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Cover subject Claudia Fleming of The North Fork Table & Inn is recognized as one of the great American pastry chefs. But photographer Dave Benthal wanted to show her and the other subjects we featured in this special issue outside of the environment we’re used to seeing them in. So rather than just photographing Fleming in the kitchen, he met her at Magic Fountain in Mattituck — another dessert haven on the North Fork — to show another side of her. The result was a sweet and playful cover for our first issue of 2019.

The idea of doing a women’s issue of Northforker is something we’d been kicking around for about a year.

And after we did our first special issue about the working waterfront last September, it became clear that this was something we needed to do.

It’s not that I didn’t love that particular issue — it’s actually my favorite one yet — but boy was that filled with a lot of men’s stories. After spending a month drowning in beards and flannel, our staff began itching to pursue the women’s issue concept.

That’s not to say this issue is all about balancing things out or righting some kind of wrong. It’s just that this is the North Fork and it’s hard to go a single day here without being impressed with or inspired by the work of women.

The only challenge we faced was narrowing our list of profiles to just eight — two for each of the four themes in our magazine. At the end of our final meeting on narrowing down the subjects, we still had 20 names on our list, and had to reconvene in a smaller group to cut it down even further. It’s my hope this particular theme can be repeated, so we continue to showcase even more women who inspire us on the North Fork.

This inaugural lineup, however, has a little something for everyone. The issue hit newsstands beginning Monday and the individual stories will become available online throughout the month.

These are stories about women finding their voices or a sense of place. In some cases it’s about recharting a course or reinventing themselves. 

As I read each of the pieces this month — all written by female staffers and contributors — I thought about what this issue meant as a whole. We did our best not to steer them in some sort of common — and therefore contrived — direction. But do the stories have some sort of common theme beyond just being about women?

Ultimately I would say they’re stories about people who have created something others can appreciate. They are all community builders, even if that’s not exactly what they’ve set out to be or what we aimed to capture in their profiles.

They are all women who showcase what is wonderful about the North Fork and in turn work to make it a better, prettier and more positive place.

— Grant Parpan, Content Director