Be the Change You Want to Be and See at WFEH

The Wellness Foundation of East Hampton’s benefit on June 18 will feature a vegan menu.


Jay Astafa 2

The summer months bring a full round of fundraisers to the East End. If there is one to sink your wallet and teeth into it’s the Wellness Foundation of East Hampton summer benefit on June 18 at Mulford Farm in East Hampton.

Founded in 2005, the foundation’s mission is to give our community the power to live well through optimal nutrition, physical activity, stress management and social connection. At the onset, WFEH was focused on supporting a vegan lifestyle but in the past two years has evolved to appreciate and support everyone with a different starting point. Still, a plant based diet is central to their educational model. I am good with that!

In a recent conversation with foundation president and CEO, Michele Sacconaghi, I asked two important questions, given how saturated the Hamptons are with benefits and galas: 1) How will this year’s event differ from years past, and 2) How will it inform the future work of WFEH?

According to Sacconaghi, past benefits have honored individuals outside our community, “But this year will celebrate the partners in our own backyard.” Brava! “If we don’t celebrate our community partners and how important it is to collaborate on this shared mission, then what kind of message are we sending,” she adds. As I always say, be the change you want to be and see.

How will this event inform the work of its beneficiary? All money stays in our community. One third of the organization’s total budget is raised through this benefit and 100 percent of it is allocated to free programs in East End schools that serve 1,000 children each year. To note, WFEH is part of Give Where You Live, a campaign to support charitable organizations on the East End. So let’s be sure to give where we live!

Given my culinary prowess, I had to ask Sacconaghi about the menu. As it turns out, fellow Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts graduate Jay Astafa, a young chef who describes his food as vegetable forward cuisine and comfort food re-imagined, will ignite your tastebuds and have you begging for more greens and beans! But don’t worry, he won’t preach about eating more plants, he will just show you how. My kinda guy.

Jay Astafa 3

Moving forward, the Wellness Foundation aims to do everything it can to create a year round community, where a truly healthy lifestyle is supported, socioeconomics aside. They want to create inspiration, a support system and sustainable tools so everyone can be successful at health. Well, count me in!

Perhaps our collective vision can be realized. Hope you can be at Mulford Farm, 10 James Lane, East Hampton on June 18 at 6 p.m. I will be—with bells on!

Passed Bites
Fresh cashew mozzarella caprese pops
Barbecue jackfruit tacos and lime crema and purple cabbage
Artichoke leaf and oyster mushroom ceviche and crème fraîche and seaweed caviar
Mini seitan-beet burger
Crostini and mint sorrel pesto and green peas
Raw mini pizza bites
Melon gazpacho shooters and eggplant bacon and borage

Superfood martini salad
Vegetable Garden: Crudités planted in edible dirt, served with watering containers of green goddess and ranch dressing.
Plant Based Sushi Station: spicy tomato “tuna” roll: shiitake and kale roll; lobster mushroom roll” watermelon “tuna” nigiri; yellow pepper nigiri, eggplant nigiri

Passed sweets
Strawberry rhubarb pie pops
Coconut panna cotta and blueberries
Mocha chocolate ice cream cones




Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN is a culinary nutritionist, author, consultant, speaker and food firebrand! She has a master’s of science in nutrition from Columbia University, is a certified nutrition specialist, certified dietitian nutritionist and is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. Stefanie works hands-on with individuals and groups seeking a healthier way of eating. For companies and organizations looking to do the right thing for their consumers and environment, Stefanie is the go-to-gal; her background in food and agriculture as well as health and wellness gives her the knowledge and skills to guide groups towards true food transparency, sustainability and ultimately health. Her book, What The Fork Are You Eating? An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate (Tarcher/Penguin Random House) provides an aisle-by-aisle rundown of how to shop and cook healthier. She is a guest expert on the topic of healthy choices on the Dr. Oz Show, PBS, Fox Media, and multiple radio programs. She hosts her own radio show, Stirring the Pot, on Hamptons NPR, WPPB 88.3FM. Her extensive online and print contributions include the Huffington Post, Alternet, Family Circle, Prevention,, and To stay connected with Stefanie, sign up for her blog and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.