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frontline heroes

Bea Ruberto, Brianna Florio and Mary McKeown show off the new ‘Signature Dishes of Sound Beach and Beyond’ cookbook, with proceeds going to a frontline worker tribute. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Sound Beach Civic Association wanted to do something for local essential workers, and everyone knows that food brings people together.  

Bea Ruberto, president of the civic, said early last year the group wanted to do a tribute to the frontline and essential workers at an adopted spot they take care of on New York Avenue.  

Although still a concept, the plan is to plant a small tree with a memorial stone in front of it to honor all the people who risked their lives. 

But due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the civic was unable to do typical fundraising to make the tribute happen. So, instead, they decided to create a cookbook, “Signature Dishes of Sound Beach and Beyond,” for donations. 

“Because the civic is a not-for-profit, we are asking for a donation of $20 and then they get the book,” Ruberto said.  

The cookbook, which came out officially earlier this month, is dedicated to all the people who kept everybody safe throughout the coronavirus crisis, and features a section devoted solely to the local heroes. 

Ruberto and her group began reaching out to civic members and others in the Sound Beach community asking them to send in their favorite family dishes.  

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Initially, we wanted it to be just people in Sound Beach, but we weren’t getting enough recipes,” she said. “So, then we reached out beyond that, which included friends of people who live in Sound Beach, families of people who live in Sound Beach, and this is how it came together.” 

She added that by the end of production — which took about four months to put together — 64 people submitted 220 recipes for the 150-page book. 

Sound Beach resident Mary McKeown submitted the most recipes — 15 of them — and would reach out to Ruberto often to ask what kind of recipe she needed. 

“I just love all the people we’ve met here, and just to be a part of everybody doing it all together has just been great fun,” McKeown said.  

Brianna Florio, also of Sound Beach, volunteered to create the cover and drew the concept drawing for what the tribute at the adopted spot will look like when completed. 

“I think she did a beautiful job,” Ruberto said.  

The black-and-white cover features a local beach with a picnic basket and birds flying in the background.  

The 22-year-old said she took a photo of the Long Island Sound and then used her Photoshop skills to add the details.  

As of right now, more than 100 books have been sold to people throughout the whole country. 

“I actually I got an email from somebody who saw this on Facebook from North Carolina,” Ruberto said. “And he wanted to gift it to his mom who used to live in Sound Beach.” 

Ruberto said that the cookbook will appease all different types of palates because there is so much variety, but the classics still remain. 

On page 142, there is a recipe from two local boys for one of their favorites: pea-nut butter and jelly.  

Ruberto said the first batch of books has all been taken, but the civic is currently ordering more. Those who are interested in making a $20 donation to receive the “Signature Dishes of Sound Beach and Beyond” can email [email protected] or call 631-744-6952.