You won’t find my grandmother’s name—Nettie Gallo—on the masthead to the right of this letter, but you will find her fingerprints all over this and every other page. Over the past eight years that I’ve served as editor of this magazine, my grandmother has worked right alongside me. She’s offered me her ear for brainstorming, her home for a quiet place to write, and most importantly a constant reminder of our title’s tagline: Celebrating the Harvest of the Hamptons and North Fork. “Always remember,” she’d say, at the start of each issue, “that you are in the business of celebrating.”
For years, her words registered with me as a sort of unintended insult. I wanted so desperately to be a serious writer, to tell stories that mattered, to put together an important and beautiful magazine. I wanted to be so much more than ‘in the business of celebrating’—but that’s only because, unlike my grandmother, I didn’t understand the true sense of the word. I didn’t know that ‘celebrate’ comes from the Latin word ‘celebrare,’ meaning ‘to honor.’ I didn’t get that, in the end, celebrating and honoring are the most important jobs I or anyone could have.
There is so much to celebrate in this issue. In Aquebogue, we join the Massoud family at Paumanok Vineyards as they celebrate the winery’s 40th anniversary. In Eastport, we visit the women whose businesses are transforming the once-sleepy hamlet into a destination of its own. In East Hampton, we join event planner Jill Gordon as she brings the most beautiful, joyous celebrations to life. We honor Shelter Island and all its natural and gastronomical attractions with a staycation itinerary that requires just two things: your appetite and a bike. We meet farmers growing weed, chefs cooking bluefish, and brewers making beer that both connects and delights.
Because here we are, together on our warming, warring planet, having just survived a pandemic and long, violent periods of political unrest—and still we’re planning parties, still we’re cooking dinner, still we’re going on vacation and gathering with friends.
I summon this same resilience today as I sit at my desk and compose this letter, three days after my beloved grandmother’s death. This is the first issue of Edible East End she won’t see published, the first issue she won’t get to hold in her knobbly, 94-year-old hands—and it’s also the first issue I am finishing now entirely in her celebration.
Because, as she was always so quick to remind me, I am in the business of celebrating. And so here I am, giving it everything I have.
Wishing you and your family so much to celebrate this summer and always,