Tag Archives: Bill Taibe

Roundup: Club 203, Native Plants, Cohl Katz …

Club 203 — the new Westport organization providing social and fun activities for adults with disabilities — launched with a bang Wednesday night.

Over 100 people gathered at MoCA for the kickoff event. DJ Joe’s great playlist got everyone on the dance floor from the moment they arrived.

The dance floor was filled.

Participants came from as far as Middlebury, Connecticut. DJ Joe rocked the night! Everyone was in on the dance floor. MoCA, The Porch at Christie’s, CVS for providing the venue and snacks. We would also like to thank all the volunteers from our community who helped us last night. We could not have done it with out them!

Hanging with the DJ …

Club 203 organizers Stacie Curran, Kathryn Sonne, Joe Anastasi and Sharuna Mahesh thank MoCA, The Porch @ Christie’s and CVS for providing the venue and snacks — as well as the many volunteers who made the night special.

Next up: a Halloween celebration (October 23, Remarkable Theater). For more information, click here.

,,, and hanging out.

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One of the most well-known houses in Westport (the Kowalsky home) sat for years on one of the last large open residential spaces in Westport.

Now the home — officially, 117 Morningside Drive South — has joined the list of notable town teardowns.

A recent photo …

… and an even more recent one. (Photo/Alan Phillips)

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Though all eyes were on the UK yesterday, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, viewers watching Yahoo! Finance got a double dose of Westport.

Dave Briggs — one of the platform’s anchors — interviewed internationally best-selling author Jane Green, a British native. Both now live here.

Click here for the full interview.

Screenshot of yesterday’s interview.

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Speaking of Her Majesty … on Monday (September 12), the Remarkable Theater honors her life and legacy with a special showing of “The Queen.”

Helen Mirren stars in the 2006 film, which examines Queen Elizabeth II n the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana.

The lot opens at 6:15 p.m. for tailgating. The movie starts at 7;15 p.m. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Who was Sigrid Schultz, for whom part of the newly designed Elm Street parking lot is named?

She was a pioneering female reporter, social justice activist — and longtime Westporer — who played an important role in exposing the growing Nazi threat during the lead-up to World War II, and beyond.

Last night, the Westport Museum for Culture & History hosted Professor Dr. David Milne of the University of East Anglia. He is writing her biography, and shared fascinating details of her life. The “Dragon Lady” exhibit is open to the public at the museum through the end of the year. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Dr. James Milne, at the Westport Museum for History & Culture. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Wondering about all those yellow ribbons downtown?

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The ribbons create awareness too: for Circle of Care, a Wilton-based organization that helps families deal with the diagnosis of a child with cancer.

Click here to learn more about Circle of Care. Then click below, for a local video:

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With autumn around the corner, it’s time for Aspetuck Land Trust’s fall native plant sale.

Hard-to-find plants, trees, shrubs and perennials can be ordered online, and picked up September 30 to October 2 at the Caryl & Edna Haskins Preserve off Green Acre Lane. Click here for details.

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Aarti Khosla believes that teachers are the backbone of our society. In these unprecedented times, she says, they need our love more than ever.

Aarti owns Le Rouge Chocolates, on Main Street. So she’s in a position to make it happen. Sweeeeet!

Her “Give a Little Love” chocolate heart campaign works like this: For $8 each, customers can sponsor a heart for one Westport teacher. Aarti hand-delivers the treats to each school.

This is the third year in a row for “Give a Little Love.” Teachers have been very touched by this small gesture, she says.

To donate one or more chocolate hearts online, click here.

“Give a Little Love” with chocolate hearts.

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MoCA’s next show — the premiere of the From The Pen To The Knife exhibition, featuring close to 300 watercolor paintings by Marian Christy, who creates watercolors using only palette knives and puddles of paint — is on view from October 15 to November 27.

An opening reception is set for October 15 (5 to 7 p.m.).

Christy was a Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe journalist, covering fashion and celebrities, for the first chapter of her life.

In the second chapter, she pivoted from “the pen to the knife.” Christy, now 90, had no formal training. She has worked for the last 15 years in her basement at an easel, held firm by used bricks to sustain her forceful palette knife strokes. For more information, click here.

One of Marian Christy’s nearly 300 works, exhibited soon at MoCA Westport.

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Cohl Katz’s clients have included Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barbara Bush, Bob Dylan, Cal Ripken, Cindy Crawford, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, Hilary Swank, Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe, Johnny Depp, Katie Couric, Keith Richards, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martha Stewart, Mary Tyler Moore, Mel Gibson, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali, Nicole Kidman, Phil Donohue, Ray Charles, Robert Redford, Robin Williams, Rod Stewart, Rosie O’Donnell, Sting and Tom Cruise,

The hair stylist and makeup artist recently moved back to Westport. She’s offering a back-to-school special for new clients (of all ages): a 50% first-appointment discount. Call 917-848-9596 — and mention “06880”!

Three of Cohl Katz’s clients.

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Several Westport chefs will prepare 4-course tableside meals at Greenwich Wine + Food. The fundraiser for the Jacques Pépin Foundation and Wholesome Wae is set for October 7 (at Abigail Kirsch The Loading Dock, Stamford).

The local contingent includes Jes Bengtson (Terrain Garden Café. Amis Trattoria); Debra Ponzek (Aux Delices), Matt Storch (Match Burger Lobster) and Bill Taibe (The Whelk, Kawa Ni, Don Memo).

The evening includes honors for the Serendipity’s 2022 Most Innovative Chefs. Among them: Will Friedman of Kawa Ni.

Click here for the full schedule, and ticket information.

Bill Taibe and Jes Bengtson will cook at Greenwich Wine + Food.

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The girls are gone from Compo. Now — as seen in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo — the gulls take over.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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And finally … as we remember the remarkable life of Queen Elizabeth II, the United States mourns with our British friends.

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Unsung Heroes #240

Last week’s Queer Cook-Off was a ton of fun. Local celebrities (1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker! State Senate candidate Ceci Maher! Former Staples High principal John Dodig!) competed to create — in just 30 minutes, from a “mystery box” of ingredients — an appetizer and entrée.

As a judge, I can honestly and happily say: “Yum!” And as a member of Westport Pride, I add: “Thanks to the 100-plus people who came to our fundraiser!”

But the real story is the chefs who headed each team. Bill Taibe (Don Memo, Kawa Ni, The Whelk), Jes Bengtson (Terrain Café. Amis Trattoria) and Arik Bensimon (Monogram Design Center) led their teams with creativity, flair, passion — and plenty of zest.

From left: Bill Taibe, Jes Bengtson, Arik Bensimon.

Here’s the thing: Bill, Jes and Arik get hit up for everything. Whenever there’s an event, function, gala, fundraiser, cause or whatever, they’re asked to help.

Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes it’s time. Often it’s food.

They always say yes. Then they do whatever they can to go above and beyond, for whoever they’re helping.

It’s the same with Tony Aitoro. The CEO of Aitoro Appliance in Norwalk always donates his large space for non-profit events. Tony’s on the scene too, smiling and helping and making sure everyone has a good time.

The Queer Cook-Off was especially right for Aitoro, because all 3 teams actually used the high-end appliances that fill the showroom.

Tony Aitoro (left) was also a judge at the Queer Cook-Off. He confers with Westport Pride founder Brian McGunagle.

So thank you Bill, Jes, Arik and Tony. You are this week’s Unsung Heroes. Now I just hope I haven’t given everyone else the idea of asking you for help.

BONUS FEATURE: Speaking of Aitoro: A couple of years ago, I needed a new refrigerator. I told the salesman there exactly what I wanted: The most basic model they had. I did not need a refrigerator that texted me when I was running low on milk, or one with separate compartments for arugula and endive. All I needed was something to keep my food from spoiling.

He took me right over to the least expensive refrigerator. “I could try to tell you why you need a more expensive model,” he said. “But I won’t. This one is fine.”

I bought it on the spot. And I became an Aitoro customer for life. 

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

Roundup: Kowalsky Property, WPD Bench, WWC Art Show …

A controversial plan to subdivide one of the last remaining parcels of private open space in Westport hit a roadblock Wednesday.

As first reported by Westport Journal, the Conservation Commission will report negatively on the proposal to put 6 houses on the 12-acre Kowalsky property on Clapboard Hill Road, between Morningside Drive South and Turkey Hill Road South.

Earlier, the Flood &Erosion Control Board expressed concerns about an underground drainage system, built earlier on the property without a permit.

The Planning & Zoning Commission will discuss the application on Monday (7 p.m., Zoom).

Site of the proposed subdivision, at 109 Morningside Drive South. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

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There’s a new bench downtown — courtesy of the Westport Police Department.

The handsome furniture — with a plaque identifying them as donors — now sits near the Spotted Horse restaurant.

No word on whether the cops will run you in for loitering, if you sit too long there.

From left: Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Deputy Chief Sam Arciola, with the Westport Police Department bench.

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I ate really well last night.

I was a judge at the first-ever Queer Cook-Off. The fundraiser for Westport Pride drew over 100 people to Aitoro Appliance in Norwalk. They watched 3 teams of local celebrities — headed by an area professional chef — whip up an appetizer and entrée, using items from a mystery box.

I was honored (and well-fed) to be a judge, along with Matt Storch (chef/owner of Match and Match Burger Lobster), Brian McGunagle (founder of Westport Pride), and store owner Tony Aitoro.

Bill Taibe (Don Memo, Kawa Ni and The Whelk) and Jes Bengtson (Amis, Terrain) and their teams created some outstanding food. But the Top Chef award went to Arik Bensimon (Monogram Design Center) and his crew.

Meanwhile, everyone enjoyed great food and drinks. Thanks to all who participated. I was “proud” to be a food taster there!

Westport 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker (far right) joined chef/restaurateur Bill Taibe (left) on a team for last night’s Queer Cook-Off.

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Local artists are on display tomorrow and Sunday (May 21-22, 2 to 6 p.m.) at the Westport Woman’s Club, 44 Imperial Avenue). Their annual art show is free, and open to all. All works are available for purchase.

Curated by Miggs Burroughs, the popular show features a variety of works and styles. Participating artists donate a portion of their sales to fund WWC community service grants, scholarships and programs.

Artists in the show include Ola Bossio, Trace Burroughs, Ann Chernow, Susan Fehlinger, Larry Gordon, Tom Kretsch, Arpad Krizsan, Paul Larson, Erzsebet (Bet) Laurinyecz, Jena Maric, Jon Puzzuoli, Peter Savarine, Gay Schempp, Oksana Tonasiv and Larry Untermeyer.

There’s also a drawing of the artists’ work, plus a special drawing of a piece by the late artist Howard Munce.

Musician Mark Naftalin — a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band — will play piano both days.

For more information on the Westport Woman’s Club and art show, click here.

This work by Gay Schempp will be on display at the Westport Woman’s Club art show.

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Longtime Westporter John Luscombe — the husband of former State Representative Jo Fuchs Luscombe — died on Sunday, at Danbury Hospital. He was 86.

The Oahu native was an electrical engineer. He was proud to work on many government contracts. One was part of the Apollo Project, which resulted in the first moon landings.

John was a devoted sailor and boater. For many years he was part of a local group, he “Ancient Mariners.”

He served as treasurer and commander of the Saugatuck River Power Squadron, having achieved the grade of senior navigator. He was also treasurer of the Minuteman Yacht Club.

An avid tennis player, for a number of years he ran the summer program for Y’s Men, playing both indoors and outdoors.

In addition to his wife, John is survived by his niece, Debbie Harding MacInnes,; nephew John Harding; grand-nephews and grand-nieces, and Bill Abrams, brother of his late first wife, Cornelia Abrams Luscombe.

Services be will announced at a later date. Click here to leave condolences for the family.

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“Westport … Naturally” features animals, flowers, plants, trees and more.

But there are other natural wonders here too. Today’s example: a double wave at Compo Beach.

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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And finally … today is the birthday of energetic English musician — and famed Players Tavern regular performer — Joe Cocker.

He was born today in 1944. He died in 2014 of lung cancer. He smoked 40 cigarettes a day until 1991, when he quit.

Roundup: Mattress Recycling, Document Shredding, Experience Camping …

Did you know that more than 75% of a mattress can be recycled — even that old one in your basement?

So how to get rid of it? Sustainable Westport and Earthplace host their semi-annual mattress recycling drop-off event this Saturday (May 14). Bring your dry, unsoiled mattress and/or box spring to Earthplace from 8:30 to 11: a.m.

It will be recycled into all sorts of stuff, from carpet pads and insulation to air filters and steel products.

Can’t get your mattress to Earthplace? Boy Scout Troop 36 will take it for you. Spots are limited; click here to sign up. A donation of $20 is suggested.

And … if you miss this event and can’t wait for the fall collection, Park City Green in Bridgeport accepts mattresses and box springs year round, Call 203-212-3860.

Boy Scout Troop 36 picks up recyclable mattresses.

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And … once you’ve recycled your mattress, bring your secure documenets to the William Raveis parking lot (47 Riverside Avenue, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

You can watch them being shredded. And you don’t even have to remove any staples.

The suggested donation is $10 for a box or shopping bag, $20 for a large garbage bag. 100% of all funds go to the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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The Day of Champions is set for this Sunday (May 15, 9 to 11:30 a.m., PJ Romano Field between Saugatuck and Kings Highway Elementary Schools).

The family-friendly fun and fierce competition may remind you of summer camp. That’s because it’s a fundraiser for Experience Camps — the place where children who have lost parents or siblings can smile again, with peers who understand and caring counselors.

Click here for more information — and to create, join or donate to a team.

Fun at Experience Camps’ 2019 Day of Champions.

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Tickets are going quickly for the Queer Cook-off. The Westport Pride fundraiser — pitting 3 teams, each with a noted chef, and celebrity teams — is set for Thursday, May 19 (6 p.m., Aitoro Appliance, Norwalk).

As they’re cooking in a “Chopped”-style competition, there’s plenty of food and drink for the “audience.” Food and beverage sponsors include Organic Krush, Copps Island Oysters, Dave & Charlie’s Hometown Deli, Garden Catering, Longford’s Ice Cream, The Kitchen and Tribus.

Ingredients for the chefs — Bill Taibe of Don Memo, Kawa Ni and The Whelk; Jes Bengtson of Terrain Café and Amis Tattoria, and Arik Bensimon of Monogram Design Center — come from Sport Hill Farm, Ayn’s Chili Oil and Pam’s Jams. Raffle prizes are donated by Nordstrom, Clay Story CT, Munson’s Chocolates, artist M.C. Hewlett, Monogram and various chefs.

As if that’s not enough to whet your appetite: I’m one of the judges.

Click here for tickets and more information.

 

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“Westport .. Naturally” has featured a few shots of the Parker Harding Plaza swan.

Most have been wide-angle shots. Here she is, primping for her close-up.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … Susan Jacks, the Poppy Family singer best (and probably only) known for her 1969 hit “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?,” died last month in British Columbia. She was 73, and on the waiting list for a second kidney transplant. Click here for a full obituary.

Roundup: Tom Brady, Don Memo, Magellanic Clouds …

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Eagle-eyed viewers may have recognized a Westport connection during a segment on yesterday’s ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown sow. The fictitious exhibition — “Tim Brady vs. The New York Jets,showcasing the quarterback’s Tom record — was filmed at MoCA Westport.

ESPN rented the space last week. They wanted a realistic museum setting for their tribute to Brady.

The “exhibition” features masterpieces like The Hit (2001), Brady The Starter (2001), The Monday Massacre (2010), Backing  Up The Talk (2011), and a “poetic piece” entitled The Departure (2020).

Click below to see. MoCA begins 40 seconds in.

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COVID has taken some steam out of Steam.

The popular newish coffee-and-more place at the head of Railroad Place says that “due to current conditions,” their evening café will be closed until further notice.

However, it’s available for afternoon and evening rentals, events and meet-ups.

Steam will still be open weekdays (6 a.m. to noon), and weekends (8 a.m. to noon).

Here’s a bit of sweet news: They’ve added Ferrara Bakery cannolis to their usual menu of bagels, donuts, breakfast sandwiches, and Balthazar Bakery croissants and pastries.

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Don Memo customers, staff — and many strangers — are pulling together for Kelli Pulkkinen.

The popular manager and server at the downtown restaurant has been diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia. She is just 31 years old.

Don Memo owner Bill Taibe quickly added a new cocktail. The “Universal Donor” helps raise money for Kelli. It costs $14, and includes Casco Viejo tequila, aperol, sparkling rosé, lemon and rose syrup. Rosé and tequila are 2 of her favorite drinks.

Taibe told the Westport News she is “a rock star” and “a fireball”: vibrant, funny and full of energy.

“She’s just a fireball,” he said. “Kali is the kind of person that just gives it her all.”

He added, “It’s hard enough battling cancer. If we can make sure that she doesn’t have to worry about her paychecks and bills and stuff for the time being that’s one less thing, and she can focus her energy.”

Click here for the full Westport News story. (Hat tip: Matthew Mandell)

The Don Memo drink

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There was no rain yesterday morning.

But a full moon and high tide were enough to flood Compo Beach Road.

Compo Beach Road, at Quentin Road. (Photo/Tammy Barry)

Let’s hope this was the worst weather event of 2022.

Hey … a guy can dream.

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You never know what you’ll find at Baron’s South.

The other day, Wendy Crowther was walking off the path, in the woods near the Imperial Avenue entrance. She saw this messy scene:

(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

At first she thought it was a homeless encampment. As she got closer though, she realized the cans were rusty — but unopened.

She now thinks that months — or years — ago, someone stored supplies deep in an existing hole in the tree trunk. As time passed, more of it decayed.

Eventually the cavity collapsed, spilling the cache onto the ground. But who squirreled them away — and why — remains a mystery.

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If you’ve always wanted to know about the “Physical Properties and History of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds”: Here’s your chance!

Clare Burhenne — a Westport Astronomical Society member, and Ph.D. student at Rutgers University — will lecture on that very topic. The free event is set for January 18; click here for the Zoom link; click here for the YouTube livestream.


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Our daily Roundup “Westport … Naturally” feature has run a few photos of vultures recently.

Janine Scotti recently moved the Saugatuck River to a condo near the back of Compo Shopping Center. She was amused to see gulls circling the dumpster, a ways from the water.

This week though, they were bumped by a new flock of birds. Yep: vultures.

(Photo/Janine Scotti)

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And finally … well, you knew this was coming, right?

Roundup: Candidates, Chores, Irene Backalenick …

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A sure sign of fall: Our yards and traffic islands sprout dozens of signs for political candidates.

If you’d like to base your chose on more than placards, pencil in next Tuesday (October 12, noon, Westport Library and streaming). The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Library team up for a debate between the candidates vying for 1st selectman and 2nd selectmen: Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore (Republicans), Jonathan Steinberg and Candi Savin (Democrats), and TJ Elgin and Louis D’Onofrio (independents). Chamber director Matthew Mandell will moderate.

Click here for in-person tickets, and more information. It’s available on Cablevision Channel 79, and will also be archived.

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Another sign of autumn: As leaves fall and Westporters prepare for winter, many senior citizens need help.

The Department of Human Services hopes that seniors (in high school) — and juniors, sophomores and freshmen, plus middle schoolers — can help.

The DHS is compiling a list of students willing to help with outdoor chores. The suggested rate is $12 an hour.

Students interested in helping seniors (and earning money) should call 203-341-1050, or email humansrv@westportct.gov. Seniors needing assistance should also call 203-341-1050.

Need help bagging leaves? Human Services have kids for hire.

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Irene Backalenick turned 100 in August.

The former New York Times theater critic celebrated by publishing 143 of her reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.

The collection spans the last 11 years of her career (2004 to 2015). Her final Broadway review was “Hamilton.”

Click here to order “In the Theater World.”

Irene Backalenick

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Caryl Beatus is one of “06880”‘s most avid readers — and frequent, insightful contributors.

She’s also a longtime golfer. Yesterday the Longshore Women’s Golf Association honored the founding (and 61-year) member, at the annual event named for her.

Caryl hit the ceremonial first shot. Fore!

Caryl Beatus was — as the golf cart says — Longshore’s “Queen for a Day.” (Photo/Mark Farrell)

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Bill Taibe is CRAzy.

Or at least, the owner of The Whelk, Don Memo and Kawa Ni is the 2021 Restaurateur of the Year, according to the Connecticut Restaurant Association. The organization — “CRA” — will present it’s “CRAzy Award” on December 6.

Taibe was chosen by a panel of more than 2 dozen food writers, critics, social media influencers and bloggers.

Meanwhile, the public can vote for other honors. Among the nominees: Taibe’s own Don Memo (Newcomer of the Year), and OKO (Restaurant of the Year, Fairfield and Litchfield Counties). Click here to see all nominations, and cast a ballot.

Bill Taibe

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For the second time this year, a Staples High School swim and dive team record fell.

The meet with Westhill came down to the final event. The 400 meter freestyle relay would determine the outcome. The Wreckers won in 4:10.46, earning the very tight 93-92 win.

The record-setting swim came from freshman Annam Olasewere. Her 26.15 time in the 50 meter free beat her previous record of 26.48, set just last week. She also won the 100 meter free.

The Wreckers are now 3-2. They’re in action next on Friday, vs. Greenwich (4 p.m., Staples).

Annam Olasewere (far left) earlier this month, with her 400 meter freestyle relay team (from left): Ayaan Olasewere , Ella Alpert, Jessica Qi,

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Susan Fehlinger is the Westport Book Shop’s guest artist this month. She’s an oil painter. The exhibit includes 12 coastal paintings. It’s open during business hours, at the popular used bookstore on Jesup Green.

Susan Fehlinger, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Halloween comes a day early to the Westport Country Playhouse.

The historic theater presents “Spectres and Spirits” — an original, 30-minute radio play – on October 30 (12 p.m., WSHU-FM).

It’s the work of frequent Playhouse collaborator (and macabre-minded) Richard R. Henry. John Gromada contributes clever sound design. To learn more and listen, click here.

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The other day, “Westport … Naturally” featured a monarch butterfly being eaten by a praying mantis.

Here’s one that lived:

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

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And finally … Long before Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff, Millie Small put Jamaica on the musical map. She was born today in 1947. She died May 5, 2020, at 72.

“06880” Podcast: Bill Taibe

Hungry to learn about Westport’s dining scene?

The other day, Bill Taibe sat down for our “06880” podcast, at the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

The owner of The Whelk, Kawa Ni and Don Memo talked about his passion for food; how he opens a new restaurant; staffing and supply issues, and Westport’s dining scene.

So where does one of the town’s premier restaurateurs go when he eats out? Click here, for the full interview.

Bill Taibe

 

Young Shoots: Berries, Fruits, Farmers’ Roots

Everything about the Westport Farmers’ Market annual photo contest is special.

The name — “Young Shoots” — is quite clever.

The idea — inviting children and teenagers to honor food and farmers creatively, through fresh eyes — is important.

The setting for the awards ceremony — Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, the Market’s winter home — is both apt and beautiful.

This year’s recent evening showed off both the bounty of the Farmers’ Market, and the talent of our young local photographers.

First place winners received a cash prize, special swag and the opportunity to lead a food photo shoot with chef Bill Taibe. Second place winners earned $50. Judging was done by local artists, and the public.

First place in the 8-to-10-year-old category went to Kayla Stanley, for “Berries & Beyond.” Second place went to Juliette Newshel, for “Complementary.”

“Berries & Beyond” (Kayla Stanley)

“Complementary” (Juliette Newshel)

The 11-to-14 winner was Camille Mergenthaler (“Uniqueness of a Vegetable”). Sara Stanley placed second (“A Farmer’s Roots”).

“Uniqueness of a Vegetable” (Camille Mergenthaler)

“A Farmer’s Roots” (Sara Stanley)

There were plenty of entries in the 2 youngest categories. However, only one photographer entered the 15-to-18-year-old group. Dylan Kirsch was awarded the prize for “Scenes Around the Market.”

“Scenes Around the Market” (Dylan Kirsch)

Want to see more? Click here for all the entries.

(Young Shoots is a partnership between the Westport Farmers’ Market, the Artists Collective of Westport and the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.)

Roundup: Staples Tennis, Wakeman Town Farm, Stop & Shop …

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Congratulations to the Staples High School boys and girls tennis teams! Both are state champions!

The boys of coach Kris Hrisovulos defeated Westhill 7-0 yesterday, clinching their 5th straight — yes, 5th (!) — state “LL” (extra large schools) championship. They finished the season 22-1, shutting out all 4 state tournament opponents. Their only loss was to Darien, in the FCIAC final.

Singles winners yesterday were Tighe Brunetti, Robbie Daus, Brandon Felcher and Lucas Haymes. Doubles victors were Bradley Sheppard/Luke Brodsky, Alex Miller/Jack Motyl, and Matthew Chiang/Josh Suggs.

The 2021 state champion boys tennis team.

The girls of coach Paco Fabian beat Amity 4-3, for their 3rd straight title. Jenna Kornbluth’s 6-4, 6-1 victory at #4 singles clinched the match, after everyone else had finished.

Other victors for Staples: Karenna Birns (singles) and Elle Tesoriero/Audrey Kercher, and Carine Geijerstam/Maya Farber (doubles).

The 2021 state champion girls tennis team (Photo courtesy of The Ruden Report)=======================================================

Work continued on Railroad Place this morning.

During repaving, all the restaurant structures were removed. That’s done, and now all 3 restaurants — Harvest, Tarantino’s and Romanacci will be open this weekend.

In related news, Romanacci has taken over the former Commuter Coffee location It’s now a full restaurant, with bar.

Outdoors or in, Railroad Place is the place to be. And with reduced train travel, there’s plenty of parking nearby!

(Photo/Matthew Mandell)

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Your kid may not be a career farmer. But Wakeman Town Farm’s 2-week summer service program for 6th through 9th graders is a great outdoor, hands-on opportunity to learn about the land. And become more self-reliant and independent in the process.

Participants plant, water and harvest vegetables to be donated to local food pantries. Representatives from those agencies visit WTF, and discuss food insecurity in the area.

Teens and chefs also cook a nutritious meal for the Gillespie Center, using  the Farm’s organic produce. They also run their own farm stand.

Students get to know the rabbits, ducks, chicken, sheep, goats and alpacas. They learn about animal care, feeding and halter training.

The program also explores environmental topics like composting, pollinator gardens and the Zero Waste initiative.

There are 4 sessions, each 2 weeks long. For more information, click here. To register, click here.

Who can resist a summer program like this?

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Mark Mathias spotted this at Stop & Shop yesterday:

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

Actually, the photo shows something that is not there.

Look closely. The supermarket has removed all those one-way directional arrows, which no one has followed for at least the past 10 months (if they ever did).

Stop & Shop is not the only place getting back to the pre-pandemic normal. Trader Joe’s shoppers no longer have to queue up, and be directed to a cashier; we’re now free to find our own, just as we did before March 2020.

And the Westport Weston Family YMCA has removed the absurd red tape on the stairs, demarcating the up and down sides. The staircase is way too narrow to have any effect.

What have you seen? Click “Comments” below.

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Tomorrow’s “Songs for a Summer Evening: Music that Made Movies Magical” YouTube video benefits the Norwalk Sister City Project, a non-profit doing incredible community development work in a poor Nicaragua barrio.

But there’s a heavy Westport presence n the video. Broadway icon Kelli O’Hara, Staples Players stars Jamie Mann and Bridget Looby, and Emily Rabon Hall and her dad Bill Hall all join together to share the magic of music from the movies. Tom Kretsch is president of NSCP, and has worked with Bill Hall to create the video.

Click here for the link to the 7:30 video (and to donate), or click the link below:

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The Westport Library’s Summer Reading Challenge is underway.

The 5th annual program — designed for adults — includes 25 categories of books. After reading one, submit it on a special web page. Then track your progress on the leaderboard.

Chalk up those categories. NOTE: Each book can be used for only one category. Click here for details.

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Rae Suba’s family owns the Post Road storefront near Tiffany. She runs the Child’s Play occupational therapy center on the 2nd floor. Currently, the ground floor is vacant.

But now — just in time for tomorrow’s Pride rally, and at one of the most visible spots in town — she’s decorated it with rainbows.

She says, “It is my humble honor as a forever LGBTQIA+ ally to create this window display, in an effort to rise to the Westport Pride words: ‘Elevate. Educate. Empower.’

“These children, teens and adults deserve visibility, respect, hope, inspiration and kindness. Happy Pride Month Everyone! 🌈🌈LOVE WINS🌈🌈Compassion and empathy will save humanity. Namaste. 🙏🏼

“My clinic will always be a safe space for children, teens and young adults who are LGBTQIA+. Thank you to my family for letting me use the building display window.”

46 Main Street

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Around the corner on Jesup Green from Tiffany and Rae Suba’s rainbow storefront, Westport Book Shop has become one of Westport’s hottest destinations — and not just for used books.

Every month, a different artist is featured at the Drew Friedman Community Arts wall in the back. For June, the artist is Holly Hawthorn.

Her porcelain sculptures reflect her love of the ocean and beaches, and incorporate seashells gathered over many years of walks on beaches from Maine to Greece.

Holly is a sculptor, printmaker ceramic artist and former teacher. She studied art in the US, Italy and Greece.

The exhibit is open during the Book Shop’s business hours:  Tuesdays through Fridays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays noon to 5 p.m.

Holly Hawthorn, with her Westport Book Shop art.

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Speaking of art: George Billis Gallery hosts an opening reception on Friday, June 18 (146 Main Street, 4 to 7 p.m.).

New artists include Westport-based Jarvis Wilcox. The gallery says: “His lush still life paintings are poetic with much emotional connections stimulating the viewer. Wilcox brings delight and insight as he discovers seeing and then making his works of art.”

Also in the exhibit: watercolorists Derek Buckner Paul Pitsker, still life artist Julian Cardinal and ceramicist Alice Federico.

“Cherries with Silver Cup” (Jarvis WIlcox)

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Bill Taibe is branching out.

The owner of 3 very popular Westport restaurants — Don Memo, Kawa Ni and The Whelk — is opening a cafe in the new Norwalk Art Space (455 West Avenue). The breakfast and lunch menu includes flour water salt and Idylwild breads, Riverbank Farm kimchee, and barbecue smoked turkey.

Bill Taibe and staff at the Norwalk Art Space.

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Suzuki Music Schools is back to in-person learning. To celebrate, they’re hosting a free concert in the Colonial Green parking lot (246 Post Road East).

The program next Tuesday (June 8) includes great music — and food vendors.

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And finally … the Suzuki concert (above) sounds great. Hopefully, the young musicians will sound almost as good as this.

Roundup: Beach, Pool, Golf And Tennis News; #ILoveWestport; Lucky Grad; Fireworks; More


Here’s the latest update from Westport Parks & Rec:

Starting Wednesday, July 1, lifeguards will staff Compo and Burying Hill beaches from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All regular beach rules will be enforced, in addition to all COVID-19 rules. Boogie boards and skim boards are permitted.

The Longshore pools will remain closed, due to state restrictions and limited staffing resources.

Parks and Rec director Jennifer Fava says her department “will continue to monitor the guidance from the state, Should restrictions ease, and we can staff appropriately, we will reevaluate the possibility of opening the pool complex.”

Starting tomorrow (Saturday, June 27), 2 players may share a golf cart. Both must wear face coverings in the cart, and the same person must drive the cart the entire time. Exception: members of the same household are not required to wear face covering in a cart, and valid drivers may alternate.

Also starting tomorrow, all tennis courts at Longshore, Staples High School, Town Farm and Doubleday (behind Saugatuck School) are open for both singles and doubles play. All platform tennis and pickleball courts are open for singles and doubles too.


During the lockdown, town officials emphasized: “We’re all in this together.”

That’s the message during reopening too. To drive it home, they asked a variety of people to make personal promises for keeping everyone healthy.

Anthony John Rinaldi taped those promises. He’s making them into a series of videos, all tagged #ILoveWestport.

In the first one, restaurant owner Bill Taibe promises to keep cooking. Farmers’ Market director Lori McDougall promises to support local vendors. Police Chief Foti Koskinas promises to keep Westporters safe.

There are more too, in this quick video — including a special “06880” appearance. Click below to see.


Like many Westporters, Serkan Elden kept his “Proud Family of 2020 Staples High School Graduate” sign up, even after the ceremony 2 weeks ago. He is justifiably proud of his daughter Deniz, a great member of the senior class that went through so much this year.

Someone else is proud too.

The other day Deniz found an envelope in the Eldens’ mailbox. It was addressed simply: “The Graduate.”

Inside she found a note: “Congratulations 2020! Hope this is a Winner! Good Luck. From, Anonymous Lyons Plain Rd. Neighbor.”

Attached was a Double Match lottery scratch card.

She did not win. 🙁 But odds are good that this is a gift Deniz will remember long after the coronavirus is history.


If you missed last weekend’s “Stand Up (At Home) for Homes with Hope” comedy show — no problem.

An encore presentation is set for Wednesday (July 1, 8 p.m.). Four very funny comedians joined Staples grad/noted songwriter Justin Paul for a wonderful hour of entertainment.

Click here to register. And if you saw the show the first time around, you’ll receive an automatic link to watch again.


 

There are no 4th of July fireworks at Compo Beach this year.

And, the Westport Fire Department warns, there should be none anywhere in town.

The note that all fireworks are illegal in Connecticut, expect sparklers and fountains.

Also illegal: items like party poppers, snakes, smoke devices, sky lanterns and anything that emits a flame. Possessing or exploding illegal devices could result in a fine or jail.

Note too: Extremely dry conditions make it easy for fireworks, sparklers and fountains to cause brush fires.


And finally … as other states find themselves in the same situation Connecticut was in 2 months ago, we here are thinking of our friends around the nation.