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Martha's Vineyard hospital has been preparing for Ebola since August. – File photo by Michael Cummo

The World Health Organization has called the recent Ebola outbreak “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.”

On Monday, results from a survey by National Nurses United of more than 2,100 registered nurses in 46 states reported that 85 percent of them said their hospitals have given them no specific training on dealing with the virus.

Such is not the case on Martha’s Vineyard. “We started looking into this in August, in conjunction with Partners HealthCare,” Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief nurse executive Carol Bardwell told The Times. “We evaluated what we had for isolation facilities and protective gear. We’ve added more gear and we’ve had regular drills and information sessions for the staff, and we’ll continue to update our protocol per the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control.”

Under the current hospital plan, if a person checks in showing any symptoms of Ebola, they will be asked if they have traveled to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone. If they answer yes, they will be put into an isolation unit until a special ambulance from Mass General Hospital arrives on the Island.

Additionally, Ms. Bardwell said the hospital is bringing in a consultant from Sylvester Consultants in Hyannis on Monday to evaluate hospital housekeeping protocol. “We think it’s valuable to have a third party take a look at our procedures,” she said.

The first recorded Ebola fatality in United States occurred on October 8, when a man who’d recently returned from Liberia succumbed to the disease in a Dallas,Texas, hospital. Two attending nurses were infected with the virus, and one of them flew on a commercial flight to Ohio, unaware she had contracted the deadly disease. Both women are showing steady improvement, but the incident served as a reminder that no place is immune to a virulent virus in the jet-age.

“We hope it doesn’t happen here, but we’re doing everything we can to be prepared if it does,” Ms. Bardwell said, adding that the virus is not transmitted through the air, like the flu, but is spread only by direct exposure to an infected person’s bodily fluids.

Martha's Vineyard Times file pho

“Haunted Island: 20 Year Anniversary Edition,” Down East Books, Camden, Maine, Paperback $14.95. Available at Bunch of Grapes, Edgartown Books, The Secret Garden in Oak Bluffs, and on Amazon.

Holly Nadler likes to scare people. For years she operated a business conducting ghost tours around the Island. She’s also written three books dealing with the supernatural — two about Vineyard ghosts and one on of Boston’s more cosmopolitan spirit counterparts. Her latest offering is a revised and updated edition of the book that got her into the ghost business in the first place: Haunted Island.

But though Ms. Nadler has a fondness — and a real talent — for giving people goosebumps, you can always sense a twinkle in her eye and a sly giggle as she recounts the tales of the ghosts and ghoulies who, like many Vineyard transplants, have found a home on the Vineyard, and just can’t seem to tear themselves away.

It’s not surprising that Ms. Nadler has a tendency to find some lightheartedness in even the darkest of tales. A former television comedy writer (Laverne and Shirley, Barney Miller, etc.) Ms. Nadler continues to have a knack for looking at life from a somewhat skewed perspective.

Still, despite the fact that the stories in Haunted Island are told with wit and humor, there are some truly scary moments in the book. Some of the spookier tales involve a creepy quintet of ragged ancient mariners invading the bedrooms of young female visitors of a Victorian Inn, a half man/half beast creature roaming the woods of Aquinnah, and one particularly haunted house that seems to drive otherwise mild-mannered tenants to horrifically violent acts.

Haunted Island was originally published in 1994. Since then, Ms. Nadler has become, in her words, “a repository for Vineyard ghost stories.” Apparently, folks approach her all the time to unburden the personal stories that they almost refuse to give credence to themselves. In her second book, Vineyard Supernatural, the author mined this wealth of gathered stories. In the updated version of Haunted Island she has dipped further into that stockpile to add new tales, and has gone back to the sources of some of the original stories to provide updates and new information.

Haunted Island includes 27 stories set at locations all around the Vineyard. From Oak Bluffs cottages to old Edgartown hostelries (the spirit population seems to be particularly fond of the Island’s inns) to remote up-Island settings, ghosts appear in a myriad of forms, and with as many temperaments. There are sad ghosts still mourning some long-ago tragedy and helpful ghosts watching out for homeowners’ children, sparking romance or even, in one case, saving the lives of a young family. There are also a few genuinely malicious ghosts in Haunted Island.

Flesh-and-blood characters also populate the stories of Ms. Nadler’s book. And, just as she has a talent for bringing the dead to life (if you will), she is also adept at painting intimate portraits of the living population of the Vineyard. The book’s locales are also evocatively rendered and, when it comes to setting a creepy tone, Ms. Nadler is expert. In the first tale — a new addition about the old Marine Hospital — the author describes the archetypal dark and stormy night:

“A moonless night over Vineyard Haven harbor, late 1890’s. Wind has gusted all day, and now it plays havoc with the ink black waters, frothing them in every direction. Lightning discharges and fades, disclosing silver masts of ships anchored in these turbulent seas, sails furled, halyards clanging like bells rung by demons.”

In Haunted Island, we get a good glimpse of the Vineyard throughout many eras. With thorough researched (one can just picture Ms. Nadler poring over dusty old documents and outdated newspapers) she attempts to make some sense out of why some ghosts just refuse to rest in peace. Through a combination of factual information and speculation, in each story, the author conjectures on the possible causes of hauntings, but ultimately, she figuratively just throws up her hands and has to admit that the otherworldly just seem to have minds of their own.

Perhaps, like many of us, once they’ve managed to secure a home on the Vineyard, these ghosts just can’t seem to let it go.

Bunch of Grapes reading and signing, Friday, Oct. 24, 7 pm.

Oak Bluffs Library reading and signing, Thursday, Oct. 30, 6 pm.

The Anchors luncheon and reading about the ghost in the Anchors’ attic, Friday, Oct. 31, 1 pm.

Edgartown Books, book signing, Saturday, November 1, 11 am to 1 pm.

From left, Alfred Molina as George and John Lithgow as Ben. —Photo by Jeong Park, Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Love at the movies usually concerns the romantic life of young couples. Not so with Ira Sachs’s new film, Love Is Strange. This director’s love story explores and celebrates the long-abiding love of two aging men, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina). The film, which opens this weekend at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, offers viewers an unusually rich view of urban domestic life. Love Is Strange opens on the morning of Ben and George’s wedding in Manhattan. The camera work quickly signals that while this couple’s world may not include the usual Hollywood signifiers — movie-star good looks and youthful, toned bodies — it seeks out unusual perspectives and lingers in unexpected places. The film lovingly immerses the viewer in the urban landscape that is so much a part of this gay couple’s life together, in some of the ways Woody Allen has paid tribute to New York in his movies. By relying on Chopin and other classical music, the soundtrack reinforces yet another element of the couple’s world, since George is a piano teacher and choral director.

The post-wedding party, held at Ben and George’s co-op apartment, uses none of the clichés so often found in movie versions of parties. Instead it introduces us to the couple’s distinctive extended family. Ben’s nephew Elliott (Darren Burrows), a filmmaker, is there with his novelist wife Kate (Marisa Tomei) and their teenaged son, Joey (Charlie Tahan), whose remarkably subtle performance will make the viewer realize how inauthentic most movie teenagers are. On George’s side are Ted (Cheyenne Jackson) and Roberto (Manny Perez), the gay cop couple that are George and Ben’s next-door neighbors. The slightly kookie Mindy (Christina Kirk) is significant primarily for living outside of Manhattan, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. What is important about Ben and George’s extended family is that they are recognizable less for their connections to gay culture than to any middle class world.

The classic model for romantic comedy keeps its putative couple at odds, or at least apart, at the start and ends with their happy union. Mr. Sachs up-ends that convention by starting with marital bliss and finishing with separation. The switch is particularly appropriate for a gay couple, since Ben and George have already lived together happily and successfully for many years, while their marriage marks society’s recent legitimization of gay marriage. The twist that separates Ben and George physically, if not emotionally, situates the story in the real world, where bigotry rears its ugly head even in the wake of social change.

George loses his job at a Catholic school because his marriage defies Church doctrine. Like so many other Americans, George and Ben (who is retired) are then tossed on the shoals of economic distress. They must sell their co-op apartment and move in with family and friends. The world of New York real estate being the space-challenged place that it is, no one has enough room to house both members of the couple. Ben, a chatty amateur painter, ends up with his nephew and family, sharing bunk beds with a resentful Joey, and workspace with novelist Kate. George, who favors solitary pleasures, finds himself on the sofa of his ex-neighbors, Ted and Roberto, who always seem to have a party in the making. The friction caused by overcrowded living arrangements generates plenty of gentle humor.

Love Is Strange’s masterful acting, headlined by Lithgow, Molina, and Tomei, brings rare depth to this story of domestic life. It is a quintessentially modern story, one told with care and great affection rather than sentimentality or melodrama.

Love Is Strange, Friday, October 24, 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, October 25, 4 p.m, M.V. Film Center. For more information, see mvfilmsociety.com.

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West Tisbury selectmen Tuesday voted to allow town hall employees to lock offices doors when alone on a floor. —Photo by Michael Cummo

West Tisbury selectmen last week adopted a new safety and security policy for the town hall under which an employee alone on a floor in the three-story building during regular business hours will be allowed to lock the door to his or her floor and post a note asking visitors to knock. In some cases, the employee could refuse to open the door.

Adopted October 15, the policy states: “If an employee finds that they are alone on their floor during regular business hours they may, if they choose, lock the entrance door to their floor and post a note asking patrons to knock for entrance into the floor. If the employee has reason to feel concerned they may refuse entrance to that individual. If a patron is refused entrance the employee shall notify their department head or board members immediately of the incident. After regular business hours the door from the lobby to the stairwell and the elevator shall be locked unless there is a public meeting taking place in the building.”

The policy did not satisfy Michael Colaneri, chairman of the board of assessors, who initially raised the issue with selectmen in July when he said that an employee who works on the third floor told him she did not feel safe when she realized that she is sometimes the only employee in the building during hours when the town hall is open to the public.

Mr. Colaneri, in an email to the selectmen dated October 7 following his review of a draft of the new policy, noted that the town hall is also a well used bus stop.

“I certainly do not want to make a mountain out of a molehill,” Mr. Colaneri said, “but in these ever precarious and uncertain times, and the town hall now being a bus depot times have changed in West Tisbury and the Island. I believe the town can do better and should do better, with a more comprehensive plan, to possibly include security cameras.”

Mr. Colaneri told selectmen Wednesday that the new policy “is minimal at best and doesn’t do enough to protect town employees.”

Selectman and town police sergeant Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter said that he thought a security camera would be a good idea. Mr. Manter said that recordings from a security camera would be used as an investigative tool only in the case of an incident and would not be routinely monitored as a surveillance camera would be. “There is hardly a place you can go today, right or wrong, that you aren’t smiling on a camera,” he said.

Selectman Richard Knabel disagreed and said he is “completely opposed to the idea” of a video camera. “To some extent it seems to me we are looking for a solution that’s looking for a problem,” he said. “I raised the issue of security five years ago when we first moved into this building because of the separation between floors and the lack of easy communication and one floor not knowing who is on the other floors.”

Mr. Knabel said he thinks there should always be someone on the first floor whenever the building is open. “Without going to extreme measures we should see how this new policy works,” he said.

Selectman Cynthia Mitchell said that employee input was solicited before the new policy was written.

In a town where many residents do not even bother to lock their doors, there is little to suggest that town hall is unsafe, with or without a bus stop.

West Tisbury police Chief Daniel Rossi told The Times that in his 23 years with the police he does not recall a single call from a town employee regarding suspicious activity in the town hall. “There have been around two calls per summer reporting suspicious activity at the bus stop in front of the town hall,” he said, “but nothing significant happened any of those times.”

Tent permits

In other business Wednesday, selectmen Mr. Knabel and Mr. Manter rejected building inspector Joe Tierney’s request to charge fees for tent permits. Mr. Tierney said fees are charged by most of the other Island towns for the permits that are required by state law for tents over 400 square feet. Selectman Cynthia Mitchell voted for the fees.

Selectmen voted unanimously to continue to team with the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank to appeal a land court decision denying public access to a part of a traditional walking path known as Old Stagecoach Way. The Massachusetts Land Court ruled that the town’s evidence was too speculative to satisfy the burden of proof in a case tied to an attempt to clear title to land owned by the McKacou Realty Trust.

Selectmen observed a moment of silence to honor the memory of Robert Potts who died on October 11. Mr. Manter said Mr. Potts always had a wise word and was a wonderful man. Mr. Knabel noted Mr. Potts’s contributions to the community through “The Broadside,” his self-published newspaper.  “He had a good sense of irony and knew how to use it,” Mr. Knabel said.

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Money for an exterior renovation of Chilmark Town Hall was among the articles approved at special town meeting Monday. —MV Times File Photo

Chilmark voters moved efficiently Monday night, disposing of 10 warrant articles on the special town meeting warrant in 35 minutes at the Chilmark community center. All articles passed, most with little voter discussion.

A total of 86 voters were officially counted by the start of the meeting, representing 9 percent of the town’s 939 registered voters.

Voters approved a Martha’s Vineyard Refuse Disposal and Resource Recovery District request to borrow $2.5 million. This money would be used to restructure the traffic flow and residential drop-off at the Edgartown transfer station.

Chilmark’s share would be up to $300,000, or 12 percent of the total. Chilmark is the first of four towns to vote in favor on the project. Aquinnah will vote this fall and Edgartown and West Tisbury will vote in the spring. All four towns must vote in favor of this project at their respective special town meetings. Oak Bluffs and Tisbury use a separate refuse transfer station.

One voter thought the $2.5 million price tag was “ridiculous.” Selectman Bill Rossi explained that the high cost is related to the future uncertainty of petroleum and asphalt costs, as this project may not commence for two years and these types of costs will increase over time.

A request for $17,000 to hire a boom mower to cut brush along town roads generated some discussion. One voter questioned if this was the type of machine that destroyed everything in its path and left piles of branches in its wake to mar the scenery.

Selectman Warren Doty said that Mark Clements of Mark Clements Tree Service is doing the work using a flail mower, which has more aesthetically pleasing results.

A request to appropriate $600,000 for the repair, reconstruction, and paving of town roads also generated questions and comments. The article required a two-thirds vote as it involved borrowing.

Mr. Rossi said, “We are just trying to keep our tax rates down and stretch it out over time like a mortgage.”

Voter Rob Doyle questioned the wisdom of borrowing the money. “It’s like taking a mortgage out to pay your utility bill,” he said. “Why are we going long term for what should be in the operating budget. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Selectmen Doty addressed the question. “You’re making a good point. This is the first time we’ve ever borrowed money to repair our roads,” he said. “We have an opportunity to refinance a bond issued six years ago, which gives us an opportunity to add an additional amount of $600,000.” He added that a mile of road costs a half million dollars.

One voter asked if there had been any thought given to widening the roads to make them safer for cyclists.

“We haven’t really considered that although I think it’s a very valid point,” said selectmen Jonathan Mayhew. “That is maybe something we can talk about next year.”

The article passed by a count of 60-5.

At the close of the meeting, Jim Malkin, chairman of the Squibnocket Committee, updated voters on the work of the committee to find a solution to continuing erosion that threatens the popular beach parking lot and subdivision access road. He first commended the committee members on their hard work while leading “full-time lives,” to which the audience clapped in approval.

Mr. Malkin updated the voters on the main issues covered during the 13 meetings held since mid-June. He said there were two primary concerns: to assist Squibnocket Farms to develop alternative access to Squibnocket Point and to improve access to beach resources for Chilmark residents. Mr. Malkin reported that all groups involved agree that the priority is preservation.

A motion was made for a non-binding vote on whether or not the committee should move rapidly in order to prepare a recommendation on a course of action in time for the town to make use of a $280,000 state grant before it expires at the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Voters said the committee should move forward rapidly.

Voters also approved $4,600 to fund the purchase of large diameter hose fittings for the new fire tanker; $13,260 to fund the hiring of a tree truck and police detail to cut trees down along town roads; $9,556 for the purchase of hardware, software, and licenses at town hall; $150 for a rented port-a-potty; $50,000 from the Community Preservation Affordable Housing Reserve to fund the year-round rental conversion program; and $65,000 from the Community Preservation Historic Resources Reserve to partially fund the external renovation of the town hall building.

The welcome booth in Oak Bluffs welcomed more people this summer.

The first quarter of fiscal year 2015 was a good one for the town of Oak Bluffs and its business community.
At Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting, town administrator Robert Whritenour told the board that estimated receipts for the quarter are up $186,231 over last year. He attributed  the increase to strong harbor receipts — which does not include the new fuel facility — and to increased local estimated receipts from restaurants and hotels.
Oak Bluffs Association president Dennis daRosa said the business community had an exceptional summer. According to Mr. daRosa, information booth manager John Newsom reported that over 45,000 visitors requested assistance at the booth in July and August this year, a 30 percent increase over last year. There were also record crowds at Harborfest in June and Tivoli Day in September, with almost double the number of vendors of both events.

Caitlin Crossland, right, prepares a plate of acorn bread she made with Kayla Leonard. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Haley Knowlton pours autumn olive mead into jars. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Haley Knowlton pours autumn olive mead into jars. —Photo by Michael Cummo

The fifth annual Local Wild Food Challenge took place on Columbus Day afternoon at the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club in Edgartown. Against the backdrop of Sengekontacket pond, amateur and professional chefs prepared dishes containing one or more native ingredients for evaluation by two separate judging panels. Scores of enthusiastic Islanders attended the event, staying well into the night to enjoy samples of the competitors’ creations.

Tyler Gibson took the grand prize for his “Around the Island” dish which was comprised of ingredients taken from all six Vineyard towns: bacon fat seared bonito, torched oysters and baby scallops with a clam chowder-like sauce, pickled Jerusalem artichoke and watercress salad with pea shoots, and muddled autumn olive steeped in Champagne.

In addition to the wild food creations, Josh Aronie’s popular taco hut was in full operation. Another vendor was Peak Organic Brewing Company of Vermont.

“For us, local fresh ingredients are what make Peak beers great and that’s what this event is all about,” Tabatha Stephens, Territory Manager for Peak Organic said. “Plus we love the Vineyard. It was such a great turnout. We’ll be back next year for sure.”

Judges Jaime Hamlin, center, and Craig Decker question seven year old Quinlan Slavin about his dish during the Wild Food Challenge. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Judges Jaime Hamlin, center, and Craig Decker question seven year old Quinlan Slavin about his dish during the Wild Food Challenge. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Seven-year-old Quinlan Slavin of Chilmark (who’s been cooking since he was three) earned runner-up in the kids’ division for his dish of Grey Barn pork belly with an autumn olive, honey, and grape sauce. Quinlan said that the highlight of the event was seeing several top Island chefs crafting right beside him. “Watching the other chefs prepare their dishes was my favorite part,” he said.

For Quinlan’s dad, Sean Slavin, watching his son confidently cooking on his own was something special. “I was very proud of how Quinlan handled himself at the Wild Food Challenge,” he said. “He wasn’t intimidated standing in between some of the best chefs on the Island. I was so grateful to all the Chefs that took the time to welcome Quinlan and really show interest in what he was cooking. Kevin Crowell of Detente and John Forti (heirloom gardener) in particular were very gracious, but everyone was great.”

Sarah and Bill Manson, the founders of Local Wild Food Challenge, were pleased at how it turned out. “This year’s event was a roaring success,” the Mansons wrote in an email to The Times. “We had nearly 50 entries and hundreds of spectators. The resourcefulness of the local Vineyarders impresses us more every year. The quality and presentation of the dishes is truly amazing. With the growing popularity of the event, we’re already planning next year’s M.V. Challenge. We’re looking to improve the flow and interactive experiences of cooking, tasting, and food education.”

Diners are treated to samples of competitors’ dishes. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Diners are treated to samples of competitors’ dishes. —Photo by Michael Cummo

The winners of the Wild Food Challenge:


Tyler Gibson: Grand Prize

Doug Werther: First Runner Up

Meg and Dan Athearn: Second Runner Up

Stephan Pond: Best Effort

Hayley Knowlton: Best Use of a Local Ingredient

Mary Jo Goodrich and Viky Diroll: Wildest Ingredient

Bobbi Lee and JP Shephard: Best Story

Kayla Leonard and Caitlin Crossland: Best from the Land

Deborah Webb: Best from the Water

Michelle Cowart: Best on the Wing

Patricia Albee and Jerry Messman: Best Dessert

Jacqueline Foster: Caroline Johnstone Award


Clara Athearn: Grand Prize

Quinlan Slavin: Runner Up

Violet Cabot: Best Effort

Madia Bellebuono: Highly Commended

Zeb Athearn: Highly Commended

Guests sample wines at last year's "Sommelier Throw Down" event. —Photo Courtesy M.V. Food and Wine Festival
—Photo Courtesy of Mandeep Shankar
—Photo Courtesy of Mandeep Shankar

Mandeep Shankar

Born in Nepal, Mandeep Shankar came to the United States in 2005 on a student visa. Mandeep started as cook at Jacob Wirth in Boston in 2006, to pay for his education. Chef Shankar was drawn to the back-of-the-house operations and became the Executive Chef of Jacob Wirth in 2012.

At Jacob Wirth, he has broadened the menu with his own talents and a palate for spice. He has worked to maintain the German traditions while presenting a menu for modern clientele that come for the history, the beer, and the food.

How and when did you start cooking? Cooking was my hobby growing up, I watched a lot of cooking shows growing up and helped my mom. I started cooking professionally at Jacob Wirth around 2007 as a line cook.

Is there a dish or meal you prepared that was part of a very special occasion?

Pork and green cabbage momo (dumpling) with chunky spicy tomato sauce, it is a very popular dish I grew up eating in Nepal, very close to my heart and very popular among people of all ages in my country. I make this for my friends at the holidays. It keeps me with one foot grounded in my culture as I celebrate new events.

Favorite dishes on any of your current menus?

Beer-braised pork shank over bacon-sautéed sauerkraut with roasted butternut squash and topped with au jus. We have this dinner special in the colder months. It is a German comfort food.

What do you cook for a romantic evening with your significant other? I am still working on finding that someone to show how my Nepali roots and German training creates a new American fusion.

What are your top five indispensable ingredients?

Thyme, pork, Spanish paprika, cloves, and cilantro, my background makes these spices and protein source the fusion of the “American Melting Pot.”

Your favorite kitchen tool?

Tongs are a second set of hands. You can never have too many hands.

What’s the best single bite you ate in the last week?

Warm honey ham with fire roasted apples, spicy mustard aioli, Swiss cheese on toasted honey wheat bread, it is a new sandwich concept for our winter menu. Sweet and spice warmed just a little.

What is currently your favorite ingredient of the fall season?

Butternut squash, I use them to make soup, appetizers, great pairing with entrees as side as well. A universal food that is both versatile and popular.

What’s on your radio/iPod when you’re prepping in the kitchen?

I listen to Hindi and Nepali songs on my iPod, I am inspired by my culture.

What would you be if you weren’t a chef?

I would be a jeweler in my family’s store in Nepal. My family has long been associated with this creative industry. I look at my current work as a way to use color, texture, and taste to create a visual the way my heritage uses color, clarity, and material to create fine jewelry.  Food must appeal visually and aromatically before taste. Jewelry is more visual.

Chef Mandeep Shankar, along with sommelier Mark Fine, is presenting the “Germany vs. Argentina: Rematch” seminar at the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival, from 5 to 6 pm on Friday, October 17, at the Grand Tent on Mayhew Lane in Edgartown. $50. Tickets at mvfoodandwine.com.

Chris Coombs HeadshotChristopher Coombs

The young and talented Christopher Coombs pursued an education at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York, and he got his first taste of upscale dining while working at Blue Ginger under award-winning chef Ming Tsai upon graduation. Soon after, he headed to Nantucket where he impressed executive chef Patrick O’Connell, who took Coombs under his wing and put him to work at The Inn at Little Washington, Virginia, where he prepared special dinners at The White House and for Le Club des Chefs de Chef.

Coombs returned to Boston in 2005, and with Brian Piccini, started Boston Urban Hospitality Inc. In 2010, they opened their first restaurant, Deuxave, in Boston’s Back Bay. In early 2013, Coombs opened Boston Chops in Boston’s South End. Coombs has appeared on Food Network’s “Chopped,” and he has been recognized by Forbes magazine for their 30 Under 30 Awards. Most recently, his recipe for ribeye steaks appeared on the cover of Food & Wine magazine, and Boston Chops was included in America’s Best New Steak House recipes.

How and when did you start cooking?

I started getting interested in cooking as a teen at a place called Ocean Delight on

the North Shore. I began as a dishwasher and worked my way up to helping the

cooks. I also really embraced all cooking classes that my high school offered,

including Home Economics. I used to go home and practice cooking, especially the

baking recipes, like popovers and cakes.

Have you ever had a major cooking disaster?

Well, I had a major disaster with a cooking tool that had a lasting effect. While in

culinary school, I once tried to open a beer bottle with my chef’s knife and it slipped.

I needed 56 stitches. It was horrible.

Is there a dish or meal you prepared that was part of a very special occasion?

One of the most memorable occasions that I had the privilege to be part of is when

the Inn at Little Washington chef Patrick O’Connell cooked at the White House for

First Lady Laura Bush. He created a menu that I helped prepare called “Shock and


Favorite dish on any of your current menus?

My favorite dish on the current Deuxave menu is the roasted duck for two. It is

beautiful dish and we see a lot of couples share it. I like watching people fall in love

while eating food that I created. It makes me feel good.

What do you cook for a romantic evening with your wife?

My wife is from Russia so I try to make her foods that remind her of home. She loves

blinis and caviar with a little crème fraiche. We also enjoy smoked salmon and a nice

bottle of wine on our nights together.

What are your top five indispensable ingredients?

My top five indispensable ingredients are lemon juice, garlic, salt, butter, and sherry


Your favorite kitchen tool?

I love my Vita Prep Blender. It gets used a lot in my kitchen.

If it could be anywhere in the world, where would you open your second restaurant?

Well, this is a loaded question. I love my home and I love my city, so I am going to

stick to opening in Boston.

What’s the best single bite you ate in the last week?

The best single bite that I ate last week was at the newly opened Bar Boulud inside of

the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. It was a perfect Boudin Blanc. I am still

dreaming of it.

What is currently your favorite ingredient of the fall season?

I love local, wild mushrooms. I forage mushrooms as a hobby and I love this

season’s varietals. I am partial to the Hen of the Woods. They are my favorite.

What’s on your radio/iPod when you’re prepping in the kitchen?

During prep, my kitchen team and I get pumped up listening to rap. We especially

like Kendrick Lamar and the Notorious B.I.G.

What would you be if you weren’t a chef?

If I weren’t a chef, I would probably be in finance doing something. Cooking is so

much more creative, though.

Chef Coombs is presenting the seminar “Raising the Steaks” at the Winnetu Resort from 11 am to 12pm on Saturday, October 18. $50. Tickets at mvfoodandwine.com.

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Police displayed 13.5 grams of cocaine concealed in a coffee bag, cash, and a phone they said was seized in a drug arrest.

Police arrested David Chagas, 30, who lists addresses in both Fairhaven and Vineyard Haven, on a charge of dealing cocaine, shortly after he arrived on the Island by ferry Monday morning.

A month long investigation by members of the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force revealed Mr. Chagas has been transporting cocaine to Martha’s Vineyard and distributing the illegal drug, according to a statement released by Oak Bluffs police. During the investigation, police learned his right to drive was suspended in an unrelated case.

Officers observed Mr. Chagas drive off a Steamship Authority ferry in Vineyard Haven at 11:30 am, and stopped his vehicle a short distance away.

“Chagas was placed under arrest on Franklin Street in Tisbury for operating a motor vehicle after suspension,” according to the statement. “Upon searching the vehicle Chagas was operating, which was a 2003 Chevy Silverado registered to Luis Lopes of Vineyard Haven, officers located a ‘Café Bustelo’ coffee grinds bag that was wrapped in duct tape. A subsequent search of the coffee grinds bag revealed 3 individual plastic bags that were wrapped inside a single plastic bag. The 3 individual plastic bags contained a white powdery substance that was consistent with cocaine.”

During booking at the Dukes County Jail, officers found an additional plastic bag they suspect to be cocaine, according to police.

Police say they seized a total of 13.5 grams of cocaine, with a street value of approximately $1,350.

Mr. Chagas is scheduled for arraignment on October 17 in Edgartown District Court.

Linda Thompson and Monica Miller sample chocolate honey and chocolate scented cream. from Ms. Miller's company, Martha's Vineyard Honey. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

Chocolate, the subject of countless coffee mug and refrigerator magnet quotes, was the focus of Featherstone Center for the Arts last weekend. The 11th annual Art of Chocolate Festival brought chocoholics from all over to make the pilgrimage to the shrine of the cocoa bean.

Billie Jean Sullivan and Tom Lankiewicz toast chocolate martinis over their giant "Box of Chocolates." —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop
Billie Jean Sullivan and Tom Lankiewicz toast chocolate martinis over their giant “Box of Chocolates.” —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

Every October, Featherstone puts out a call to bakers and chocolatiers — amateur and professional — to donate creations for what has to be the most fantastic assemblage of chocolate goodies outside of Willy Wonka’s workshop. On Friday, guests at the preview party were treated to an all-you-can-eat experience. On Saturday and Sunday, visitors had to be a little more prudent with their choices. For $5 folks could sample two items, for $10 they were allotted five selections from the dozens of choices.

And what a tough decision. There were voluptuous cakes from the Black Dog and the Cheesecake Factory, creamy mousse from the Slice of Life, decadent flourless cake bites from Lucky Hank’s, chewy macaroons from the Scottish Bakehouse, and chocolate chip studded pastries from Waterside Market and Orange Peel Bakery. Plus, every imaginable type of hand-dipped chocolate from local candy makers.

Many of Featherstone’s cadre of artists contributed to the bounty as well. Marston Clough once again donated his scrumptious chocolate truffles. Karen Hough created a wonderfully light, not overwhelmingly chocolate, flourless cake with almonds. Nancy Blank offered her popular peanut butter buckeyes and Pam Flamm baked up two gluten-free offerings: brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Adding something new to the mix for the preview party this year, the Featherstone staff set up stations where patrons could create works of art inspired, of course, by chocolate.

Marilyn and Denys Wortman with a silkscreen print. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop
Marilyn and Denys Wortman with a silkscreen print. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

“We call it the Art of Chocolate Festival,” Featherstone director Ann Smith said at the introduction to the preview party. “But we’ve never had guests participate in art before. We want you to experience chocolate with all of the senses,”  And, although some stuck to the taste bud experience, washing the goodies down with chocolate martinis and assorted cordials, many of the guests indulged their creative, as well as epicurean passions, by trying their hand at the arts and crafts projects.

Veronica Modini manned a screen-printing table where guests could make their own chocolate festival memento poster. Emmy Brown helped people make monoprints in chocolatey colors. Minor Knight encouraged guests to get creative using an array of sheet cakes as canvas and fun toppings as decorations. With the help of visitors, Billie Sullivan created two fun graphic style paintings of an oversized box of chocolates and a giant cake.

Monica Miller set up a table where guests could sample two of her Skye botanicals chocolate-based scents and a specialty product from Martha’s Vineyard Honey created by feeding bees concentrated cocoa extract.

Saturday’s rain drove visitors in hordes to the festival. “It was wall to wall people at one point,” Ms. Smith said. The samplers included lots of kids who invariably left with happy, chocolate-smeared faces.

A chocolate "Mona Lisa" from Cakes by Liz. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop
A chocolate “Mona Lisa” from Cakes by Liz. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

The Saturday and Sunday selection was augmented with a few extra items including two of the most popular — a chocolate dipping fountain and a sundae station featuring hot fudge sauce (a festival exclusive) from Chilmark Chocolates. There were also a few items where chocolate and art collided. Two enormous Cakes by Liz “Jackson Pollack” cakes with colorful splatters of frosting were quickly devoured, as was a giant brownie decorated with a rendering of the Mona Lisa. The most photographed goodie, according to Ms. Smith, was the chocolate covered sushi, made entirely of sweets and complete with frosting wasabi and espresso dipping sauce.

The Featherstone staff will get a week off to recover from chocolate overload before the gallery reopens next Sunday with another food-inspired show. Eat Your Art Out will feature works in many media focusing on food. But this time around, none of it will be edible.

For more information, visit featherstoneart.org.