Tag Archives: Matt Debenham

Everyone’s Welcome At This Turkey Table

Caissie St. Onge will never forget the day her younger son Lincoln was born. It was the same day the family moved to Westport. While she was in the hospital, friends hauled furniture into her recently purchased home.

Back in Brooklyn, Caissie — a TV industry veteran, who is now co-executive producer of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” — usually worked right up to Thanksgiving.

Because it was hard for many young co-workers to get home for the holiday, Caissie and her husband, Matt Debenham, hosted a few for the turkey meal.

Several years ago, they revived that tradition here.

“We live in one of the smallest houses in Westport,” Caissie says. “But we can fit 20 people in our living room.”

Friends loan tables and chairs. This year, for the first time, Caissie and Matt got a tent for the deck.

The living room, ready for guests.

Some guests take the train from New York. Caissie’s son Eli shuttles them back and forth from the station.

Eli is now a freshman at Southern Connecticut State University; Lincoln is sophomore at Staples High. As they grow older, they like the event more. Both are good at talking with adults — though the guests include random children too.

Each year, the number grows. Caissie does not know some of them. “They’re friends of friends of friends,” she says. “Everyone is welcome.”

One newcomer tomorrow will be a woman spending her first Thanksgiving away from her now-grown children.

Thanksgiving can be pressure-filled, Caissie notes. “It can be lonely. Even if you stay home and cook with your family, it can be stressful. So I figured, since I’m cooking, I might as well cook for everybody.”

Clockwise from top left: Eli, Lincoln and Matt Debenham, Caissie St. Onge.

Caissie’s family provides turkey and ham. Some guests bring wine or dessert. It’s all served buffet-style.

In the past, people started coming at 2 p.m. This year they’ve pushed it back to 3.

“We’ve had snafus, like blown fuses and the timing for cooking being wrong,” Caissie says cheerfully.

Many guests stay until 9 or 10.

“It goes by in a flash,” Caissie says. “I wish it could last longer. We really enjoy welcoming people into our home.”

Matt Debenham’s Clean Treats

Eli Debenham is a Staples High School sophomore. His dad, Matt — a fiction writer and teacher — recently branched out into the brownie-baking-and-selling business.

Not just any brownies.

Paleo brownies.

Matt Debenham

Matt Debenham

He got into it via his wife’s thyroid specialist. It took 5 months to come up with a recipe that didn’t taste like a caveman who’s been dead for 35,000 years.

Baking — and selling — brownies (paleo or obesity-o) online is not easy. Matt learned about commercial kitchens (he uses one in Saugatuck, at night). He learned about bar codes, labels, shipping, and thousands of other quasi-related-to-baking things.

But Clean Treats is up and running. So is the Clean Plate Club, a food blog for paleo eaters. (Gluten-free ones too.) It features recipes, links to kitchen equipment, and posts about visits to free-range, chemical-free farms.

Matt’s is an interesting story, about something that (of course) morphed from a sideline hobby into a full-fledged, taking-over-his-life business.

Yet many other Westporters have similar tales. Why is this one “06880-worthy”?

A Clean Treat brownie.

A Clean Treat brownie.

Well, it involves food, which everyone loves. Desserts, especially.

Matt’s doing all the right things, marketing-wise.

And Eli asked me to write about it. It’s his Christmas gift, from a son to his dad.

Merry Christmas, Matt! I’m sure Santa will love those Clean Treat brownies you leave out for him on Christmas Eve.