East Hampton Hosts Panel Discussion on Nutrition

Photo credit: Lisa Tamburini

Left to right: Alyson Follenius, Michele Sacconaghi, Thuyen Nguyen, Charlotte LaGuardia, Dr. Gerry Curatola, Nicole Teitler

The conversation surrounding health and nutrition has been at the forefront of individual minds since the onset of the pandemic. Now, as mask regulations ease up and America reopens its doors, the question remains: how do we not only become healthy, but stay healthy? 

On Thursday, May 20, I returned to the Hamptons to moderate a panel discussion surrounding nutrition at The Hedges Inn. It was part of Wellness East Hampton, a month-long series in East Hampton hosted by Discover the Hamptons, James Lane Post, McKenna Interactive Media, Discover Long Island, and the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce. In conversation were Thuyen Nguyen of Thuyen Skincare, Dr. Gerry Curatola of Rejuvenation Health, Charlotte LaGuardia of ThriveEast Nutrition, Hamptons Wellness Coach Alyson Follenius, and Wellness Foundation President Michele Sacconaghi. Each individual added their own take and expertise to what is an ever evolving field of study.

Nutrition is typically defined as a branch of science surrounding food and nourishment for the human body. In taking a step beyond the traditional definition, the talk touched upon the ways human health is linked to our every day world— from stress, to family ties, to the very basics of what we eat.

Here are my 5 personal takeaways from the nutrition panel discussion:

  1. The “deposit” and “withdrawal” method. Each action, especially what we consume, is either adding to our nutritional value or taking away from it.
  2. No two individuals are alike. As such, we should manage our expectations and rid the word “diet” from our vocabulary. There is no one size fits all to health.
  3. It’s possible to reverse hereditary chronic illness through healthy eating habits and awareness. We have the power to change the future of our health.
  4. Move away from continental breakfasts and include more fruits and vegetables for added variety. Pack in nutrition at the start and all throughout the day.
  5. What you eat, how you sleep, how you move all influence stress. It’s a triangle of wellness where one directly impacts the other.

Watch the full video here.

Dr. Gerry

It’s not often that biologic wellness and overall medical practices are connected to dentistry. For most of us, going to the dentist is a routine chore to simply check up on our oral health. Dr. Gerry Curatola, a renowned biologic restorative dentist based in East Hampton, is on a mission to change that.

“There are things we can do to deal in a way that identifies the root causes and helps you avoid the need for dependency on so many medications, that I believe are unnecessary for many people,” he said.

His new office, Rejuvenation Health, is located in East Hampton.

“Rejuvenation Health could be a mecca for all of the healthcare practitioners in our village to interact and treat the patient in a more holistic fashion. A healthy mouth, and a healthy body, is an important part of healthy skin and healthy beauty.”

I had previously spoken with Dr. Curatola in 2012 at a Ross School benefit at which he was an honoree. Years have passed and yet he’s still the welcoming smile, open arms, all-around community guy he has always been. If he were my dentist growing up, I might have actually flossed like I was supposed to. He’s relatable, a born and bred Long Island guy who went to Chaminade High School in Mineola before attending Colgate University and going onto NYU College of Dentistry, where he graduated in 1983. He and his wife, Georgia, raised their family on the East End.

“I didn’t want to be a drill ‘em, fill ‘em, bill ‘em,” he said. So he aimed to be a physician of the mouth and understand the connection of oral health to the rest of the body. “My design is for a natural reunification of a coordinated, personalized system of healthcare.”

Rejuvenation Health will offer overall biological medicine, also known as functional medicine, which connects medicine and dentistry, as most toxicity comes from the mouth. In addition to, thus far, being the only place that offers EMsculpt on the East End, the practice will uniquely offer Reviv Genetics testing, allowing patients to obtain a personalized book on their genetics and understand the health risks or benefits based on them.

Dr. Gerry aims to deviate from a traditional medicine approach that is, he says, “heavily supported by big pharmaceuticals” and look at the mental and emotional stressors. “There have been studies from Harvard Medical School, showing that just a daily meditation can lower your blood pressure,” he said, for example.


This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper here.


Park Place Wines: A Business Throughout The Generations

This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

Donald McDonald purchased an empty lot in East Hampton in 1969 on Newtown Lane, long before the days of luxury retail stores. A high school teacher at the time, McDonald built a discount liquor store, a party store, and the offices above it, all after the dismissal bell rang, and throughout the summer months, to open up his family business that very same year. Today, that discount liquor store has become better recognized as Park Place Wines & Liquors.

“For us growing up, the family business was there and the whole community came in. Especially around Christmas time. Everybody knew everybody else,” said Donald’s daughter, Donna McDonald. Her brother, Tom McDonald, chimed in, “It was almost better than the local barber shop.”

The McDonalds are a family rooted into East Hampton from the ground up. Donald was born in East Hampton, in a house, not a hospital. He later met his wife, Alice, while he was lifeguarding at Main Beach, a marriage that would last 54 years. Although Donald had begun to delegate responsibilities to their children around 2008, it was in 2011, after Alice passed away, that both Donna and Tom took over management of Park Place. Donna handles the staff and Tom handles accounting. Together, they’ve refreshed an old family business into a thriving business model for the future.

At 89 years old, Donald still comes into the store on a daily basis. “He’s an old fixture in the community. He has a mindset where he cares about people and East Hampton,” said Donna about her father. It’s become a synchronized routine, both endearing and lighthearted, as the staff pulls all the bottles to the front of the store and leaves them out so Donald can see them upon arrival. While Donald has stepped back, he certainly hasn’t tired out, she said.

“It’s been such a wonderful experience to work with my brother,” said Donna. She moved to San Francisco in 1996, but still spends her summers in East Hampton and during the holiday months, where she always sees Tom, who has remained a local. She said she relishes “the joy of having people come in, and the cultural experience of not just meeting people, but helping them with the history of a wine, how it pairs.”

Park Place has evolved from a discount liquor store into more of a wine shop, with sommeliers and industry experts that bring knowledge and value into the area. There’s even a tasting table in the store where patrons can partake in sampling different products before buying, from wine to tequila, whiskey, and more.

courtesy of Donna McDonald

As the McDonalds, and the entire East Hampton community, commemorate 50 years of Park Place Wines & Liquors, it’s also a celebration of life and the family that has brought moments of happiness to those around them. A bottle of wine, or liquor, is more than the alcohol by volume listed on the label. It symbolizes a gathering of friends, family, and perfect strangers. It’s date night at home, toasting to a new promotion, sipping while watching beach sunsets, a barbecue, a Tuesday night, a memory.

“When my dad was courting my mother, who was in New Jersey at the time, he would drive to her from East Hampton. This is before the Long Island Expressway was built. He would take Sunrise Highway all the way to the G.W. Bridge, just to have lunch with her family on Sundays,” Donna said of her maternal side of the family, who were all from Italy. “Italians had lunch on Sundays after church, and they’d all drink Manhattans, or Negronis. So, we drink those two things to remember my mother.”

Helping Local Horses

(This article first appeared in the November 15, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


Marylou Kaler is an East Hampton resident with a passion for equine. Driving down Route 27 heading east, just before Red Horse Market, is a wide-open space where many a passerby has pulled over to take a picture of the four magnificent White Shire horses — Gunner, Patsy, Tess, and Isabelle. They have had a rather tough life. Rescued in 2015 from Quiet Times Shires in Ridge, their former owner was found guilty of animal cruelty, abusing them as carriage drivers. In the almost three years since, with 25 years of equine caregiving experience behind her, Kaler has rehabilitated her new friends and formed an incredible bond.

Yet, without outside funds, her resources have become exhausted and thus a non-profit, Stable Environment Equine Rehabilitation, was created.

“I’m aware of the horses’ profound effect on people, their therapeutic value for equine-facilitated mental health,” Kaler explained.

“I hope to be able to create a more positive image of working horses by making the correct information freely accessible. Gunner and Patsy have some driving experience; however, I am lacking the proper equipment to move forward with their training. They are a team and I have only a single harness.”

With the cold weather officially setting in, the animals need to be moved indoors no later than November 30. Over $25,000 is needed in order to properly shield the four horses from the weather, and that’s where photographer and restauranteur Lincoln Pilcher stepped in. Owner of the former Hamptons’ hotspot Moby’s, Pilcher spends a lot of his time on the East End, passing by the creatures often.

“I was so taken with their presence and beauty,” Pilcher acknowledged. “It’s been an amazing experience creating the bond and camaraderie that I now have with them. It would be great to share with others, this equine relationship.”

Pilcher spent some time developing a relationship with Kaler after photographing the breed. Upon finding out there was no place for the animals come winter, he came up with the idea for a show. In the days following Thanksgiving, November 24 and 25, visit Dune Alpin Farm for Pilcher’s photography exhibit in which a portion of the sales are going to Kaler’s non-profit to board the horses. About 20 prints will range in size with the largest 6′ x 8′.

Yektai: An Ascension Through the Generations

(This article first appeared in the November 1, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


Growing up in an artistic household creates unique circumstances. Trips to the ballpark are replaced with excursions to European museums. Patriarch of the Yektai family, Manoucher Yektai’s cultural exploration through Iran, France, and the United States has made him a well-known Abstract Expressionist painter for the better part of the last century. Like father like sons, as Nico and Darius followed in their father’s footsteps years later.

The show “Yektai” is running at Guild Hall through December 31. After seeing his sculpture “The Ascension, ” chief curator Christina Strassfield felt Darius should have his own show. It includes his father’s and brother’s works as well.

“In the art world, people like to believe that lightning can’t strike twice in the same place,” contemporary artist, Darius, expressed.

“In a way, I benefitted when my father removed himself from the art world. He had been everywhere and had all the attention that he needed. In fact, he pushed away a lot more attention than he should have. He left room for us to step forward and be artists in our own right.”

As children, Nico, furniture maker, and Darius observed their father working in the studio without distraction. Manoucher’s concentration profoundly relayed the message that a true work needs no approval. “That existential kind of doing of something long enough justifies itself. The ends justify the means,” Darius remembered. “Growing up and seeing him, the devotion he had to his work — he was in the studio, very serious.”

Manoucher’s emphasis of the surface in his works indirectly spoke of art history and the dialogue before him. By leaving the staples on the edge of his work, he reminds the viewer that “it’s a stretched volume.” To his sons, this was an understanding, a lesson based on truth.

Fast forward to today, the language is still being spoken. Darius’s works are open narratives with a magnetic push and pull between sculpture and painting art forms. “In order for a painting to be honest it needs to tell you what it truthfully is. No matter how close you get them [sculpture and painting], they never become sealed to the other.”

Nico’s furniture is reminiscent of their father’s brushstrokes. The planks or blocks of wood are in harmony with Manoucher’s thick, layered canvas pieces. In a circle of influence, Darius sculpts with pieces of wood tossed aside from Nico’s cut off pieces, “the negative space.”

Like many working families encouraging the next generation to follow in their father, or mother’s, footsteps, the possibility of becoming a professional artist was always there for Nico and Darius. In Darius’s case, it took studying geology at Occidental College in California for him to make the transition. “Geology is f***ing awesome!” Darius enthusiastically exclaimed. “It’s like a puzzle and a clue. A lot of the math and the things I studied in the sciences ended up in my paintings. You can go up to the surface of my paintings and you can see the layering.”

It’s through love, respect, and admiration that a father’s passion transcends time and ascends through the generations. Each drop of paint, each new work, a new lesson about life.

Darius smiled. “My father used to say you’re an artist now. You have to get to a place where you’re above all [the drama], that you can be in love with that rock, that tree, and all the love you need is there.”