A farewell letter from northforker editor Vera Chinese

The author inside Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck. (Credit: David Benthal)

Once upon a time, I was what is called an extreme commuter. I spent more than two hours each way traveling to various locations for my job as a reporter for the New York Daily News. I covered everyone from the famous — I liveblogged James Gandolfini’s funeral, I staked out Anthony Weiner — to teachers charged with sexually assaulting their students to mothers whose sons had just been shot in the head by drug dealers. It was a brutal job that took me to the harshest corners of New York City and beyond. At the end of the day, I would turn around and drive two to three hours back to the Suffolk County home I share with my husband.

What a welcome change it was when I accepted a job as editor of a new lifestyle brand by the name of northforker. The position offered creative freedom, a break from the conventional 24-hour news cycle and the chance to return to the place where I started my career.

Best of all, I would be spending my days in what I tell people is just about heaven on earth. Here, you can pull over to the side of the road, tuck five dollars into the cash box at a roadside farm stand and walk away with a dozen pasture-raised eggs, a transaction completed purely under the honor system. It’s where you frequently find yourself braking to grab an Instagram shot of the sun setting over a vineyard. Where you wake up at 6 a.m. on a workday to squeeze in a Peconic Bay paddleboard session.

That is why I am sad to say I will be leaving my post as the editor of northforker.com and northforker magazine. I’ve taken a position as a Newsday reporter.

What a dream it has been to build this brand and immerse myself in the North Fork community. Every day I spoke with creative, passionate people who are making their livings in unorthodox way. Yes, the North Fork is attractive for its vineyard views and scenic bays, but honestly, it’s the people who live here that make it special.

There’s chef Taylor Knapp, the Nofo’s only snail wrangler and the force behind the inventive PawPaw pop-up dinners, and Jess Dunne and Jennilee Morris and their roastery which makes the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, Abra Moraweic who started an organic quail farm and many others forging their own unique paths. There is an entire farm devoted to lavender, for goodness sake! There are too many people to list in this column.

For nearly four years, I got to write and make videos about cool people doing cool things in a cool place.

It wouldn’t have been possible without our readers’ support. There are countless mediums competing for your eyeballs these days, so it’s an honor that you came back day after day to read our stories, share our Facebook posts or pick up our magazine.

What fun it has been!

Because you paid attention to us, I got to eat a four-ounce oyster plucked fresh from the bay. I had front row tickets to see Beck in concert and stomped grapes with my feet! How’s that for a work day?

OK, so that sounds a little selfish. In addition to having a blast, I hope I connected our readers with the artisans, chefs, farmers and entrepreneurs who live here. I hope you made memories from our suggestions. And I hope the business owners gained loyal customers in the process.

But good news for any journalists reading this essay: northforker is hiring a reporter to cover the latest happenings in food, wine and fun. Interested candidates can send resumes and cover letters to Grant Parpan at gparpan@timesreview.com.

I’d also like to take a second to give a shout-out to my co-workers as well as our freelancers and contributors who made it happen. People like our sharp (and sometimes acerbic) wine columnist Lenn Thompson; supremely talented photographers like Randee Daddona, David Benthal and Madison Fender; and our consulting editor Jane Lear. How lucky was I to have these people want to work with me?

So with this letter I say, farewell, northforkers!

The author is the former editor of northforker.com. She can be reached at verachinese@gmail.com.

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