation, without the high costs and with minimal legwork.” Many financial advisory firms sponsor donor advised funds, providing all the accounting, bookkeeping and backend support that a private foundation would have to bear. Your family can have its own account within that framework. You donate cash,
stocks, real estate and more into the fund, get a tax deduction for your gift in the year that it’s given, and then let the gift grow tax-free over time until you donate it. Consider it a charitable investment account. Your gifts can benefit your church, the local soup kitchen, your alma mater —any IRS-recognized charitable institution. “Making a gift of appreciated securities has the most bang for the buck,” Parry says. “Let’s say you put $10,000 in Apple stock, and it’s now worth $100,000. By donating that into a donor advised fund, you get the immediate tax deduction of $100,000. The Apple shares can be sold and diversified [in the fund], and there’s no capital gains owed.” That money can be left to grow in the fund or can be gifted “to any legitimate nonprofit in existence,” says Parry. Your kids can chip in a portion of their allowance, gifts or wages as well. “What a great way to be able to involve your children to talk about who the money benefits.”
(Not So Random) Acts of Kindness
With tuition to pay, mounting bills and a shrunken bonus due to Covid, it might seem like your household has no free money to spare these days. But charity does not thrive on money alone. You can donate your time or expertise to a worthwhile venture. Maybe you’re a social media maven or a natural with a hammer and nails. Each of our cities and towns in lower Fairfield County has a food pantry, a social service agency or a community action group that would be happy for your brains or your brawn. Parry, for example, volunteers at the Highland Green Foundation, serves as an elder at his church and helps raise funds for Greenwich-based Kids in Crisis.
R. Michael Parry
BY CAROL LEONETTI DANNHAUSER
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tom philip • brunswick school
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grace lockhart djuranovic
andy berman & sherry jonas
Honoring the members of our community who show us that COMPASSION, HOPE and CARING can indeed change the world by jill johnson mann phot o gr aphs by mel ani lust
there were ever a time when we need reassurance that hearts are open and love will prevail, it is now. Consider one Fairfield County resident who must have felt completely hopeless, even before any of us began uttering the word “pandemic.” His name is Piglet, and as a one-pound, deaf and blind puppy, his prospects for love were grim. Then Westport vet Melissa Shapiro, already mom to
six dogs, brought him into her fold. “The puppy completely turned our house upside-down with his anxious screaming,” says Shapiro. “We weren’t prepared for the amount of time and energy we had to devote to the little guy; but as we held him, provided him with a routine, and taught him tap signals, he started to settle down.” Shapiro was determined to give Piglet a meaningful life—you’ll have to read about how that turned out. (Hint: She overdelivered.) We were all a bit like Piglet when the pandemic hit: disoriented, upset, hopeless. Then there was the routine: the hand-washing, the disinfecting, the masks, the Netflix marathons. Perhaps the family dinners, the calm of not chauffeuring kids, the setting up of a home office and the school room. Tap, tap, tap. Little signals that this is life now and we will get through it, leaning on one another. Some of our neighbors jumped into action to help those in need—we featured an admirable lineup of those model citizens in last year’s Light a Fire. And now, when we all want the pandemic to be over but it’s not, when it feels like it is taking so much out of us, the giving continues in Fairfield County. The givers keep laser-focused on helping. Helping hospitals, helping the needy and the lonely, helping children battling cancer, helping through music, helping through sports, helping with a wee dog named Piglet. Helping love win. Every day. We are proud to introduce you to our 2021 Light a Fire honorees.
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December 2 /
THURSDAY 5:45-6:45PM westportmag.com greenwichmag.com
Best Friend to Children
ORG A N I Z AT I O N: YO U N G AT H L E T E S 4 CH ANG E
I N S P I R A T I O N
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Words of Praise
“Wilner Joseph’s record of advocacy in our community is inspiring. His dedication to reaching the youth of Stamford by meeting them at their own level on the basketball court through Young Athletes 4 Change has undoubtedly changed many young lives for the better. On behalf of our city, I would like to offer him our sincerest gratitude and congratulations on this honor.”
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“First, I hope to bring peace, love and unity to the community,” says Joseph. He dreams of opening a community center, where his program can grow, with life-skills workshops, therapy for kids in need and free activities. “I dream of finding someone who believes in my mission and will fund this dream,” he says. “I’ve planted a seed here and dream of growing nationally, even globally, to help other kids. I’d love to see Young Athletes 4 Change in every city, every country!” »
—STAMFORD MAYOR, DAVID MARTIN
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
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Wilner with campers Aniya Gyambibi, Olivia Lorthe (center) and Christian Gyambibi
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Through Young Athletes 4 Change, Joseph has created events that spur conversations “about issues youth are dealing with in our communities: mental health, gun violence. These are team-building, and these are conversations that need to be had. The prevalence of social media and social media bullying is fueling violence,” Joseph says. “My brother was killed, and that made me an advocate for addressing gun violence and mental health issues that lead to violence.” In 2017, shortly after losing his brother, Joseph set up the Million Dollar Smile initiative—a line of clothing in honor of his brother Max. Funds from sales support raising awareness about gun violence with the message: “When we wear Million Dollar Smile, we represent resilience. We aim to sustain a community of young positive change makers worldwide. “We hold rallies and speeches in different communities,” Joseph says. “I’m proud to have gained attention from the mayor [of Stamford], who honored my brother and gave him his own day: May 20th is officially Max Day in Stamford, Connecticut, now. There is a big mural of my brother in Stillwater. Getting that day and the mural—I consider those two of my huge accomplishments. And seeing other kids I’ve mentored who come back and say, ‘Hey you saved my life.’ You may not save everyone; but if you save one, it’s a domino effect, because they may save the next one.”
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“I founded Young Athletes 4 Change to give kids in the inner-city opportunities I didn’t have when I was growing up,” says Stamford’s Wilner Joseph. “It’s about more than basketball; it’s about having a mentor and a program that offers life skills and the possibility of being a leader. Sports is what saved my life, keeping me out of trouble and connecting me to so many people: Black, White, all different communities. Those relationships were all built on our common love for the game. Sports brought that diversity to my life.” Joseph adds, “I’m inspired by seeing the impact I have on the youth I serve—guiding them in the right direction, seeing the happiness on their faces, giving them hope. Some kids come into the program with no hope and no direction. We try to provide the resources to give them a better situation.”
Words of Praise
“Rob really cares about connecting Band Central’s performances to a fundamental understanding of a nonprofit’s mission and always takes the extra step to get to know the organization and its work in a way that just feels more personal. During the pandemic, Band Central supported the Center for Family Justice in a variety of meaningful and impactful ways under the most extraordinary of circumstances.” —DEBRA A. GREENWOOD, PRESIDENT & CEO, CENTER FOR FAMILY JUSTICE
I N S P I R A T I O N “After decades of performing at nightclubs and festivals, I had the opportunity to perform alongside Meryl Streep and Paul Newman to preserve Connecticut farmland, which ignited a vision to play ‘music with purpose,’” says Rob Fried, who was in his mid-forties and “felt a need to contribute to the well-being and growth of the planet and people in it.” Combining decades of business and investment experience as a founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates with his musical passion, Fried united nonprofits, musicians, donors and audience members to support local causes through themed concerts. “Band Central was born to create fundraising events that connect giving with joy and entertainment,” explains Fried. “We call it Fun-lanthropy.”
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“We have helped raise approximately $4.5 million since our inception, produced more than 125 events and worked with over sixty different Connecticut nonprofits,” says Fried, who founded his organization in 2006 as “Band Together” and changed the name to Band Central three years ago. “We initiate the process by providing a grant to a nonprofit partner from the Band Central Fund, a donor-advised fund at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Next, the team of Audrey Nefores (director of communications), Paola Murphy (director of operations) and Andy Kadison (producer) work with me to support the nonprofit to market the event, engaging their existing donors and attracting new ones.” Band Central Radio on WPKN 89.5 FM spreads the word to the community, and Band Central draws from its network of 100-plus musicians to produce a Concert with a Cause. “It’s about many talents coming together with a sense of purpose to raise awareness and funds,” says Fried.
ROB FRIED Supporter of Nonprofits
O R G A N I Z AT I O N S : A N N ’ S P L AC E • C A R D I N A L S H E H A N C E N T E R • C E N T E R FO R FA M I LY J U ST I C E • C H I L D R E N ’ S L E A R N I N G C E N T E R S O F FA I R F I E L D CO U N T Y • C L AS P • CO M M O N G R O U N D • CO N N E C T I C U T I N ST I T U T E FO R R E F U G E E S A N D I M M I G R A N TS • C R E AT I V E CO N N E C T I O N S • M A R I T I M E AQ UA R I U M O F N O RWA L K • M I S S I O N /C T C H A L L E N G E • N E W CANAAN MOUNTED TROOP • NORMA PFRIEM B R E AST C E N T E R • O P E R AT I O N H O P E • SAV E T H E C H I L D R E N • ST E R L I N G H O U S E CO M M U N I T Y CENTER • TEAM WOOFGANG & COMPANY • WPKN
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“The social problems we face are complex, and change is difficult,” says Fried. “It requires collaboration with government. Instead of pushing through with fierce ambition, we take the Law of Attraction approach. We view ourselves as a big heart coming at people, using music to share joy so that others can enjoy their lives, feel meaning and be useful to others. At the end of the day, the people we think about are the clients of the nonprofits we work with, the people who really need a helping hand. To have a vibrant Connecticut we need to have more equality of opportunities so that different types of people can thrive.” Fried adds, “We aim to create a little more heaven here on earth so everyone transcends and moves up what we call the Maslow triangle to self-actualization.”
CHRISTINE LAI Best Friend to Families
O R G A N I Z AT I O N S : S . E . L . F. • A B I L I S • N E X T FO R AU T I S M • CO LU M B I A U N I V E R S I T Y ’ S A LU M N I R E L AT I O N S CO M M I T T E E FO R FA I R F I E L D CO U N T Y • G R E E N W I C H CO U N T RY DAY S C H O O L • W I N STO N P R E PA R ATO RY S C H O O L
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“Christine Lai is a passionate advocate and defender for the rights of the neurodivergent community. Her focus of ensuring children with learning challenges receive the best education possible is evidenced by her stellar leadership of the Special Education Legal Fund. Her passion is infections and her strength, charisma, tenacity and compassion translate into results for the community she serves.”
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“My dream for S.E.L.F. is that at some point in the future we won’t be needed, that all students will receive the education that is appropriate for them without intervention, and that all families will be able to advocate independently and successfully for their children in the special education system,” says Lai. “My dream for special education is for greater understanding of the vital role that it plays in the long-term functioning of society. A student who graduates from high school without being able to read, due to an undiagnosed or improperly supported learning disability, may have difficulty finding employment and holding a job, which could long-term have an impact on their ability to be a productive member of society.” »
—LUIS GUZMAN, DIRECTOR OF THE IMMIGRANT SUPPORT FUND, FAIRFIELD COUNTY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
AWA R D S
Words of Praise
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Lai formed S.E.L.F. in 2018 and partnered with Ulrika Drinkall, another Greenwich mom of a child with special needs. “We gathered a group of parents together based on this idea that the special education system works for families with resources, because they can afford the expertise that brings pressure to bear in order to get things done,” explains Lai. “We knew there were families slipping through the cracks. If you are a family who can’t afford an outside evaluation, or an advocate or an attorney in the most extreme cases, what do you do, and where do you turn?” Those families can now turn to S.E.L.F., which has provided $430,000 in grants since 2018 to families in thirty-nine school districts, ten counties and three states. “Our families are all different—some students have autism, some have dyslexia, some have mental health challenges,” says Lai, “but broadly speaking, they are all falling through the cracks, and we are grateful to provide them with a safety net.”
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“When my oldest son entered public school about ten years ago, we really struggled to get the school and the district to recognize his disability and the impact it had on his learning,” explains Christine Lai, founder of Special Education Legal Fund (S.E.L.F.). “Many parents struggle in the special education system due to its complexity as well as the difficulties they are experiencing while this is going on—maybe the teacher is calling you every day; maybe you are balancing appointments with multiple doctors, therapists and diagnosticians; maybe your child is coming home every day in tears. Our struggle with our school lasted about twenty months from start to finish. I remember thinking at the time, what do other families do if they don’t have the time, energy and resources to fight this fight for their children? That struggle, ultimately, formed the basis of the idea that became S.E.L.F.”
MATTHEW JORDAN Teen Volunteer
ORG A N I Z AT I ON S : K I DS I N C R I S I S • STAPLES HIGH SCHOOL SERVICE LEAGUE OF BOYS
I N S P I R A T I O N “It’s difficult to read a news article or watch a current events video without being exposed to the harsh realities of our world,” says Westport’s Matthew Jordan, a devoted volunteer at Kids in Crisis (KIC). “So many children are left without the support they need. Some parents don’t have the necessary resources. Some parents get sick, pass away or endure life-changing events that make caring for children near impossible. I am inspired by the tremendous fortune of having a family and the support that allowed me to have a well-rounded childhood. The question ‘why me?’ motivates my action to help others who may not have the same opportunities.”
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Despite the challenges of functioning virtually, Jordan stayed engaged and active as a volunteer for Kids in Crisis during the pandemic, recruited his Staples High School classmates to join KIC’s Youth Corps and made an impact with an array of initiatives. “Social media may be the most effective method of reaching not only adolescents, but the general public,” says Jordan. “With this in mind, KIC made a special social media campaign for National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. The KIC Youth Corps is a group of teens with the mission to make KIC social media and youth targeted events more effective. Our corps suggested enhancements to KIC’s social media presence that over time increase our community’s awareness of the issues affecting children and families. Another project, the Winter Season Scavenger Hunt, promoted local business, family bonding, and KIC services.”
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“My ultimate ambition for Kids in Crisis is to increase awareness among all who could benefit from our services,” says Jordan. “It’s troubling to know that many others could be helped, if they only knew where to find us. The majority of kids at Staples High School don’t know we have a KIC Teen Talk counselor—and, yet, she’s still busy. The pandemic and its negative effects on mental health have intensified the need for KIC’s services. The social media campaigns help to increase awareness, but a brand and reputation like Make-A-Wish—of which my grandfather was on the national board—could see KIC’s impact grow exponentially.”
Words of Praise
“Matthew has been a crucial part of our teen volunteer program, Youth Corps. Although they were virtual, he has attended all Youth Corps meetings and always offers meaningful contributions to our conversation. Matthew has been a huge help in organizing our Child Abuse Prevention campaign during the month of April. He worked hard in finding statistics and facts, and he also helped coordinate the best and most effective way to share these statistics through social media. Matthew also participated in our virtual scavenger hunt event, where he raised awareness of Kids in Crisis and helped raise funds for our organization. Matthew requested to continue volunteering throughout the summer, as he is passionate about the Kids in Crisis’ mission and the safety of all children.” —MELISSA BASILE-REOLON, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND EDUCATION COORDINATOR, KIDS IN CRISIS
ORG A N I Z AT I O NS : R E D WAG O N G R O U P • B A L L S A N D C L E ATS FO R E R I T R E A
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Julie with her children Haley, Jack, Lily and Riley
Words of Praise
“Through her volunteer work with the School House Apartments, Julie organized a parade of donations for necessities during Covid, bringing residents toilet paper, paper towels, even rolls of quarters to do their laundry. Through the Red Wagon Group and New Canaan Moms, Julie has spearheaded so many community projects. For the last holiday season, she collected donations for the School House residents yet again to bring them joy by giving them ‘Twelve Days of Christmas.’ Julie never stops; she even partnered with one resident to help him gather old family recipes and get his own cookbook edited and published.”
D R E A M S
“We will continue to find ways we can help support the residents at the School House Apartments,” says Schlafman. “I hope the Red Wagon Group continues to foster relationships and that the community as a whole keeps School House Apartments on their radar.” She adds, “We hope to annually collect for the Eritrean Community. We dream of going over there and meeting the soccer coaches and children who benefited from our efforts. Maybe this will inspire my children to create their own nonprofit one day!” »
—MARIANNE BACHELDOR, TEACHING ASSISTANT, NEW CANAAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
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Barely into grade school, Schlafman’s daughters spearheaded a food drive for School House apartments, a New Canaan retirement community. They gathered the goods in their red wagon and, thus, in 2016, Red Wagon Girls was formed. They went on to orchestrate a flower activity for residents and a trick-or-treating event that was such a sweet hit it became a yearly treat for residents and kids alike. And soon their annual red wagon food drives grew in girls and wagons. In third grade, the entire class participated. “Girls” became “Group,” as boys joined in. The Schlafmans drew the community together during the pandemic to provide necessities and encouraging messages for School House residents. “My dream is to have people who pass the apartments on their walk to town stop by and say hello and know that they were a part of keeping that wonderful group of residents in high spirits,” says Schlafman. After her girls read I Will Always Write Back, Schlafman expanded the family’s altruistic reach. “I wanted to teach them there is more out there in the world than just New Canaan,” explains Schlafman. “My soccer coach from Cornell is from Eritrea, Africa, and hoped to create a nonprofit to bring soccer balls and cleats to Africa. We thought we could help.” Soon, over eighty balls, 130 pairs of cleats, uniforms/jerseys and money raised through the “Schlafman Sweet Stand” were on their way to Africa.
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“I believe it takes a village to accomplish great things,” says Julie Schlafman, a New Canaan mom of four. “I think what inspires me to give back and do community service is my children. Giving back is a value we hold in our family. Teaching them what it takes to be a part of a community and watching them thrive from volunteering inspires me to do more. By volunteering, you learn very quickly not only how appreciative others are but what a gift it is to give.”
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I N S P I R A T I O N
GRACE LOCKHART DJURANOVIC Committee Member
O R G A N I Z AT I O N S : G R E E N W I C H U N I T E D WAY • B R U C E M U S E U M • G R E E N W I C H AC A D E M Y • P I TC H YO U R P E E R S
I N S P I R A T I O N “From a young age, I remember my parents and grandparents always setting a wonderful example with their dedication to service,” says Grace Lockhart Djuranovic. “I grew up watching them volunteer, and my parents [Cricket and Jim Lockhart] are still very active in the Greenwich community. This legacy of giving back instilled values that motivate me to give back every day.” Djuranovic also credits Greenwich Academy. “Community service was an integral part of my education,” she says. “Professionally, in my previous job managing sponsorships for an international bank, I worked with nonprofits all over the country. This was not only inspiring, but also educational, as I’m able to bring what I’ve learned to my volunteer work locally,” she says.
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A C T I O N
“Cochairing the Bruce Museum Night at the Museum Family Fundraiser seeded the idea for the Bruce Contemporaries, as we wanted to engage more families with young children and also young professionals,” says Djuranovic. Launched in 2018, Contemporaries now has 100 members and offers special events monthly. Djuranovic recently cochaired the museum’s biggest annual fundraiser, the Bruce Gala, which netted over $500,000. “The Greenwich United Way has also been a special organization to my family, as my mother was a cofounder of Sole Sisters, the GUW women’s initiative with the mission of ‘Women Stepping Up to Help Others Step Forward,’” explains Djuranovic. Djuranovic cochaired that event in 2018 and 2019. As a GUW board member, she has served on the Grants Committee and now is vice chair of Board Affairs and chair of the Nominating Committee. Djuranovic is also a member of Greenwich Academy’s Alumnae Association Board and supports Pitch Your Peers, a local, female-only, grant-funding organization.
H O P E S
Words of Praise
“A truly great nonprofit board member requires a strong character, an unwavering commitment to the cause, the gift of time and a willingness to use personal and professional resources to advance the organization’s mission. Grace leverages all these, and more, for the Greenwich United Way. Grace’s boundless energy and leadership has helped us assist our most vulnerable in myriad ways. From our grants to organizations to our own Direct Impact programs, Grace’s expert input, thoughtfulness and kindness exemplify what a valuable board member she is to us.”
D R E A M S
“I feel very lucky to call Greenwich my hometown, which is why I’ve focused my efforts locally,” says Djuranovic. “My hope is that these organizations keep providing the excellent services and programs that improve the lives of so many on a daily basis. I see the Greenwich United Way continuing to lead the way in addressing local human services needs, especially with essential programs like the Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions Program. I hope Bruce Contemporaries continues to grow as the museum grows. The New Bruce will completely transform the museum, and I am looking forward to seeing how it impacts the local art community and the town of Greenwich.”
—DAVID RABIN, PRESIDENT & CEO GREENWICH UNITED WAY
ANDY BERMAN & SHERRY JONAS Impactful Duo
I N T O
buoying participation and sponsorship. In total, PAC has now raised almost $1 million. “We’ve sent almost 300 kids to camp,” says Jonas. “That is a gift to every person who participates or donates money, not to mention the families who get to watch their children blossom and forget about their illness, at least for a moment in time. Hole in the Wall Gang serves more than 20,000 children a year. It’s not just the camp; they also do outreach and take camp activities to hospitals and communities.”
A C T I O N
“Really, all I did was serve as a bridge between my friends who work for the city, the police, friends in the military, other trainers and coaches— and it just grew,” says Berman. It outgrew his gym, then the Levitt Pavilion in Westport, and finally landed at the Staples High School gym. “It’s for all ages and all fitness levels. No one is responsible for a certain amount of push-ups. Kids in remission, former campers, come and speak and do push-ups. That really resonates with the kids—that they can do anything. That message is so incredibly important.” “The only thing bigger than Andy’s biceps is his heart,” comments Jonas. “He does a remarkable job bullying people into participating. He has always had an incredible presence in the community.” Jonas brought her Columbia MBA and business experience to the table as Berman’s “taskmaster,”
H O P E S
D R E A M S
“I hope that more people focus on what they can do in their own community as a team and worry less about negatives,” says Berman. “We’ve proven in Westport that a small town is capable of so much. I hope to start PACs in other towns. The best thing in life is giving back. I wake up every morning looking forward to teaming up with good people to do great things.” Jonas reiterates, “I hope that PAC continues to grow as a community event but also that we roll this model out to communities around the country.” »
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
AWA R DS
—JUSTIN FARRANDS, PEER-TO-PEER COORDINATOR, THE HOLE IN THE WALL GANG CAMP
C O U R A G E
“It has been my pleasure to work with these dedicated individuals and help them grow this event from an annual twenty– participant/$10,000 fundraiser to nearly 400 participants and $250,000 raised in one year.”
Words of Praise
When Andy Berman opened his gym, Fitness Factory, in Westport in 2009, he wanted to do something for a good cause. “I’m a huge fan of Paul Newman. I learned about Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and I felt 100 percent that’s what I want to support,” says Berman. “I thought back on my childhood and going to camp and having such a great time, and I got a lump in my throat. For these kids, it’s the one time they can just be kids.” The camp enables seriously ill children to go to camp, with suitable medical support and adapted activities, at no cost. Berman created a pushup-athon, Push Against Cancer, twelve years ago, to support the cause. In 2017, Sherry Jonas, inspired by her fiftieth birthday falling on the same day as the event she always attended, joined his team. Jonas says: “There is a Jewish concept, tikkun olam, which means ‘repairing the world.’ For as long as I can remember I felt that tikkun olam is my spirituality, my religion. I try to give back and make the world a better place one person at a time, one event at a time.”
I N S P I R A T I O N
ORG A N I Z AT I O N: A N DY B E R M A N : P U S H AG A I N ST C A N C E R • C ATC H A L I F T F U N D • M Y T E A M T R I U M P H • N O R M A P H R I E M B R E AST C E N T E R S H E R RY J O N AS : P U S H AG A I N ST C A N C E R • K AT E R E A R D O N M E M O R I A L S C H O L A R S H I P ( FO U N D E R )
BRUNSWICK SCHOOL Community Good Neighbor
O R G A N I Z AT I O N S : G E M S • G R E E N W I C H H O S P I TA L • H O R I ZO N S • G R E E N W I C H P U B L I C S C H O O L S • G R E E N W I C H YO U T H AT H L E T I C P R O G R A M S
Brunswick’s other campus in Western Greenwich is hosting two ambulances, while GEMS builds a facility nearby. “I bet the preschool kids think it’s very exciting,” says Philip. Brunswick also allocates two full buildings and its pool to the Brunswick Horizons enrichment program, which runs through the summer and on six Saturdays during the year. It is free for public school boys in need. “We are in our sixth or seventh year of offering the program,” says Philip. “We are now serving 130 boys. Our Horizons faculty work with public school administrators to identify kids they are concerned about. And it’s not just the kids. The families are involved as well. We weren’t able to run it in 2020 during Covid, but it was back this summer with masks.” Philip adds, “These programs are critical for the community, but they are also really good for us. A bunch of our boys and faculty volunteer. You get as much out of giving as receiving. We have a dynamic community service program, and all students are required to participate. It’s been part of our tradition for as long as we’ve been around.”
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D R E A M S
“My hope is that when needs arise, we will be there. We are lucky to be able to help,” emphasizes Philip. “Our current priority is making Brunswick more accessible through scholarships—to first-responder families and hospital workers, for example. We want those people who are working hard for the town to be able to live nearby and send their children to the school they would like. We are very cognizant in admissions of accepting local students. We very much want to be a Greenwich school for Greenwich citizens.”
Words of Praise
“Greenwich Hospital was so fortunate to have such a great partner in Brunswick School for Covid vaccinations. They collaborated with us on every aspect to ensure that our community was able to get in and out of the school safely and quickly without interfering with their day-to-day operations of running a school. The process couldn’t have gone more smoothly. We recognize this was a significant challenge, one they took on for the greater good.”
I N S P I R A T I O N “We benefit so much from what the town of Greenwich provides, how can we not give back?” says Head of Brunswick School Tom Philip. “You can’t be a part of the community unless you are prepared to give back. We wouldn’t be the school we are without Greenwich.”
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A C T I O N
When the pandemic hit, Brunswick School stepped up and offered its parking lot to Greenwich Hospital, in case it was needed for patient overflow. “We also opened up one of our gyms to the hospital to set up a Covid vaccine clinic,” says Philip. “They were incredible and so efficient. They’ve vaccinated 40,000 people since January.” The school also set up a food bank for first responders.
—DIANE KELLY, PRESIDENT, GREENWICH HOSPITAL
ORG A N I Z AT I O N: P I G L E T I N T E R N AT I O N A L , I N C .
I N S P I R A T I O N
A C T I O N
H O P E S
AWA R D S Words of Praise
“Like Piglet, Dr. Shapiro is one in a million. A compassionate vet, Melissa has chosen to use her work with rescue animals to teach the importance of empathy and overcoming challenges. The Piglet Mindset inspires children to show compassion to each other, but equally important, to show kindness to themselves.”
D R E A M S
“In order to expand and grow my educational program, I hope to build a supportive board of directors, attract corporate sponsors and increase our individual donor base,” says Shapiro. “I plan to add an advisory panel of educators, create more educational materials and reach school systems across the globe. We hope to bring Piglet’s message of positivity, inclusion, empathy and kindness to more people all around the world. When children are kind to animals, they are more likely to be kind to each other.” »
—EILEEN BARTELS, VET CLIENT
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
F I R E
The pack: Dean, Gina, Zoey, Evie, Piglet and Annie
I N T O
“Once we formally adopted Piglet, I created Piglet’s mission, which included educating about and advocating for rescued animals, particularly those with disabilities,” says Shapiro, who set up a nonprofit, Piglet International, in 2019. Piglet’s story resonated with kids with challenges, too, and Shapiro created the Piglet Mindset program and Piglet’s Inclusion Pack as a teaching model for acceptance, inclusion, empathy and kindness. “I shared Piglet’s story with media companies like The Dodo, which supported our platform by creating and circulating videos and articles. The initial Dodo video was viewed over 13 million times around the world. It was our first genuinely ‘viral’ experience with Piggy.” Shapiro also began selling Piglet merchandise to fundraise for dog rescue groups and partnered with an online T-shirt company when worldwide demand skyrocketed. “To date, we have raised just shy of $100,000 from T-shirt sales alone,” says Shapiro. She collaborated with a third-grade teacher to create lesson plans on PigletMindset.org and Melissa and Piglet make virtual and in-person visits with students and teachers. Piglet’s social media platforms—“Piglet, the deaf blind pink puppy,” on Facebook and @pinkpigletpuppy on Instagram—have over 450,000 followers, and Melissa released the book Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family in August. A children’s book is in the pipeline for 2022.
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C O U R A G E
2 0 2 1
“As a veterinarian, I’ve been involved in dog rescue for a very long time,” says Westport’s Melissa Shapiro. “Our family has fostered a number of dogs and birds and helped them find their forever homes. So when I learned about a tiny, deaf and blind, one-pound puppy, I figured that fostering would be a helpful, temporary commitment. I was curious about what it would be like to care for and connect with such a profoundly disabled dog.” It wasn’t easy. “The puppy completely turned our house upside-down with his anxious screaming,” explains Shapiro. “We weren’t prepared for the amount of time and energy we had to devote to the little guy; but as we held him, provided him with a routine, and taught him tap signals, he started to settle down.” Two months later, Melissa realized she couldn’t let him go. “To justify adding a seventh dog to our household, I promised myself Piglet would have a productive, meaningful life,” she says.
Community Advocate O R G A N I Z AT I O N : M U S E U M O F DA R I E N
I N S P I R A T I O N “I’ve always liked history,” says Alan Miller. “About three years ago, I became a member of the Museum of Darien and started learning more about the history of Darien and all the fascinating people from here and incredible things that happened here. Soon after, I retired from my job as an engineer and sent my last kid off to college. I realized I had time to do the volunteering I’d put off for many years.” Darien’s bicentennial was approaching in 2020, making it perfect timing for the Sikorsky aircraft engineer to dig deeper into the town’s history and make some history at the same time. Initial meetings led to the creation of the Darien 2020 Bicentennial Committee, and Miller agreed to lead it. “It’s completely different from what I was doing in my career,” says Miller, “and such a treat and educational experience for me.”
C O U R A G E
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A C T I O N
Miller, who has been chairman of the Museum of Darien’s Board of Directors since its creation in 2019, launched into a multipronged plan for the celebration of the town’s 200th birthday. Soon the Bicentennial Committee grew to more than twenty-five members and volunteers. Little did they know, the pandemic would turn a one-year commitment into three. “In spite of all the challenges, I’m proud that we haven’t scaled back or canceled any events. Some just have been postponed,” explains Miller. In January of 2020, an opening ceremony was held at the Town Hall, with 400 people in attendance and CBS correspondent Scott Pelley hosting. The Weed Beach Festival couldn’t happen until last June, but by then, 400 people were more than ready to enjoy the band Exit Ramp, a whale boat and a catered picnic from Giovanni’s. “A week later, we celebrated Anniversary Day in partnership with Daughters of the Revolution,” says Miller. At press time, the Bicentennial Committee was holding auditions for the reenactments of the Revolutionary War raids on the Middlesex Meeting House and Mather homestead. For a time capsule project, items “have been collected from people in town and from every school. The time capsule will be held for fifty years at Museum of Darien and then revealed,” explains Miller. The Darien Heritage Trail, funded by a $35,000 grant from the Darien Foundation, is also underway and will feature an audio accompaniment. In addition to the grant, Miller and his committee raised $50,000 in donations for their events. “We are also selling Bicentennial merchandise—hats, tees, ornaments,” says Miller.
H O P E S
really close to home. Once you learn about the Revolutionary battles, you realize it was really a civil war here. I hope we continue to have great events informing people about what our forefathers sacrificed so that we could have this great place to live. I hope people volunteer and, with all the chaos in the world, realize how fortunate we are to live in this part of it.” G
Words of Praise
“I doubt that anyone except a designer of helicopters could have managed this multifaceted bicentennial effort as successfully. Luckily Al has the organizational capacity to handle lots of plates in the air at once. He’s done a tremendous job keeping everyone on task and focused.”
D R E A M S
“We tend to emphasize major historical figures and battles when learning about our past,” notes Miller. “Often what is forgotten is what happened
—ROBERT J. PASCAL, PRESIDENT, MUSEUM OF DARIEN BOARD OF DIRECTORS
TUNE IN ON
Thursday, December 2, 5:45 p.m.
Photos by Kyle Norton
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TIME TO EAT Dropping in on a few of the new cafés and restaurants in Westport by eliz abeth keyser
right: Pumpkin spice gelato from Cold Fusion Gelato
phot o gr aph by garvin burke
WHO’S ON OUR MENU
owntown Westport is having a renaissance, and the streets are filled with new shops and restaurants. Many opened during the height of the first wave of the pandemic, others later, and a few still getting ready—and we salute their gumption. These dedicated chefs and artisans have given us a wealth of places to indulge our love of food. How lucky are we to be offered the best gelato, coffee, pasta, bread, baked goods, seafood and local produce to fit our every mood from seaside to steakhouse to healthful Mediterranean? There are plenty of ideas here for ways to celebrate the holiday season, whether dining in, taking out or just hanging out over coffee and sweet treats.
» La Fenice Caffé and Gelateria » Cold Fusion Gelato » Mrs. London’s Bakery
FOR THE EXPERIENCE » Il Pastaficio » Capuli » La Plage
TIME TO GET COZY
» Hudson Malone Kitchen + Bar » Kneads
THIS JUST IN
» Grammies Donuts and Biscuits » Outpost Pizza » Romanacci Café » Basso » Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
SWEET TREATS La Fenice Caffé and Gelateria
top: Fresh baked goods—Coda di Argosta (lobster tail), apricot tart, a chocolate drizzle cookie and a sesame cookies—to enjoy in shop or to take home bottom: Gelato Stracciatella with chocolate shavings
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARVIN BURKE
eed a refresher on the difference between gelato and ice cream? Gelato is softer, denser, more flavorful—and lower in fat than ice cream. The choice is clear. From the moment La Fenice Caffé and Gelateria opened on Main Street in July, a line formed through the store and onto the sidewalk. The gelato is crafted by Salvatore Scuro, an Italian master of technique and flavor. This is the third shop that he and his wife, Simona Silvestri, have opened. The other shops are in Greenwich and Rye, New York. As for flavors, there’s twenty-two to choose from, so why not try three (you don’t have to eat it all at once, take it home). Double chocolate, coffee, pistachio and Scuro’s special blend of gianduia, chocolate and hazelnut seem especially wintery. The colorful array of fruit gelati can make you forget it’s cold out. La Fenice has a few small café tables for enjoying a real Italian espresso, pastries or panini. No worries if you can’t sit. Gelato and strolling go together. 49 Main St.; on Instagram @lafenicegelato
Cold Fusion Gelato
top: Take the hand-crafted gelato, whether cappuccino chip, madagascar bourbon vanilla or pistachio, to enjoy at home bottom Take a cup to go, with flavors like raspberry, blood orange and dark chocolate
PHOTOGRAPHY FROM INSTAGRAM @COLDFUSIONGELATO AND MRSLONDONBAKERY.COM
old Fusion goes beyond gelato by offering dairy-free sorbets of blood orange, blackberry merlot and Jamaican mango, deeply fruity flavors that make vegans very certain that they’re not missing out on what dairy eaters get. This holiday season Cold Fusion offers spiced cider sorbet and champagne sorbet (they sell pints and party trays, too). Yet the hand-crafted, silky-textured gelati lure with contemporary flavors, such as dark chocolate sea salt, caramelized banana, salted caramel chunk and something the Italians never thought of in their wildest dreams—cakebatter gelato. For Thanksgiving, a scoop of Madagascar bourbon vanilla gelato pairs with pie. This is the first year-round shop of this Walpole, Massachusetts, wholesale artisan gelato company owned by Westport couple Eric and Kelly Emmert. With a seasonal shop in Providence, Rhode Island, Cold Fusion also provides its gelato in such local restaurants as Rizzuto’s and in stores and retail shops along the East Coast. Cold Fusion also makes coffee and espresso drinks. Make sure to try an affogato (a shot of espresso poured over two scoops of gelato). 178 Main St.; coldfusiongelato.com
Mrs. London’s Bakery
hy indulge in a plain buttery, flakey croissant if you can indulge in one filled with walnuts, almonds and hazelnut cream? Or a plain old butter brioche when you could have one filled with shaved chocolate and vanilla custard? Mrs. London’s Bakery in Westport will be a new offshoot of a twentyyear-old bakery in Saratoga Springs, New York (despite the name London) and specializes in French baking traditions. Their quiche with Gruyère, bacon, ham, leeks and spinach is welcome on every buffet table. When you’re dine in at a café table, try a classic Croque Monsieur, made with béchamel ham and Gruyère (they make smoked turkey and tomato versions, too). Baguettes of ham, cheese and butter are great to-go. Mrs. London’s also creates adorable pastel-hued macarons filled with flavored butter creams. A selection of coffee, chocolate, pistachio and salted caramel makes a terrific hostess gift. And give yourself a present, a couple raspberry passion fruit macarons. 44 Church Ln.; mrslondonsbakery.com —to open this fall
top: The bakery, open in Saratoga Springs and coming to Westport, offers artisanal bread, including farm bread, baguettes and challah bottom Fresh fruit desserts
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
FOR THE EXPERIENCE Il Pastaficio
ook at the name closely and you’ll understand what this new restaurant is all about—a passion for the art and craft of pasta making. Owner Federico Perandin came to the U.S. from Italy about five years ago after his passion for pasta sent him on a journey of exploration into grains, milling, flours and pasta-making traditions. Unlike the Cos Cob retail shop, Il Pastaficio is a full-service restaurant, with a liquor license, seating about thirty-five diners. It also offers take-out, both uncooked pastas and sauces, and trays of cooked, sauced pastas, antipasti, salads, pastas and desserts. The number of dishes has expanded, yet the goal is the same: to bring the feeling of Italy to Connecticut. For winter months, the ravioli calls to us, stuffed with ricotta and sauced with butter and sage, or filled with short ribs and topped with tomato sauce, or the Emilia filled with prosciutto, mortadella, pork loin, ricotta and Parmesan. Along with a long list of shapes and sauces, Il Pastaficio offers a pasta of the day and weekly regional pastas as well as ancient-grain and gluten-free pastas made of beans and legumes. And if you’re looking for something new to bring to a Feast of the Seven Fishes buffet, Il Pastaficio makes marinated salmon with homemade dill mayonnaise and a “carpaccio” of octopus, a platter of thinly sliced tentacles dressed in lemon vinaigrette. One of the favorite desserts from Cos Cob that gets a wow from both adults and kids is “salami di cioccolate,” which despite looking like salami, is a treat made of chocolate and crushed cookies. 135 Post Rd. E.; ilpastaficio.com —to open this late this year
top row: Owner Federico Perandin • Tenerina (chocolate and flourless cake) bottom row: Ravioli Ricotta e Spinaci con Burro e Salvia (spinach and ricotta cheese with butter and sage • Gnocchi Pink Lady
Capuli top: Capuli’s freshmade pasta bottom: Fresh fruit crumble, the Berry Berry Crisp, topped with rich vanilla ice cream
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF IL PASTAFICIO, WWW.ILPASTAFICIO.COM, PICTURES BY GABRIELLA TOTH, FOLLOW INSTAGRAM @IL.PASTAFICIO; INSTAGRAM @CAPULIRESAURANT, @LAPLAGEWESTPORT
apuli is a welcoming, intimate restaurant serving contemporary CaliforniaMediterranean cuisine. It opened downtown on the Post Road in July 2020 and has become popular for healthful take-out at lunch and dinner. But the hospitality of the owners Chef Armando Brito and his wife, Andrea, makes it a pleasure to dine in this family-friendly restaurant. They are likely to place a little welcoming taste on the table, garlicky hummus with carrot sticks, perhaps. Butternut squash crostini, with julienned squash, figs and balsamic vinegar, are a terrific appetizer if your taste runs to sweet. Appetizers of skewers of grilled shrimp or beef are served with a punchy chimichurri sauce, and a lovely little salad of lettuces, purslane and parsley, made with care. Salmon roulade is a star of the menu, served in a vivid orange butter sauce, filled with crabmeat, and served with a risotto cake and sautéed spinach. Eggplant polenta Napoleon—layers of thin, smoky grilled eggplant and fresh sautéed spinach over soft, cheesy polenta—is a vegetarian crowdpleaser. Slow-simmered pot roast, with a rich sage-champagne sauce, mashed potatoes and Swiss chard, makes cold weather inviting. And a restorative bowl of bone broth can be just what a body needs during holiday season. The narrow room is visually widened by mirrors, and the tile floors, wood chairs and stainless-steel table tops make for a clean, spare dining room, decorated with the works by local artists. Parking available at Sconset Square. 143 Post Rd. E.; capulirestaurant.com
reat news for Westport and waterfront dining! La Plage, the new restaurant at Longshore, is from the team behind Artisan in Fairfield and L’Escale in Greenwich, whose kitchens are also overseen by Executive Chef Frederic Kieffer. The new restaurant and oyster bar has a bright, contemporary design with lots of windows to take advantage of the views of Long Island Sound. Retro midcentury chairs are updated with lime green cushions. Simple backless stools line the bar. The hospitality is immediate, with servers bringing warm house-baked rolls that are topped with sea salt to the table. The cuisine is coastal, with oysters from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine and Canada, steamers from Maine, and peel-and-eat shrimp from Florida. Big flame-broiled prawns, served head on, with a punchy lime emulsion, are topped with a salad full of fresh herbs. Garden appetizers include deep-fried, lemony artichokes served with little balls of burrata and prosciutto. Grilled pinsas, the trendy soft, puffy pizza, have contemporary sweet-savory toppings such as blue cheese, figs, arugula and spicy honey. For vegans, there’s a vegetable tort layered with eggplant, tomatoes and spinach. The burger is sourced from Custom Meat in Fairfield. The greens in the salads are grown by Sal Gilbertie. For dessert, the decadent Ile Flottante, a cloud of meringue, drizzled in caramel and showered in sliced almonds, and floating in crème Anglaise, is irresistible. 260 Compo Rd. S.; laplagewestport.com
top: La Plage, though upscale, serves its coastal cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere with abundant water views of Long Island Sound bottom: Fried oysters
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
TIME TO GET COMFY Hudson Malone Kitchen + Bar
or a place that is trying to bring a bit of New York City to Westport, Hudson Malone has evoked Westport’s mythic past. (Might have something to do with the large portrait of a handsome young Paul Newman by the door.) With post and beams and walls crowded with framed photos and retro posters, Hudson Malone has transformed a formerly awkward space into a clubby, masculine bar and restaurant. In winter, tables and banquettes around the big stone fireplace are especially popular. The atmosphere calls for indulging in the “chop house” part of the menu. Tiger prawns are monsters, so ridiculously large that you have to order them just for that reason—to see them. It’s shrimp cocktail on steroids. The thick-cut bacon is a half-pound serving of sweet-peppery-salty excess. Hudson Malone updates 21 Club’s Speakeasy steak tartare, with minced filet mignon, mixed with shallots, capers, red chili and topped a trendy little quail egg. The thick steak au poivre is brought to the table in a sizzling cast iron pan, and the server slices it at the table. For sides, creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms—five different types. Everyone we talked to says, “I like this place.” (There’s a meatless Impossible Burger on the menu too.) 323 Main St.; hudsonmalone.com
“The golden rule prevails” — Quinn’s Laws
f there is such thing as a wheat nerd, it would be head baker and co-owner Brittany Moreno. Kneads is a bakery, café and mill in Saugatuck that opened in September 2020. The grains are sourced from an organic farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York, and they are ground on site—yes, right there on Saugatuck Avenue. Moreno says it brings out the fresh nutty flavors of the grains. The bread menu lists the types of flours, hard red spring, white or mixes. This is where to find that maple oat whole grain sourdough loaf you didn’t realize you were craving. The olive ficelle is our favorite addition to a cheese plate. Co-owner, Chef Daniel Moreno, and Brittany met working at Blue Hill at Stone Farms, which tells you how serious they are about locally sourced foods. Kneads also sell pastries and cookies, and there is always something new. On the food side, Kneads has an all-day breakfast menu and, just as nice, an all-day lunch one. If you’re at an excellent bakery, order a sandwich. At long last, a bahn mi, the Vietnamese-French spiced pâté and pickled vegetables, served on a real baguette instead of a soft bun. The roast beef baguette is made with grass-fed beef and greens dressed in horseradish vinaigrette. The lobster and peach roll is served on a soft milk bun. Kneads also brews drip coffee, espresso drinks and a wide selection of teas. 580 Riverside Ave.; kneadsbakerycafe.com
PHOTOGRAPHY FROM INSTAGRAM @HUDSONMALONEWESTPORT AND @HUDSONMALONENYC AND @KNEADS.WESTPORT
top row: Paul Newman’s portrait and Hudson Malone’s fresh prepared lobster middle row: Hudson Malone’s elevated take on meat and potatoes and its welcoming exterior
far left: Tabitha packs up fresh bread to go at the Westport location of Kneads right, top: Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad right, bottom: Freshly baked chocolate chunk cookies
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
THIS JUST IN
New and Renewed Food Shops, Cafés & More
top row: Lemon Meringue donut from Grammies Donuts and Biscuits • Pizza by the slice at Outpost Pizza in Westport bottom row: Romanacci Café in Saugatuck • Basso in downtown Westport
PHOTOGRAPHY: DONUT, GRAMMIESGFC.COM; PASTA, BASSOBISTROCAFE.COM; PIZZA, INSTAGRAM @ OUTPOSTPIZZA_WESTPORT, APPETIZER, INSTAGRAM @ROMANACCIPIZZA
Grammies Donuts and Biscuits (grammiesgfc.com) is an online order and pickup business that sells just what the name says, over-the-top donuts and cronuts, such as the marshmallow-studded Campfire. A half dozen of the buttermilk biscuits come with sides of jam, butter and gravy. Outpost Pizza (outpostpizza.com) has reopened in the same location (after the building was struck by a car) and is once again firing pizzas, tossing pastas and salads (333 Main St.) for delivery and pickup. Romanacci Café (romanacci.com/westport/index.php), an Italian restaurant and bar, opened at 46 Railroad Place, across from the train station, and offers a 3-to-6 p.m. happy hour. Basso (bassobistrocafe.com), a Mediterranean favorite with outdoor seating and live music, relocated from Norwalk to Westport, offering good times and good food. Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse, the former fine-dining Italian Steakhouse of Greenwich, to open next to the Westport Country Playhouse—the chef sears prime dry-aged steaks and sauces pastas, which are served in an upscale, white-table-clothed room, beneath dramatic chandeliers.
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PHOTOGRAPHY: EVENT BY KYLE NORTON; CREATE SIGN BY GARVIN BURKE; BUILDING AND EGGPLANT, CONTRIBUTED
top: Outdoor festivities above, left: Whipped eggplant off the excellent menu at The Wheel restaurant above, right: Art installations add to the creativity throughout below: A wide view of the renovated space
creators and connectors
The relentlessly optimistic and well-networked team behind Stamford’s mammoth development, the village, positions it at the center of it all
by chris hodenfield
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
efore he vowed to turn the city of Stamford into “the next Austin, the next Brooklyn,” Brent Montgomery was a kind of golden boy among TV producers. In a business where the most frequent dream is simply to get out of the next pitch meeting alive, he was the great persuader. With sunny likability and dazzling energy, he created, developed or oversaw over 100 TV series. He created an empire. Now he wants another. Right here. Brent Montgomery is only the latest media heavyweight to land in Stamford. The city is now fairly bursting with digitalstreaming-broadcast-whatever operations. Montgomery, who made his fortune with “unscripted” shows (once referred to as reality television) such as Pawn Stars, Queer Eye and Fixer Upper, took his gains and went not to outer space but to the city neighboring his Greenwich home, Stamford, where you can be sure the city authorities are receiving him with the toothiest of smiles. Why the welcome? Well, Montgomery just has a way of going large. He may already be responsible for at least 600 jobs moving here (jobholders who can afford the new apartments and houses), and he shows no signs of quitting. One partner in his endeavors is Jimmy Kimmel, the late-night comedianturned-investor. But the most important partner is Montgomery’s wife, Courtney, who knows how to take her energetic husband’s ideas and turn them into viable operations. This story is just as much about her rise in the real-estate world. Courtney likes the dynamic she shares with Brent. It was all on display not long ago at the grandest manifestation of their thinking, a beautiful new work/play building named The Village, located alongside the eastern canal in the entertainingly jumbled district of the South End. The former address of this site,
860 Canal Street, was changed to 4 Star Point. But stars aren’t the only point. A good crowd has assembled in the parking lot for the unveiling of a children’s mural about fifty feet high, and among the milling well-wishers were family and business partners and…kids? Yes, kids, because among the partnerships is a school. While Brent rushed around saying hello to family, Courtney watched on with fondness in her eye. Synergies run hot around these people. They never actually use the word, but it comes to mind as you contemplate their myriad ventures. As the curtain fell from the mural, Courtney, a Trumbull native, stood to the side. She met Brent in his early scuffling days when he was assisting production on MTV. “We worked on High School Stories, a prankreenactment show. Brent was on the creative side; I was on the operational side, dealing with logistics. We came together talking about The Bachelor, which at the time I was obsessed with. I was pumping him for information on the coming season.” A calm woman with an easy smile and blonde hair tumbling over her shoulders, she laughs at the thought.
Reinventing The Wheel
This meeting would lead to marriage and their grandest productions: three children, now between the ages of eight and three. Those kids led the family, as it has so many Fairfield County newcomers, out of the city and into the greenswards of Greenwich in 2014. “I decided to take a break from production and start investing in properties here and in L.A., places where my husband had TV shows,” says Courtney. “It was a natural transition to buy up all these properties in spots I knew and renovate them and resell them. I loved it. It was similar to what I was doing in television in the sense I was managing crews of people, schedules, budgets, and really needing to think quickly on my feet.”
In the buying and building of area properties, she partnered up with contractor Gary Zarra, who is now her partner in Wheelhouse Properties. The name is apt, as we’ll see, given the Montgomerys’ instinct for alliances, all spinning off like spokes of a wheel. Her company developed the five-story building with the intriguing wedge-shaped entryway. The design was by CPG Architects of Stamford. “Brent had the idea for this building, The Village. This is how we’ve always worked. He has a lot of ideas and is always kicking up something,” she says. “He had this idea and I stepped in—as I did in TV—as the executional arm.” Their first base of operation was a converted piano factory on the corner of Pacific and Dock. “If it’s left to my husband, he sees a much larger vision of Connecticut. For me, I just love having a place for our kids to see what we’ve created, and for others in the community.” The others in this particular community— the current spokes of the wheel—all come with a particular set of “But wait, there’s more!” provisos. The Village is host to a Cisco Brewers, the first Connecticut outpost for the famed Nantucket brewery. Then on the ground level, overlooking the water, is the signature restaurant, The Wheel, developed by APICII, the group that did Casa Apicii in New York and the Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles. The premier chefs are one thing, but, wait, a lot of the actual vittles are secured by The Village’s Chief Food Curator Mike Geller, head of Mike’s Organic, a local outfit that scours the local farms for the best meats and veggies and won’t stop at reaching out to the S’unaq tribe in Alaska for the best salmon. Geller is currently also at work on a new flagship store for Mike’s Organic in Greenwich at 600 E. Putnam Avenue. As the Montgomerys fit into the new local media ecosystem, so does Geller have a place in his food community. “It’s really about this ecosystem, this collection of small local
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KYLE NORTON
right: Brent and Courtney Montgomery— partners on the new work/play building, The Village, in the South End of Stamford
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
top: Mike Geller, chief food curator for The Village, and head of Mike's Organic below: The Waterside School mural by artist Patrick Ganino bottom: Plenty of outdoor event space
FOOD, PARTY AND MIKE BY KYLE NORTON MURAL PHOTO BY GARVIN BURKE: BUILDING, CONTRIBUTED
top: Mike Geller shows the garden to Waterside students above: White bean spread from The Wheel, the restaurant on the campus of The Village below: Long view of the multiuse building on the water
farmers and vendors,” he beams, pausing in the unveiling ceremony. Geller maintains beds of herbs on the roof of the building, where he also hosts “outdoor classroom” sessions for kids at the Stamford-based Waterside School to teach them about the food system and sustainability.
Go With The Flow
The Waterside School is an interesting venture only a few blocks from The Village. Built on land donated by Building and Land Technology (BLT), it was opened on September 11, 2001. (“So, talk about overcoming your adversity,” Brent says.) The operating principle was to provide quality education for disadvantaged children ranging from pre-K to fifth grade. In the twenty years since, it has witnessed some brilliant successes. It became connected to the “big wheel” two years ago when Brent, a child of educators, and Courtney walked into the school and asked what they could do. The busy day of the mural unveiling was also a day for the valedictory speech of Duncan Edwards, Waterside’s retiring executive director. Raised in the posh surrounds of the Brunswick School, his life mission became providing a Brunswick-like environment for Stamford kids more accustomed to flintier classes. With Brent and Courtney looking on and beaming, Edwards said a fond goodbye to the kids who came to cheer. Get the kids at their earliest, he likes to say. Later, in a reflective state, he recalled a second grader he met early on. “Bright, and just the right amount of devil,” he said. The parents were supportive and only wanted the best. “Completely different to Brunswick families, but also absolutely identical.” Edwards watched as the kid graduated, went on to get into other private schools, then Columbia. Now he is in his fourth year at Google and starting up an alumnae support fund so that other families can enjoy this opportunity.
“Everything at Waterside is impossible,” he smiles, “and then you run into people who think it’s doable.” Calling Brent “a generous thinker,” he says The Village is helping create a new reality for the neighborhood. “It used to be the wrong side of town. Soon it will be the right end of town.” To help with just that, Edwards has just taken a role with The Village as head of social impact to help deepen The Village’s roots in the community and give back and forge meaningful collaborations with education at the forefront, similar to that of the Waterside initiative. When Brent paused in the swirl of the day, he was asked what inspired him on his mission. He instantly nodded his head across the parking lot to a happy bunch and said, “Two women right over there. My mom, my sister. Along with my aunt and uncle, all educators.” His brother Tanner walked over and socked him on the arm. Brent grinned and jostled with him. “We were military brats, so that was probably a big part of it. Any place we went, we had to adapt.” The phrase used here often is “creative hub.” Notions of this amiable concentricity keep circling around in every conversation. “We want to have all the TV producers here and work with kids, teach them how to make television, how to make podcasts.” He put on the raffish sunbeams and said, “If any of them are crazy enough to want to learn how to do private equity at eight or nine years old, we got that covered. The whole idea of this building is to dream big, and why not do it with someone who’s young enough not to have the trappings of life.”
Location, Location, Location
In the early 1900s, the building housed a wire and cable company. This rejuvenation is just one more act in a long-running play about the changes of South End, which was once called Rippowam by the Siwanoy tribe, who, around 1650 saw visiting Englishmen
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
come by and sample their shellfish and then settle. In the 1870s it was called Hoytville. After Yale & Towne created a big factory, the neighborhood was referred to as Lock City. Office-equipment giant Pitney Bowes would enter the picture in 1917. By the 1980s, many of the abandoned factories had become lofts for artists, including the later recording star Moby. The location, still alternately funky and gleaming, was just too good to abandon. Thanks to massive building projects by BLT, it is now a thriving residential area and just ripe for the likes of the Montgomery team. It may not be Rockefeller Center, but it does have access to a picturesque marina out back. Most important, the South End provides plenty of great raw material for a selfwinding, grand-designing media magnate like Montgomery. Where does his kind come from, anyway? It was more than just San Antonio, Texas. Brent’s entrepreneurial drive was kick-started early by a helpful father, a military man who took his family around the country and was always there to assist in his sons’ enterprises. Mowing lawns? A baseball-card business? We can do that! “My father always wanted to do things beyond the military,” Brent says. “He was always inspiring me to take risks.” In Brent’s early scuffling days in Brooklyn, trying to get something going in TV, he became enamored of the man Walt Disney, who started as a humble animator and finished as a giant of American culture. “The great thing about Disney, as a business and an organization, is that it has a physical place for you to have an experience. Everybody talks now about being ‘experiential,’ but Walt Disney did that in the 1950s. And we joke that The Village is our version of Disneyland. You’ll meet all the Wheelhouse characters; you’ll meet the ITV characters. And for us, that’s where things really happen: in person, around the tables, around good food, around the drinks and conversation.” Before Wheelhouse, there were the years of conceiving and then selling the quirkiest of TV entertainments. Who knew that something like Pawn Stars, a reality show
Federation, CBS Interactive, Jerry Springer and the other media hothouses here, not to mention all the films in production. “I was giving a tour to a guy I really respect,” says Brent, “and he said, ‘You gotta think bigger with this place. You gotta think about Silicon Valley.’ And I started thinking. Why can’t Stamford be the Silicon Valley to Greenwich just like Silicon Valley is to San Francisco? And all of a sudden I started working with the governor and his team and the mayor and his team, just to woo and bring in some of the bigger businesses that were ready to move into the state in the last six months. I mean, the state has done an incredible job with Covid.” Stamford as Silicon Valley? Some might find that faintly amusing, but that’s the sort of energy that produces zeitgeist-altering, pop-culture hits.
“I think Stamford has the potential to be the next Nashville, Austin or Brooklyn,” he opines in the parking lot, a bouncing maelstrom of contagious energy. “And I think that’s only going to happen if a bunch of people come together with the right purpose. We’ve tried to partner with all the great local entrepreneurs who want a place that feels like it wants to reach national, global heights.” He offers a happy interrogation, as if to say: You get this? You coming along? I’ve only just met the guy and already he seems like an old pal. “I’ve met some really great people,” Brent adds, “and they’ve all said, ‘We just needed a place to go.’” Then someone in the celebrating crowd grabs him and pulls him off to other whirling conversations. He and Courtney have places to go.
ROOF GARDEN BY KYLE NORTON; BUILDING, CONTRIBUTED; THE KITCHEN BY NEIL LANDINO; GUITAR WALL BY GARVIN BURKE
about a twenty-four-hour pawn shop in Las Vegas, would be such a hit nineteen seasons later? As his company, Leftfield Pictures, racked up success after success, so would his company accumulate other production companies until it was the largest independent unscripted group in the United States at the time. In 2014, 80 percent of Leftfield was sold to ITV America for $360 million. Brent would run that operation for two years before launching Wheelhouse. ITV America would go on to snap up other production entities and become quite large. It now takes up the fourth floor of The Village. These simple statements do not reveal the sheer amount of talent now breathing in the Stamford air above that canal. Presumably, if they’re not dining in the Wheelhouse, they’ll be competing for table reservations with players from NBC Sports, World Wrestling
above: A view of Stamford from the rooftop garden below: Weather permitting, The Village is a great space for outdoor events right, top: The Chef's Kitchen on the fifth floor right, bottom: Guitar collection in the lounge on the fifth floor
BAR BY GARVIN BURKE: OTHERS BY NEIL LANDINO
top, left: The indoor bar on the fifth floor—one of multiple bars on-site top, right: Spaces can be outfitted for formal occasions below: The Village hosts live music performances—here, a lounge on the fifth floor
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
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LOBSTER ROLL BY JEREMY BRUGO; NEATBALLS BY KYLE NORTON, CONTRIBUTED; PIZZA BY MARY BLANK
above: Maine lobster with house tarragon on a brioche bun and sea salt fries below: Spring Rock Farms 'Wagyu' Meatballs right: Smoked ricotta and squash blossom pizza with heirloom cherry tomatoes and calabrian chili
The new restaurant at the buzz-worthy The Village offers creative and delicious fare for every palate by mary k at e ho g an
arm-to-table and waterfront are two categories that top diners’ wish lists. And The Wheel manages to check both boxes, striking an intersection of chic décor, a beautiful setting with water views and food sourced from local farms. In fact, some of the veggies and herbs the chefs use here could be called hyperlocal—they’re grown in the rooftop garden a few stories up. With an expansive bar and lounge, dining room and large patio that’s also a setting for pop-up events and live music, this
anchor of The Village in Stamford is a restaurant that serves many fabulous purposes. There’s an A-List team behind the food and beverage program with Mike Geller of Mike’s Organic acting as chief food curator, helping to source ingredients from forty local farms, fishermen and purveyors (all are listed on the back of the menu). From the cocktails to dessert, the dishes make the most of produce harvested from the garden. Beverage Director Kyle Tran, whose credits include The Aviary, a
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
James Beard award-winning cocktail bar, has created a lineup that makes a round of drinks a must. Most cocktails can also be mixed sans alcohol for those who prefer a mocktail. Try the Tahona Mule (orange blossom is the unexpected ingredient) and the Elderflower spritz, made with yuzu soda. We appreciated the versatile menu from Executive Chef Chris Shea, former executive chef of David Burke Kitchen in Manhattan. You can order a Neopolitan-style pizza from
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INTERIOR BY MARY BLANK; OTHERS, CONTRIBUTED
left: Root Beer Float with Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream, stout cake and Foxon Park root beer granita right, above: Beverage Director Kyle Tran right, below: The chic and inviting interior
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the hearth oven or a top-notch burger, but you can also splurge on oysters and indulge in an entrée like the ribeye with horseradish cream. While we were sitting outside at a recent dinner pondering the options, our server brought a snack of white bean spread with warm pita bread. So tasty. The burrata appetizer we tried featured fresh summery flavors: buttery cheese ringed by Adam’s Berry Farm strawberries and purple basil leaves from the garden with grilled sourdough slices to spread it on. It was luscious and, no doubt, the dish will be treated to a different seasonal presentation for the cooler months. Another starter we loved was the salmon crispy rice, heavenly bites that riff on sushi with raw salmon on top of the crunchy rice with jalapeno and a smoky soy “caramel” sauce adding to the appeal. We’ll order these every time. The blooming mushroom was a hit with the vegetarian in our group; it’s an Asian-style fried hen of the woods with togarashi sauce.
For our entrées, lighter dishes such as the Faroe Island salmon and heartier ones like the short ribs were equally well prepared. The short ribs, plated with fresh corn, baby spinach and mushrooms, are not heavy or overly sauced, allowing the flavor of the meat to shine through. The salmon is grilled and rests on a bed of chilled summer squash slices and a zucchini marmalade, a refreshing dish that’s likely to be tweaked for the winter season. Grilled skirt steak came out perfectly charred, topped with gardenfresh cilantro and red onions and served with a smoky tomato sauce. When a server urges me to try a chicken dish, I usually hesitate; but this brick chicken brined in Cisco beer and cooked in the hearth oven was outstanding, so juicy and served over broccoli rabe with tomatoes bursting with flavor. Creations by Pastry Chef Alessandra Altieri Lopez are prepared with finesse and creativity— and are worth the splurge. Salted caramel ice
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
cream sundae topped with caramel popcorn and hot chocolate sauce poured from a ceramic sake flask? Yes, please. The pistachio cheesecake with blueberry sauce won raves, too, even from those in our group who aren’t into cheesecake; it’s light and not cloyingly sweet. As we were getting ready to leave on this Saturday night, our server let us know that jazz brunch would be launching the next day with live music and a mix of savory and sweet dishes ranging from banana-buttermilk bread and strawberry-rhubarb brioche French toast to a lox plate, steak and eggs and a lobster roll. So, we joked, same table tomorrow morning? One more reason to give The Wheel a turn.
The Wheel 4 Star Point, 475-270-1300; thevillagewheel.com HOURS Dinner Wednesday to Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. Dinner Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m. Brunch Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Keeping the music flowing at cisco brewers at The Village by scott thomas
“I want people to feel connected with their fellow audience members and the people on stage,” he says. “Whether the song is upbeat or a ballad, it’s important for people to feel like they aren’t alone in this human experience.” That goal is hard, especially in a postpandemic society where people were closed off from one another—and live music—for more than a year. “That’s why the value of live music is so crucial,” Tuohy says. “People are so enthusiastic at these concerts. Live music is important now, more than ever.” Tuohy describes Hudson Delta—the album and the music genre—as a mix of “metropolitan attitude with Americana.” Tuohy, who grew up in Southbury, has lived in New York City for nearly two decades. But he also has a Southern musical flavor to his music. “I’ve heard people call it ‘Skyscraper Blues,’ ” Tuohy says. “Hudson is a reference to the city I love, and Delta is the music I play. Also, New York City is the delta of the Hudson. The name indicates my love for the Big Apple and the music I play.” His musical roots date back to his “days in the crib,” he says. “I caught the bug very early.” His first concert was at a church social, but his career took off after graduating from Emerson College. “I always knew I wanted to do this for a career,” said Tuohy, who opened for several acts in Stamford’s Alive at 5 over the years. “There was no Plan B. If there is, you usually take it.” Tuohy’s musical career stalled in 2009 when a record deal fell through and he went to work as a bartender at Cowgirl Seahorse in the Big Apple’s South Street Seaport. It took westportmag.com
above: Cisco Brewers Entertainment Manager Jeff Tuohy
a few years, but he reemerged with a style audiences enjoy and that supports his career. “While working with a label, I had financial support. I had to figure out how to make my art my commerce,” he said. He brings the same eclectic mix that defines his music to Cisco Brewers. It’s entertaining, popular and creative. That’s a winning combination for any artist. “It’s a beautiful setting with a patio on the water, and I’m bringing in the people that I’ve met during my traveling career,” he said. “We’re bringing a variety of musicians that audiences at The Village’s are really going to enjoy.”
onnectivity is not a word that is frequently used in artistic circles. The word is more commonly used when discussing information technology and electrical systems, but Jeff Tuohy’s eclectic musical skills focus on connecting to audiences. And he’s really good at it. Tuohy programs music for Cisco Brewers at The Village in Stamford. The Nantucketbased brewery opened in May, becoming the first Connecticut location. Tuohy schedules a diverse lineup, with everything from country and tribute nights to brass bands and Latin ensembles. He also recently embarked on a tour that features songs from his new album, Hudson Delta. On stage is where Tuohy unleashes a powerful voice, creative songwriting and energetic showmanship to bring the venue alive.
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EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT A-List Awards................................................................................................. 49 Fallen Patriots Gala........................................................................................ 91 Light A Fire Event........................................................................................... 67 Ridgefield Playhouse......................................................................................95 TMK Sports & Entertainment, Reindeer Festival...........................................92 Westport Historical Society Holly Days......................................................... 14 Westport Country Playhouse......................................................................... 31 Westport Rotary Lobster Fest........................................................................88
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HEALTH, HOSPITALS & BEAUTY Artistex Salon & Spa....................................................................................... 11 The Greens at Cannondale.............................................................................. 8 Hospital for Special Surgery............................................................................ 7 MPR Fitness...................................................................................................43 ART, DECORATING & HOME FURNISHINGS Contemporary Art Modern Project....................................................... Cover 3 Eleish Van Breems.......................................................................................... 17
JEWELRY Henry C. Reid Jewelers �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������13 Lux Bond & Green ����������������������������������������������������������������������������� Cover 2, 1 Manfredi Jewels...............................................................................................5 NON-PROFIT Breast Cancer Alliance................................................................................... 51 Connecticut Humane Society..........................................................................8 Elephant Sanctuary.......................................................................................94 Planned Parenthood......................................................................................92 Salvation Army - Bell Ringer..........................................................................39
REAL ESTATE & SENIOR LIVING LCB Senior Living........................................................................................... 21 Willliam Raveis-Shelton HQ...................................................................Cover 4 MISCELLANEOUS Bob Capazzo Photography............................................................................ 10 Drew Klotz...................................................................................................... 77 Flowcode........................................................................................................ 86 Westy Self Storage......................................................................................... 39
203.438.5795 • RIDGEFIELDPLAYHOUSE.ORG
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 WESTPORT
NOV/DEC 2021 / DONNA MOFFLY
One turkey I knew would never end up on a platter. His name was Harley.
t’s the holiday season and time to talk turkey. Of course, there are all kinds of turkeys. Some people are real turkeys; we all know a few. Then there are the wild turkeys that the pilgrims counted on. I’ve run into some of those, too. Run into, that is, not over. One year, five wild types showed up on our kitchen terrace on Thanksgiving morning. Not great timing, except they must have known we were harmless. Then there was the one that landed in the parking lot across from our office on Lewis Street in Greenwich. I watched from my window while squad cars roared up, the police circled the poor thing and an old lady waved her umbrella at it. Quite the to-do, but when it finally had had enough, it simply flew off to sit on a rooftop on Mason Street. I don’t know what kind of turkeys President Biden will be pardoning this year, so let’s just talk about the big fluffy brown or white ones with the red wattles—those good enough to eat or keep as pets. The first turkey I remember fed twenty people. He (or she) was enormous and was raised, personally, by my father and his best friend, Charlie Davidson. They both loved pranks. Once in Detroit on a business trip, they bought a pony for the Davidson children and drove it all the way home to Cleveland standing up in the back seat of Dad’s convertible. Next the men decided they would raise turkeys—at Uncle Charlie’s house, which was in the country (we lived in the city). Hearing turkeys catch cold easily, they strung chicken wire (turkey wire?) a few inches off the floor in his guest room to keep their feet warm, and there they grew—three of them. The deal was that since they were being raised at Uncle Charlie’s house, they would be eaten at ours. But there was a hitch: The lone survivor had grown so huge that it wouldn’t fit into the westportmag.com
oven in our apartment. Never mind. Just down the street at Shaker Square was a Stouffer’s Restaurant; and my parents knew the Stouffer brothers, Vernon and Gordie, who obligingly had it roasted for us. Then the head of the men’s locker room at the country club arrived in a white jacket to carve it up by candlelight. It was some impressive scene. After that, we always had lobster for Thanksgiving, because my father had gotten so sick of eating nothing but poultry at all those business lunches during World War II. Early Thanksgiving morning, a giant tin of lobsters and clams would arrive from Damariscotta, Maine. Then someone would punch holes in the lid and set it to steam on the kitchen stove, while our cook stared at it suspiciously from a safe distance, saucer-eyed. But there was one turkey I knew would never end up on a platter. His name was Harley and belonged to our daughter (Audrey) and husband (Drew Klotz), along with a bunch of other rescued animals in Weston. I had heard that turkeys were dumb, with little pea brains, but, boy, was Harley smart. And unbelievably social. Harley was always beside you, listening in on your conversations, contributing the occasional gobble. He would follow you around the yard, becoming visibly ruffled when you got too far ahead of him, and would squawk furiously if the kids left him way behind when they would run around to the other side of the house to smack a piñata at a birthday party. He couldn’t waddle very fast. But dressed in a little white tuxedo bib, he managed to precede Audrey and Drew up the grass path between the art studio and the pigpen when they renewed their vows on their seventh wedding anniversary. We were all devastated when Harley went to the big turkey coop in the sky. In any case, have happy holiday dinners, whatever your menu may be.
VENTURE PHOTO PHOTOGRAPHY, CREDIT GREENWICH, CT
OF TURKEYS AND TRADITION
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