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Books & Corks

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The Bates House in Setauket was brimming with book and food lovers the evening of Sept. 24.

TBR News Media hosted its 2nd annual Cooks, Books & Corks event at the venue, with 100 ticket holders in attendance to chat with 17 authors and to sample entrées, desserts and beverages from 18 establishments. Cellist Alison Rowe was on hand to provide the background music.

The event was organized to raise funds for a paid intern for TBR’s six newspapers next summer. The intern will be selected from students attending Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. Ticket holders had the opportunity to stroll through the Bates House to sample food and chat with authors, as well as buy books. A few of the attending writers even took to the stage to describe their works to the audience.

During the event, publisher Leah Dunaief thanked the crowd for attending, and she said after last year’s Cooks, Books & Corks she received many compliments, including that it was a highly dignified event, and she hoped those in attendance found this one just as grand and exciting.

Laura Lindenfeld, interim dean of SBU School of Journalism and executive director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, attended the event.

“What an important time to be involved in journalism,” she said, addressing the attendees.

Lindenfeld said the opportunity to work with SBU journalism students was amazing, and she said they tell “important stories grounded in truth.”

As the author of “Feasting Our Eyes: Food Films and Cultural Identity in the United States,” the interim dean said she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to attend Cooks, Books & Corks. She said those involved were building community, a word she said ties into communication.

“I love the idea that the word communication comes from the word community,” she said. “It’s about a sense of belonging, being together and making meaning together. And I can see that happening in this room here.”

Lindenfeld thanked the attendees for supporting the fundraiser for an intern to have the opportunity to get experience in the field.

“We just want to get them out in the world, telling good stories that make a difference and then help us really be open to change,” she said.

Dr. Laura Lindenfeld will be the guest speaker at the 2nd annual Cooks, Books & Corks

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

You are invited on a date. The night is Tuesday, Sept. 24, the time is 6 to 8 p.m., and the place is the Bates House opposite the Emma Clark Library on Main Street in Setauket. On behalf of Times Beacon Record News Media — that’s us! — I am inviting you and your loved ones and friends to a fun community event. This one, the 2nd annual Cooks, Books & Corks, will feed both your body and mind.

Here’s the deal.

Some 18 fine restaurants and caterers are coming together to offer you delicious specialties from their menus, washing it all down with a selection of wines, and a dozen-and-a-half local authors are bringing their latest books for you to peruse and perhaps buy that evening. It’s Dutch treat at $50 a ticket, and the proceeds will go to a summer fellowship for a journalism student. In this way, you can help a young person take a paid step toward his or her ultimate career even as you help yourself to a scrumptious dinner and a literary treat that encourages local authors. And you will be helping us, the hometown news source, staff up a bit at a time when our regular team members tend to take vacations.

Here are some of the details.

The food will be supplied by these generous eateries: The Fifth Season, Old Fields, Pentimento, Elegant Eating, Sweet Mama’s, Zorba the Greek, Fratelli’s Bagel Express, Prohibition Port Jefferson, Toast Coffeehouse, Villa Sorrento, Lauren’s Culinary Creations, Sunrise of East Setauket Senior Living, Southward Ho Country Club, Sunflower Catering & Event Planning. Fishers Island Lemonade and Luneau USA will supply drinks. Desserts will be sweetly taken care of by, among others, Kilwins and Leanne’s Specialty Cakes. I’m salivating just typing the list. Start fasting. Come hungry.

Local authors include Jeannie Moon, Marcia Grace, Jeannine Henvey, Susan Van Scoy, Angela Reich, Ty Gamble, Dina Santorelli, Elizabeth Correll, Suzanne Johnson, Joanne S. Grasso, Rabbi Stephen Karol, Kerriann Flanagan Brosky, Michael Mihaley, Carl Safina, Mark Torres, Michael Hoffner and Linda Springer. People will be able to meet and greet with the authors and request book signings. Why would anyone want to write a book? How does one go about the process? Getting it published? Having it distributed? Would they recommend doing so to would-be authors? This is an awesome assortment of local talent to have in one room at one time.

A few remarks will be shared by Laura Lindenfeld, the interim dean of SBU School of Journalism and executive director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Gentle background music will be handled by the talented Three Village Chamber Players. And there will be the usual basket raffles.

A special and huge thank you to Laura Mastriano of L.A. Productions Events.

Now we need you!

To purchase tickets, please visit our website tbrnewsmedia.com or our TBR News Media Facebook page to pay with PayPal.

We also need sponsors who would like to support and be associated with this “high tone” event — as one of the vendors put it last year — to please contact us. Sponsorships may be had starting at $125 and will feature your name and logo in our newspapers, social media and our website, including a major “thank you” ad after the event. First one just in is Andy Polan, talented optician and owner at Stony Brook Vision World. And a big thank you to Camelot Party Rentals for their in kind donation. We would welcome your call at the newspaper office at 631-751-7744 or email [email protected]

So come share in a delightful and satisfying event with lots of good food, good drink and good conversation. We hope you will follow up with visits to the participating eateries and caterers who have given of their time and specialties, and that you will enjoy reading your new books. We think when you leave the beautiful Bates House, you will be proud that you live in the area. And it certainly beats cooking dinner on a Tuesday night.

Award winning author and conservationist Carl Safina was the guest speaker at last year's event. Photo by Rita J. Egan
Leah Dunaief

By Leah S. Dunaief

The world has changed for all of us since we entered the 21st century. While our computers didn’t blow up as the millennium turned, the horrific attacks on 9/11 forever, it seems, altered our sense of safety in our country and elsewhere on the globe. The arrival of the internet on desktop computers, the proliferation of cellphones, the rise of social media — they have upended the architecture of our lives.

Change has been no less dramatic in our work lives. For those of us in the news business, the basic business model is disappearing. Once upon a time the publisher brought together talented reporters and editors with an articulate sales staff, and together editorial and advertising were presented to the reader in an attractive format that informed and enriched the community. In the process, the news organization was also enriched, and there were newspapers everywhere. The biggest challenge was beating competitors to the “scoop” and gaining the greater market share of advertisers.

Today that simple business plan seems like a fairy tale. According to data in a special section of The New York Times on Sunday, “Over the last 15 years, about 2100 local newspapers — or roughly a quarter of all local newsrooms — have either merged with a competitor or ceased printing …About 6800 local newspapers continue to operate across the country, but many are shells of their former selves, with pared down staffs and coverage areas. About half of the remaining local papers are in small and rural communities, and the vast majority distribute fewer than 15,000 copies of each edition.” 

I could go on with the statistics, but here’s the point: If we don’t embrace change, we get left behind.

Chef Guy Reuge speaks about his latest book, ‘A Chef’s Odyssey,’ at last year’s Cooks, Books & Corks. Photo by Rita J. Egan

So it is that we at Times Beacon Record Newspapers have become TBR News Media, with the addition of a website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube platforms to accommodate the various demands for news and advertising. After all, we work for our customers and we must offer them what they want and need. By the same token, while maintaining those platforms has increased our costs, the revenue they generate is minimal. Further worsening the newspaper situation is the demise of the traditional mom-and-pop retail stores, the previous backbone of so many communities and community newspapers.

So we have changed, as the surviving retailers have changed. We, and they, are now building events into our offerings, much as we used to publish supplements to target specific subjects and advertising niches for our papers. Retailing now includes some aspect of entertainment with their event planning, and publishing companies, whether in print or digital, must also provide entertaining events.

Fortunately for us at TBR, we can make this fit with our mission statement to give back to the community, and indeed to endeavor to strengthen the sense of community where we publish. Since our first year in existence, over 43 years ago, we have held the Man and Woman of the Year event at the Three Village Inn, with the financial help of Stony Brook University and the Lessings, at which we have saluted those who go the extra mile offering their products, services or time to their neighbors in their hometowns.

For the last two years, we have produced and directed films with authentic Revolutionary War narrative at Stony Brook’s Staller Center to share pride in our Long Island history, explaining who we were at the dawn of our country and how we got here.

Coming next on the events list is Cooks, Books and Corks, a community-enriching program that features scrumptious food from some of our local restaurants at stations around the perimeter of a room at the Bates House filled with local authors and their books. We started this last year, and it was such a success that both restaurateurs and authors offered themselves on the spot for the next such gathering. They said they liked “the high tone.”

Therefore, the Second Annual Cooks, Books and Corks will take place in the same bucolic location, in Setauket, on Tuesday evening, Sept. 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. The charge is $50 per person, and the money raised will go toward subsidizing the pay of a journalism intern next summer.

Please mark your calendars and join neighbors and friends at this event to share food for both body and mind. 

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Sometimes one gets by with a little help from their friends, or in other cases, book lovers, foodies and wine aficionados.

Times Beacon Record News Media hosted the Cooks, Books & Corks Fundraiser at The Bates House in Setauket June 12. Attendees had the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes from restaurants and caterers from across the North Shore, meet local authors and sample wines from Whisper Vineyards. The proceeds raised from the event will underwrite a summer internship with TBR News Media for a student from Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism.

Howard Schneider, founding dean of SBU’s School of Journalism, talked to the audience about the importance of the summer internship and journalism in today’s world. He referenced a recent Gallup poll where 60 percent of Americans said it’s difficult to decide what’s true, and they are overwhelmed by the information and misinformation they read.

“So, I tell you this because the fundraising portion of this dinner is to support a young journalist who will work with the Times Beacon Record newspapers, who will learn their craft and also do some important local journalism,” he said. “Because good journalism is not only about Albany and Washington, it’s about holding our local officials accountable for how they spend our money; it’s about whether we’re drinking safe water here in this community; it’s about whether our children are safe in school. And we need good journalists on the ground, starting here, to do that.”

The event featured keynote speakers Carl Safina and chef Guy Reuge. Safina, the first endowed professor for nature and humanities at SBU, has written several books about what he calls the nonhuman world. Reuge, owner of Mirabelle Restaurant in Stony Brook, recently penned the book, “A Chef’s Odyssey.”

Safina read an excerpt from his most recent book “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel,” a piece he said he picked to honor Father’s Day. He said part of the book is about wolves, which he said are very instructive.

Reuge spoke to the audience about the process of writing and publishing his book with his wife’s uncle Philip Palmedo, which he said was rewarding in many ways.

“It was easy,” he said about the writing. “It took about seven or eight months to do. It really wasn’t that difficult.”

He said the recipes were tricky though, because one has to be precise, and he wanted to make sure he included some from his restaurant.

One of the authors who had a table at the event was TBR News Media proofreader John Broven. He said he appreciated the opportunity to chat with potential readers and listening to the speakers.

“It was a privilege to be a part of such a harmonious evening for an excellent cause,” he said. “Howard Schneider’s stirring speech in defense of real journalism was appropriately thought-provoking during the fundraiser.”

Publisher Leah Dunaief said TBR News Media looks forward to the second Cooks, Books & Corks next year. The event was coordinated by Evelyn Costello and sponsored by Michael Ardolino, George Rehn, The Bates House and Simple Party Designs. For more photos, visit www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

This year the real March Madness wasn’t basketball. It was the number of nor’easters we in the Northeast endured. This will forever be the year of the nor’easters, one right after the other with snowfalls, flooding and especially the high winds. Many old trees are no longer with us. As the first quarter of the new year ends, we are hopeful that the old adage, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” will prove to be true. The forecasts are promising.

We have some exciting plans for the community that we believe will further enliven the next quarter of the year. On June 12, TBR News Media — that’s us — will offer a new event. It is called Cooks, Books & Corks, and it will be held at the Bates House in Setauket. For those who might not know the location, it is that lovely house inside Frank Melville Park, near the Mill Pond, usually used for wedding receptions, and it can be reached via a driveway opposite the Emma Clark Library and just past the two entrance roads to Strong’s Neck. We will have balloons and signage marking the way.

So what is Cooks, Books & Corks? It is to be a grand marriage of mind and body on a joyful June Tuesday evening, from 6 to 9 p.m., that will combine good food from local restaurants with good books by local authors, all of which will go down easily with some good wine. We are encouraging the restauranteurs to bring tastings of their favorite dishes and the authors to offer their books for sale throughout the event. The views from the bluestone patio and the picture window are beautiful and serene in the middle of the woods, and we will hope for a soft, summer breeze to erase all memories of past nor’easters.

Besides being just plain fun and a forum for our local restaurants, local wineries and celebrated authors, Cooks, Books & Corks is a fundraiser intended to pay for an intern from the Stony Brook University School of Journalism this summer. We have held such fundraisers for that purpose in the past, and the internships have helped launch several young journalists into their careers. Tickets will be $50 per person for the food and wine, and although not tax deductible, all funds will go toward paying the intern. The cost of any books you might choose to buy will be up to you. We hope there will be irresistible books for children offered for sale as well as for us adults.

Further, a ticket to Cooks, Books & Corks will enable the purchaser to have a reserved seat at the Stony Brook premiere of our film, “One Life to Give,” to be held on June 24, a Sunday evening. The film is a prequel of sorts to the story of the Culper Spy Ring that played a vital role in the Revolutionary War. Headquartered in Setauket, Washington’s spies fed critical intelligence to the Patriots of such high value that, in one instance, information enabled French soldiers to disembark safely from their ships and join the fight in the colonies. The cable channel, AMC, ran popular stories of the spies, “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” for four seasons, which ended last year. Our full-length film, by contrast, endeavors to be historically authentic.

More details about the premiere will be forthcoming. I do want to give you this heads-up for the coming enjoyable events we have planned for the community. We think they will make you proud of where you live. And why do we do this? That’s easy. We’re committed to strengthening the sense of community because we are the community paper. And website. And social media. And now producers of historical films. Happy Spring!