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(Photo credit: Doug Young)

Something you’ll pick up pretty quickly on the East End is the people here are more often than not pretty passionate about something. Small towns tend to bring that out in its residents and visitors. Part of it is the beauty of the place and how much it inspires us, either to create or preserve what we’re lucky to have. 

The other part of it: Our proximity to each other — going into a store and seeing the same shopkeepers for years on end (you’ll love our piece celebrating local hardware stores). Chatting with the same checkout person at the grocery. The great smile from your favorite waiter or person you wait on. It creates this thread between us all, no matter how we wound up here (which are always interesting stories in and of themselves), no matter if we agree or disagree, no matter if we were born here or were drawn from somewhere else. We’re all part of the ebb and flow of our water-rimmed home, or home away from home.

I often find myself running late around here — not because my watch stopped, but because I seem to find myself stopping and talking (at length) to people, curious about their stories, asking questions (maybe too many), swapping experiences. But when there’s such richness around you, it’s hard not to dip into it whenever it presents itself. It’s why this issue was so much fun to put together — in many ways, it’s that amazing community around us that created everything you’ll read and see on these pages. 

The addictive bluefish boquerones at Mostrador Marram. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

When pulling together this month’s Cook This Now! column, it’s what inspired our photographer and writer Doug Young to linger around the mostrador counter, munching on chef Stefano Mastracchio’s bluefish boquerones on the stunning grounds of Marram Montauk, the super-chill, 96-room hotel and toes-in-the-sand, South American-inspired dining concept, where our gorgeous cover was shot.

When my friend and Westhampton Beach resident Ray Dowd implored me to put together a story on the much-missed chef Starr Boggs at just over a year since his passing, I saw his wisdom in wanting to honor what Boggs meant to so many chefs and friends on the South Fork. (A big shout out to his sister, Odell Bundick, and brother, Joe Boggs, for their generous help and glimpses into their brother’s early years, as well as Judy Carroll for helping us out with some treasured photos.) Ray’s a successful attorney now, passionate about righting the wrongs of Nazi-stolen art, but back in the day, he worked the floor and the kitchen with Starr. It was a story I wanted to write myself, but in my gut I knew the wonderful Charity Robey would do such a beautiful job of getting to the heart of his influence, and she really did. It’s a beautiful piece remembering one of our most passionate taste makers and his huge influence on East End cooking.

There’s the lovely, thoughtful interior designer, Cristina Peffer, whose newly relaunched shop Ram Design Home on Shelter Island is a tactile, heart-full place to fill your home with things you never knew you needed (but you do!). The story, written by stellar staffer Emily Toy, goes into Peffer’s world of making a house a warm and welcoming home. And the care and precision that family-owned firm John David Rose Architect puts into restoring some of the region’s fading structural beauties is no less an act of love, either — storyteller Lana Bortolot dove into the details of their fascinating work.

The magnificent Montauk Point Lighthouse. (Photo credit: David Benthal)

And talk about passion — the folks who keep the lights on at the Montauk Point Lighthouse deserve a standing ovation. I was humbled when I visited and spoke with Greg Donohue and Joe Gaviola, seeing first-hand the work they and the Montauk Historical Society recently completed on the land and the lighthouse, an incredibly complex, hard-won revetment and renovation.

But there are a multitude of super interesting, prolifically passionate people in the pages that follow. If you’re not already acquainted with them, you’re going to want to be (and if you’re late for your next appointment because you took the time to get to know them better, just blame me — I’m totally cool with that). 

Thanks for reading, South Fork friends and neighbors! And away we go…

Amy Zavatto, editor-in-chief