By Kathryn G. Menu
As the temperatures soar, yachts dock and families dust off their children’s pails and shovels to ready for another summer season at the beach, there are some 60 families in Sag Harbor with far more pressing needs than a new beach umbrella – namely, trying to figure out how to keep food on their tables.
This is where the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry steps in.
For three years, the food pantry has held “Neighbors Helping Neighbors Kitchen Tour” to help maintain funding and provide Sag Harbor area residents with fresh vegetables, fruits, proteins and baked goods throughout the year.
“This time of year, people are not necessarily in the mindset for giving,” said food pantry special events coordinator Regina Humanitzi this week, noting the tour enables the pantry to pay its estimated $700 to $800 weekly food bill until its annual fund drive at the start of the holiday season.
“Many are families with young children and the elderly,” said Humanitzi of the residents the pantry serves. “Those are our clients.”
The food pantry has operated out of the Sag Harbor Presbyterian (Old Whalers’) Church since 1987, and is staffed by 40 volunteers who hand out bushels of food to needy families each Tuesday. According to Humanitzi, the pantry currently serves some 800 local people and is committed to its mission of “Fresh is Better,” which ensures families receive fresh produce, fruit, bread, meat and dairy, rather than the standard food pantry offerings of canned goods.
In addition to a weekly shop, the pantry accepts food donations and is sponsored by a number of local businesses, including Bagel Buoy Market, Cappelletti Restaurant, Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Ship, Cromer’s, Provisions, the Golden Pear and others. However, said Humanitzi, events like the Kitchen Tour are crucial to keeping the pantry stocked. Some 200 spectators are expected to attend this year’s event.
For Judy and Rod Gilbert, whose Cliff Drive, Bay Point home is one of six kitchens featured on the tour, supporting a food pantry is not something unfamiliar. The couple is actively involved with the Saint Francis Food Pantry in Manhattan, and Rod, a retired Canadian professional hockey player, former New York Ranger and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, lends his celebrity to events like Doodle for Hunger, an auction of original works of art by celebrities to benefit the pantry.
Judy, who personally designed the Bay Point home with a modern, eclectic, Asian flair, and a focus on textures – a business she started after retiring from a lauded career in advertising – immediately agreed to be a part of the tour after Humanitzi reached out following a visit to the residence during an open house.
The Gilbert’s home, and specifically their kitchen, overlooks scenic Noyac Bay, with a limestone patio and pool the only thing separating the main living spaces in the home from the spectacular view. The kitchen is modern in design with contemporary, European inspired pull-up cabinetry and a rectangular window running the length of the cooking area, which sheds light and color on the black and limestone colored décor.
Humanitzi said the Gilbert’s home adds a modern kitchen with a water view to the purposefully diverse slate of homes on the tour, which will also feature a green home on Gardiner’s Path in North Haven that has stainless steel appliances and hardware, Ceasar Stone countertops, energy efficient lighting and oak stained floors. A second North Haven home will offer patrons a glimpse at a party planner’s dream kitchen, with marble countertops, a pot filler faucet set over a professional Viking Stove, and pendant lamps illuminating a spacious island overlooking the family room and formal dining room. On High View Drive, kitchen tour patrons will be jetted off to Tuscany, with poured concrete countertops highlighting the Tuscan-inspired kitchen and home, complete with custom cabinetry matching the rest of the wood in the house – reclaimed from oak trees cleared from the property during the home’s construction.
Of course, it would not be a kitchen tour in Sag Harbor without the inclusion of two historic homes. On Suffolk Street, an all white galley kitchen adds contemporary flair to the residence from 1830, which is now restored. The kitchen overlooks an herb garden, and dining area adorned with a Moroccan chandelier. On Henry Street, a home from the 1840s, which was once the First Presbyterian Parsonage, is also on the tour.
And just as history is important to Sag Harbor, so is food to the governing body of the food pantry, which has worked with local businesses to ensure patrons of the kitchen tour are treated to a full-fledged meal. Tournedos of filet on sourdough baguette finger sandwiches from Cromer’s Country Market, crab cakes supplied by Dock Side Restaurant, goat cheese and tomato tartlets from Cynthia Battaglia Caterer, an artisan cheese platter from Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop, assorted quesadillas from Cilantro’s and award winning clam chowder from the Dock House Restaurant will be paired with wines from Channing Daughters, Wolffer Estate Vineyards, Long Wharf Wines and Spirits, and sparkling water and teas supplied by Sag Harbor Beverage.
But it is the Desert House, as Humanitzi calls it – at the Gilbert residence – which she is most excited for.
“Each of the volunteers for the food pantry has a favorite brownie recipe, so we have asked them to contribute,” she said this week. “We will have walnut brownies, coconut brownies, double chocolate brownies, peanut butter brownies and blondies. Some volunteers are making their favorite cookies, so it’s a real treat.”
The Sag Harbor Kitchen Tour will be held Saturday, June 5 from noon to 4 p.m. at a donation cost of $50. For more information and to order tickets, call 725-7112 or 725-5066.