Daniel Lauter

 

Introducing our newest Villager, Daniel Lauter. Daniel's contribution to our Village is the gift of music. His lively and passionate performances at the Station continually have our guests dancing in their seats, creating a vibe that is not easily replicated. In addition to local gigs, Daniel also performs out east with his Long Island based group, LUMA (Life Unity Music Amplified). If you have not yet had the chance to catch one of Daniel's performances at the Station, we highly recommend clearing your calendars for his next show on October 22. Keep reading to acquaint yourself with this very talented Villager! 

CS: Many of the songs your band performs at the Station are original tracks. Do you have a preference between composing and playing? 

DL: The essence of jazz is improvisation. Often as I’m playing, while I am doing tunes with structure and melodies that I write, when I am playing with a certain level of musician who can musically communicate I’ll start to improvise on the spot within the song structure.  A lot of times I’ll be practicing, just blown’ at home and as I’m improvising a melody will start to sing in my head so I’ll record it or write it down, and it becomes a tune. So I compose through playing. I rarely just sit down and start to write a composition out on paper first. Usually the composition comes from either being in the flow of playing or it just pops into my head.  Sometimes walking down the street a bass line pops in and the same happens, I’ll start to build on that.  All the tunes we play in the quartet are original.  Sometimes the whole quartet will be in improv mode together.  That’s live.

CS: Our community may be unaware that in addition to being an accomplished jazz musician, you are also a Meditation DJ. Can you please describe what is means to be a Meditation DJ? 

DL: Sure, have been involved in teaching meditation and mindfulness for many years, using found and sacred sound objects to write ambient and global meditation music.  Some people like to meditate to one type of sound, others stillness and breath, others light, color, walking or other types of motion. So in my work with teachers and students I try to accommodate their needs by creating a palette of choice for how they can best benefit from mindfulness and meditation.  It’s like spinning vinyl.  Sometimes you mix one thing with another, like a DJ, in this case a modality of meditation. Other times you just stay deeply in the groove and riff or improvise as well.  

CS: How did the practices of meditation and mindfulness come to be such an integral part of you life?

DL: When I was in my 20’s I started to have really powerful clarity dreams.  Learned to play didjeridu and circular breathing in my dreams, began to work with blue healing light in other dreams, others were about compassion.  When these type of things occur they become life changing on certain levels.  I felt like there was a reason these things were happening so I started working within the field of the healing arts, in sound therapy, ultimately received Certification as a Sound Practitioner. Meditation and mindfulness teachings have been very influential and helpful for me to transform emotions, gain confidence, work through stress and adversity. The more it helped me I wanted to share these practices with others.  

CS: If you could have front seat tickets to any concert of you choice, who would you choose to see?

DL: I would have loved to see Miles and Hendrix live together, didn’t get a chance to see either. Saw James Brown, Bob Marley, Ravi Shankar, Cab Calloway. Wayne Shorter was a big inspiration, saw him play live too.  Still on the list for sure is Tina Turner, Shakira, Missy Elliot.

CS: What is the biggest challenge jazz musicians face in 2016?

DL: I think a large challenge is there are not a lot of places for people to play. For as many musicians as there are, there are not a lot of clubs that have good live music. People are also not as used to going out regularly locally.  The tendency sometimes is to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for concert tickets to see pop stars.  That is why I was so thrilled to see Chappaqua Station come about! The room is so nice and the vibe is warm!

 

Leslie Weissman

Our June Villager of the month is not only an artist, but a mom, philanthropist and all around amazing person. Meet Leslie Weissman, co-founder of the Northern Westchester Artists Guild. The connection between artist and café may be hard to make, but once you walk through our doors you will quickly understand.  Leslie is the woman behind the beautiful watercolor and acrylic artwork currently hanging up throughout the Station. The pieces are part of a larger collection which pay homage to the late architectural critic urban planner and historian, Lewis Mumford. 

CS: What does being creative mean to you?

LW: I capture what I think and what I see in imagery. I always need my hands and fingers to be busy. Being creative is not only an outlet for me but engaging in a creative activity helps me think and continue to evolve my art practice…I am always drawing, sketching, taking pictures and often they turn into larger projects.

I get inspired in by ephemera and colors…I love paper and trinkets, books and journals…they all seems to provide me with inspiration!

CS: Where do you find inspiration?

LW: My surroundings; the look and feel of what I encounter and the people and structures who populate my daily travels.

CS: Is there a creative medium you have not yet pursued but would like to?

LW: I would like to work with glass and ceramics and make very large scale installations based on my monotypes of planned suburban developments.

CS:  As founder of the Northern Westchester Artists Guild, why do you believe it is important to support art in local communities?

LW: Having co-founded NWAG with Peg Sacker close to 2 years ago I am thrilled that we are supporting artist and bringing art to our community. Art helps bring people together and create dialogue…it is not necessarily about the aesthetic of the final product but the conceptual process behind its creation. Art is a visual history of our time, whether it’s a pictorial recording of a landscape or still life or an abstract conceptual work meant to articulate social and political concerns, art is a shared language and thus something we can use as a means to facilitate communications and conversations with our neighbors.

CS: Who is your favorite artist? Why?  

LW: Jackson Pollack…he found his voice in a unique way and was able to record the sentiment of a time that has had a lasting impression and historical importance.

 

 

Sherry Blockinger

Our Villager of the month is Sherry Blockinger - the amazing dessert chef behind Chappaqua's Sherry B Dessert Studio. After our first experience tasting Sherry's delicious creations some time ago, we knew we had to incorporate her products in our menu. The heavenly ice cream we serve, in addition to the spiced syrup (used in an Old Fashioned), have Sherry B written all over them (literally). Having just been awarded "Best Chocolate Chip Cookie" from Westchester Magazine, we knew it was time to get personal with Sherry. 

CS: Any particular reason why you chose Chappaqua to be the home of your business? 

SB: There are so many reasons! I grew up in Rockland and went to middle school and high school in Westchester so the area is near and dear to me. In fact, I was a drummer in a band in high school and our first gig was a Greeley graduation party. 

My husband Jeff and I own the building that houses sbds and Chappaqua Wine & Spirits. The building was neglected and in disrepair, a real eyesore right in the middle of town. We took it down to the studs (and then some!) and rebuilt it to be the amazing space it is today. Our hope was to inspire other building owners and merchant tenants to follow suit and begin to beautify downtown Chappaqua, revive the restaurant and shopping scene and become a cultural hub for northern Westchester and the Hudson valley.

CS: What sets a dessert studio apart from a traditional bakery?

SB: I love this question. There is almost nothing about sbds that resembles a bakery, except, of course, desserts. My background as a pastry chef is in restaurants and recipe and product development. The idea for the studio evolved from my training and is representative of the convergence of my passions. I was a communications major and art & design minor in college. I studied drums and percussion from the age of 10 through high school  (I still love to play when I can find the time) and to this day music frames my life. I had jobs in broadcasting and marketing communications and global branding before attending culinary school. You could say it took me a minute to find my way, but it lead to the idea and creation of sbds. The studio is a place that celebrates the intersection of food and art. Pastry is an art form. I have so much respect and admiration for my colleagues who strive to achieve the perfect blend of art and science to create magnificent desserts. It is not unlike an artist's process. By creating the studio, I have a platform to showcase not only my work in pastry but the work of other up and coming and established chefs, artists and artisans across every genre.

CS: Is baking a skill that was passed down to you through your family or is this a passion of your own?

SB: I definitely have fond memories of baking and cooking with my family. Rainy days equal chocolate chip cookies with my mom and my brother and making waffles with my dad on Sunday mornings was always special.  My interest in, and passion for, baking happened later for me. I studied Nutrition in college and was fascinated which lead to a desire to learn to cook and bake. I believe that in every person lies an inherent cook or baker. I'm an insane perfectionist. I love symmetry, organization, precision.  At the same time, I have a vivid imagination and curiosity. I love art and design in all forms. I am such a pastry chef.

CS: Which are some of your most popular desserts?

SB: This answer changes seasonally, if not daily. On warmer days, naturally, ice cream is a big hit. Rainy days are brownie days. Celebrations bring on the cupcakes and custom cakes. For me, every day is a cookie day! 

CS: It seems that fad creations are always popping up in the world of sweets, from cake-pops to cronuts. In your opinion, is it more important to perfect the classics or create trendy “of the moment” items? Why?

SB: The answer, for me, lies in the balance. Classics are classic meaning always in style. Trends are hip and now, exciting and creative. I try to strike a balance between creative thinking and classic technique.

CS: You are about to have your last dessert on earth. What do you choose?

SB: This is almost too easy, like to an embarrassing extent... A big plate of chocolate chip cookies with a Chappaqua Station old fashioned and the Cookie Monster as my date. On jazz night, of course. Wait, can you make that happen?!

 

 

 

Bruce Schneider

Bruce Schneider

Eco-friendly, economical and convenient, the wine on tap industry has proven to be a game-changer for producers and consumers alike. The winemakers behind Gotham Project have revolutionized quality wines on tap by producing in 100% stainless steel kegs.
We met with Bruce Schneider, co- founder of Gotham Project, to discuss the out-of-the-bottle movement. We wanted to know if wine on tap is re-writing the future of wine consumption. 
CS: We love what you are accomplishing with Gotham Project. Can you tell us how you and your business partner, Charles Bieler, brought this idea to fruition?
Bruce: Charles and I had been looking for a project to do together and one day he called me and asked what I thought about putting wine in kegs. I told him "why the hell not". Within days I had found us a small lot of delicious Finger Lakes Riesling. We purchased four kegs, started experimenting, and three months later we launched Gotham Project with a few restaurateur friends for the beta test. The positive response exceeded all expectations.
CS: What's the story with wine on tap?
Bruce: Wine on tap is nothing new. In fact, in many ways it pre-dates bottled wines. There are records of wine on tap being served at the Metropolitan Hotel going back to the late 1800s. However, for the past 30 years wine on tap meant 'plonk' where you could find it, mostly in Europe. Despite efforts by large companies to bring it to the consumer market, it never caught on in the U.S.
CS: What makes wine on tap different in terms of marketability?
Bruce: The need has never been greater in the U.S. for "a better glass of wine" in two key criteria, freshness and sustainability.
Gotham Project uses locally filled and reusable stainless steel kegs, tackling the issues of compromised wine being served by the glass and landfills receiving millions of glass bottles every year.
Wine on tap is served under pressure with inert gas that ensures the first glass and the last from the keg are as fresh and delicious as the winemaker intended them to be.
CS: How have people reacted to the idea of wine on tap? Are they ready for this shift in wine drinking?
Bruce: People have been very receptive to it, primarily restaurateurs. They love the freshness, sustainability, and the convenience. It is much easier to handle one slim keg than 26 bottles of wine: the equivalent volume of one keg of wine on tap.
Consumers have also embraced the alternative packaging. Screw-top closures led the way for this change. Ten years ago, consumers largely rejected ‘screw-tops’. Today there are very few consumers who judge the quality of the wine based on the bottle’s seal. 
We're proud to serve Gotham Project wines on tap at the station and at être avec toi aka êat, our newest eatery in Montreal. Pop in for a fresh glass! 
 

Mary Lynn McRee & Suzanne Lindeloff

Mary Lynn McRee & Suzanne Lindeloff

Meet Mary Lynn McRee and Suzanne Lindelof – two of Chappaqua Garden Club’s volunteer members and this month’s featured Villagers. The ladies, Mary Lynn with her eye for floral flourish and Suzanne with her perennial green thumb, are both dedicated to civic improvement and beautifying Chappaqua. The Garden Club has a history rooted in tradition, preservation and protection of local flora. It aims to educate all of its members in horticulture, landscape design and flower arranging. Suzanne and Mary Lynn’s unwavering passion for plants and volunteer work has added to the town’s charm, creating an attractive and inspiring outdoor community for all its residents.  We sat down with Suzanne and Mary Lynn to learn more about the club’s projects and its upcoming handmade wreath sale.

CS: How does the Chappaqua Garden Club add value to its residents?

MLM: Our garden club plays a significant role in the town’s beautification. We develop and maintain gardens throughout the town and stimulate the ‘greening’ of Chappaqua through tree planting, beautification sites and promote interest in native plants, wildflower, grasses and wildlife habitats. Most recently, we’ve worked on Pocket Park and the 9/11 Memorial Garden. We also like to add to our members’ lives by providing a welcoming environment where people can get creative, get outside, and meet their neighbors. It’s a very friendly club.

SL: Our garden club’s aim is to educate our members, conserve our local flora and really make Chappaqua a beautiful place to wake up and live in. From our junior classes, where we teach kids positive environmental attitudes, to providing garden therapy through floral arrangement sessions to residents at the Victoria Home in Ossining, our work enhances and educates our community.   We also have guest speakers at each of our monthly meetings.  This fall we’ve had a renowned garden designer, an expert on peonies and a wonderful speaker on indoor houseplants.  All of these lectures are open to the general public.

 

CS: What have been some of the challenges encountered by the Chappaqua Garden Club?

MLM: We try to educate our members as much as we can on native plants of the region and how to conserve and protect them. For instance, the Annabelle hydrangea is a native flowering shrub to our region. It’s this beautiful plant with enormous white flowers that look like puffy balls.  It blooms every summer.

SL: But then Gardening Centers will sell an invasive species of plant, like Burning Bush or Scarlet, and people will buy and plant them not knowing that they have a negative impact on the environment.

MLM: Then this invasive species takes over our native species’ resources. We need plants like Annabelle to survive in order to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. So educating and creating awareness in order to protect our native species can be a challenge.

 

CS: The garden club is a non-profit organization. How has it managed to maintain its club existence for over 80 years?

MLM: Mainly through the hard work and dedication of its members.  We’ve also recently received funding from the Beautification Advisory Board, which paid for the town’s 96 hanging baskets and 52 planters this summer.

SL: Our garden club volunteers offered their time to plant all of the baskets! It was really fantastic. Our members’ commitment to enhancing the lives of our fellow Chappaqua residents is very apparent and it shows when they pitch in and help out on these types of projects.

MLM: In addition to membership dues, we have 2 major fundraising sales throughout the year; one of which Suzanne is at the helm of. The first is for Mother’s Day where we sell beautiful hanging baskets, perennials, herbs, pre-planted patio pots, plants for the garden and flower center pieces.  We are especially known for plants that our members have dug up from their own gardens.

SL: The second – which is happening now – is our annual wreath sale!! Designed and handmade by club members, we make dozens of wreaths, fireplace mantle pieces, baskets, tiny trees and swags and sell them the week after Thanksgiving at the Pocket Park. We also do custom wreath orders.

 

CS: When we heard about the Club’s upcoming wreath sale, we thought they’d be perfect for the station.

MLM: Of course! We’ve started brainstorming ideas for the eight we are making for the station. We’ve chosen some really beautiful burlap with red trim ribbons, pinecones, and some embellished greens and holly. Local tree companies and club members donate some greens to help with the cost of decorating the wreaths. It’s going to look so beautiful and festive. Perfect for the warm wood tones of the station. They will go all along the eight front windows. We can’t wait to hang them!

SL: It’s really a fun and creative three days. We take over the basement at the church, lay all of our decorations, trinkets, tools and create. The variations of wreaths that are made are so different and unique. And it’s a good opportunity to gather, catch up and work towards a goal of creating something that will bring happiness to Chappaqua residents’ lives. We love adorning Chappaqua homes in style by creating extraordinary arrangements from materials we find right here, in our town.

 

If you are interested in purchasing a wreath and/or information on joining the Chappaqua Garden Club, check out their website here for more information. 

Pascale Le Draoulec

Pascale Le Draoulec

Food, art and education play a critical role in shaping a community’s identity. Chappaqua and its surrounding towns are home to an army of hardworking farmers, artists, and motivated taste-makers who aim to fuel dynamism and growth among their neighbors by providing superior products, services and expertise.
 

As part of our series - It Takes A Village - we are proud to showcase our first Villager Pascale Le Draoulec. Pascale is a seasoned food writer and author of American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads (HarperCollins). Pascale also serves as Director of the Chappaqua Farmers Market.

CS: How did the Chappaqua Farmer's Market come to fruition?

PLD: Priscilla Sorenson and a small group of devoted Chappaqua residents founded the market in 2010. At the time, I was running a farmers market in Hastings and was approached by Priscilla to help shape the identity and sustainable agenda for Chappaqua’s farmers market. We started with a winter market and by the time summer rolled around, we had built momentum and launched the market with 25 vendors. Since then, our market has become the town’s Saturday social and we operate all year long!

CS: What benefits do you think people get from using the market? 

PLD: The presence of a farmers market in the community results in the opportunity for locals to connect and interact with farmers and other members of the community. Its gives the townspeople a chance to become more than acquaintances with their neighbors: it’s an opportunity to chat and socialize and catch up on the week’s happenings. There are activities for kids and the market serves as a hub to discover new vendors and businesses, which keep money in the community and helps small businesses thrive.

CS: What does the farmers market mean to today’s average family compared to families 10 years ago?

PLD: As suburbs and supermarkets gained in popularity, farmers’ markets witnessed a sharp decline in community presence, but they have recently seen a resurgence of interest and loyalty among consumers committed to supporting local farmers and local businesses. Also, ten years ago, you’d typically see moms with their grocery list, perusing the markets and preparing for her family’s upcoming week. Now, Saturday mornings at the farmers market has become quality family time. Strollers and cars full of kids, dogs, produce and stories are such a beautiful and common sight!

CSWhat would Chappaqua be like without the farmers' market?

PLD: People would be less inspired to gather and there would definitely be less dinner parties with recipes inspired by the season’s produce. The thing is, Chappaqua’s farmers market is more than just a place to buy food. It is community-building, community-defining and a community-sustaining institution. It builds stronger family ties, promotes volunteerism, and opportunities for our citizen’s involvement in matters of importance to the community. People are appreciative of the market and are cognizant of the role they play in helping maintaining it.

CS: Where do you see the market in 5 years?

PLD: I hope that we can keep the location, just in front of the Chappaqua train station and evolve so that we offer something new every week. We're really happy with how the market has shaped into something the town enjoys and feels is a part of their lives. If we can maintain that integrity, experiment with more vendors and keep the community engaged, then that same spirit will hopefully influence the next generation and keep the community hub afloat. Kind of like an American success story of renewal.