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A Taste of Taste’s

Nearly every time I get back from BC, I am stopped in my tracks: the familiar smell of chocolate chip cookies encapsulating my senses. It certifies that I am home again. My hometown is the home of the factory for Tate’s Cookies (the quintessential green bag housing thin, crispy treats), and I have grown up surrounded by the smell. Whether leaving for school in the morning or returning home after a long ferry commute, Tate’s Cookies has always been in the background. 

            Tate’s Cookies started out as a bakery both by and for locals of Long Island’s East End. The founder, Kathleen King, started off baking the signature cookies at home at 11 years old. She had an immense passion for baking that she hoped to share with her community. King started Kathleen’s Bake Shop a few decades ago, but was unfortunately cast with a poor business deal that led to its eventual demise. Nevertheless, she rallied the community around her and found strength in their support. She went on to found Tate’s in her father’s name. She put her soul into her bakery, maintaining a storefront in Southampton to ensure community connection while growing her retail presence nationwide. Despite negotiating with private equity firms and high-caliber consumer packaged goods companies, King sustained her values and commitment to Tate’s until she knew her employees could adequately further her mission themselves. King has redirected her earnings from the Tate’s sale into charitable funds, such as Peconic Land Trust. This choice has secured her commitment to sustainable choices, specifically to the wellbeing of the local land. She recognizes the significance Long Island has had on her bakery’s prosperity and hopes to give back to her home, which has given her so much. 

She was able to reap this success for Tate’s by launching a product not seen among any other brand: a cookie that is crunchy, buttery, and thin. Tate’s cookies are the “weakness” of so many, King included, and they possess an addicting quality. There is an instantaneous crunch and a hidden addition of salt, allowing for the perfect balance of sweet and savory. As a result, King was able to grow her business from the single Southampton bakery to an internationally recognized company. She has provided a crucial business opportunity for eastern Long Island, which is more known for its agriculture and environment than commercial spaces. Moreover, locals have continued to rally around Tate’s. We feel pride when we spot the signature packaging in a new state, as I know I experienced when first seeing Tate’s in CoRo Café. I was transported home, which helped me recognize how far I have come. With Long Island as my foundation, I utilized this support system to continue finding success at BC, just as King did in growing Tate’s. 

Through its unique niche among cookie competitors, Tate’s has solidified its claim in the industry and brought significant attention to its small hometown. Its legacy is about so much more than a cookie. Tate’s is about community, perseverance, and support. I am reminded of this heartening notion each time I spot Tate’s in a new state or notice the distinct aroma when I am home.

Cover photo courtesy of Bon Appétit

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Essays

Home Grown, Community Fed

Heading east on Long Island renders three sights consistent: beautiful beach views, a plethora of bagel stores, and quaint farm stands. Each supplies a myriad of summer jobs to local kids, whether excitedly applying for their first position after graduating eighth grade or coming home from college to scrounge up future weekend funds. This summer, I continue to perpetuate the norm, transitioning from my beach club work to a spot at a farm stand. 

Sitting along Montauk Highway, a two-lane road that surely does not live up to its title, is what resembles a disheveled shack. Nevertheless, this shack serves thousands of customers, supplying literal tons of local produce to the bustling summer crowds. Farmers Market Farm Stand, my place of employment, is the pinnacle of a small business committed to serving the local community. The farm stand acknowledges its strategic positioning by employing year-round residents and squaring up to the inflated summer economy.  I grew up coming to these farm stands and learned the names of seemingly exotic fruits and vegetables along the way: heirloom tomatoes, wax beans, donut peaches, and countless more farmstand staples. I was astounded by the rainbow of produce and the sheer number of dishes that could be prepared with solely local ingredients. Long Island becomes a dreary winter destination, but bolsters itself through a summer bounty. 

Before beginning my current farmstand job, I viewed the stands as charming grocery store alternatives. However, I have begun to recognize the integral role of farm stands in supporting countless other small businesses. We source upwards of 80% of our produce in peak growing seasons from small family farmers within a ten mile radius and gladly accept backyard-grown flowers to sell by the bunch or home-kitchen baked sweets for distribution. As I unload our truck bed each day, I scan through each farm name and town, beginning to associate each area with a different piece of produce. I take note of which produce sells best, with local items typically reaping the highest sales, alongside the greatest community gains. 

The farm stand has the capacity to connect local people with local products that they love, with potential to form a connection with the individual producing them. As opposed to purchasing bagged produce from the grocery store, the act of choosing goods from the farm stand is a representation of each customer’s support of the respective farmer. They are utilizing their dollars to reinforce home-grown products. Through this, every customer develops a relationship with both the employees and our vendors— especially our famed Aki and her soups. Her spicy heirloom tomato is always sure to amass a crowd, with its sweet taste that still bolsters a kick. Patrons know Aki loves their home just as much as they do. 

For Long Island, farm stands are the cornerstone of sustainability and community. Our low-waste efforts and food donation partnerships with wildlife refuges encourage my, and so many others’, dedication to environmental consciousness. We boost our community by supporting our own producers and vendors, while ensuring that our products limit transportation and treatment to produce. Food is a love language, and knowing ours is grown with such love is unequivocally inspiring and heartening.

Cover photo courtesy of northforker

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Essays

Savoring St. Thomas

I constantly long for the coveted vacation trope: spending the day at the beach, returning to a clean hotel room to relax, and getting ready for the proceeding dinner with a sun kissed face. For the past two years, the outbreak of COVID shut down my hopes of vacation, alongside any gastronomic experimentation that would come with such a trip. However, I was able to travel to St. Thomas this past spring break and take advantage of the vibrant food culture the island bolsters. Throughout the course of my week on St. Thomas, I sampled a plethora of restaurants and street vendors that consistently left me in awe. Ranging from hidden beachside establishments accessible only by boat, to our final night’s “fancy dinner,” St. Thomas was a gift to my palette. Not only were the dishes delicious, but the memories associated were even greater. 

On our final night, I made the ferry trek to St. John– crossing island-hopping off my bucket list. We had spent a long day at the beach, stomachs rumbling in preparation for the supposedly delectable dinner to come. Phone service on the trip was spotty, but I managed to secure enough to send my parents a short text message: “Going to dinner on St. John at the Terrace, will DEFINITELY send a picture of my plate.” Food is an integral part of my family dynamic and my family group chat is filled with plate pictures. Whether from Mac or a dinner in the North End, my family is readily knowledgeable on my menu choices each day, though being far apart. Upon sending this text, my parents responded much more enthusiastically than I expected. They relayed to me that this was the restaurant in which they dined the night they were engaged, constituting the Terrace as the birthplace of my family itself. Of all the restaurants on the island, we had incidentally chosen one of such familial significance. A wide smile spread across my cheeks, elated to share this experience with my parents. 

Approaching the Terrace, I knew precisely which restaurant it was, before distinguishing its name. The dimly lit space, lacking a distinct change from the inside to outside, with countless plants elegantly lining its frame, was one that immediately drew in passersby. The Terrace has undoubtedly undergone renovations since my parents’ engagement, due to the relentless hurricanes that strike the island, but the atmosphere of the restaurant was one of comfort and grace that I am confident has withstood the physical modifications. Moving through the restaurant, I imagined the space as one that my parents had experienced in the past. With this being my first vacation without them, I found myself frequently doing this along each stop, but especially here at the Terrace. Though they were over one thousand miles away, I was able to feel their presence. The food at the Terrace was spectacular, reflecting the vibrance of the Virgin Islands and the local fare which constitutes much of their economy. The menu included an array of its cultural influences, allowing guests to immerse themselves in St. John’s rich diversity and history. Curious as to what my parents had ordered, I asked them, to which they replied that they had no idea: they were too overcome by emotion and care to consider the food before them. 

Though food constitutes so many of my memories, I feel that it is truly the people we spend these moments with that comprise the utmost significance. Food provides the outline for connections, opening opportunities for us to find them among one another. To visit the Terrace and experience its sentimentality is an experience I am so grateful for and one that has assuredly brought me closer to my parents’ past. 

Cover Photo Courtesy of Jane Paulson