Which came first, the cookie or the egg? During pandemic times, a lot of folks coped with the challenges of isolation by either welcoming new animals into their lives or baking up a storm. Alessandra Hagerty did both, and even managed to parlay a business out of her new hobbies. Last summer, Hagerty brought home eight chicks to raise for eggs. Right about then, she set out to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The one thing she knew for sure was that she would use the eggs plucked daily from the family’s backyard. From there, she experimented with a multitude of recipes, using various combinations, different brands of ingredients, modifying her methods as she went along (room-temperature versus cold butter, etc). Many trials later, she finally came up with the ultimate cookie, and the business Chappy Chips was born.
“I’ve always wanted to do something on my own,” says Hagerty, who has forged a successful career in ad sales ( she is the ad sales manager for the MVTimes company). “And I’ve always loved baking. Although there are many bakeries on the Island, there’s no actual cookie place.”
Chappy Chips cookies are large — about three inches across — and combine a soft, chewy center with a crispy exterior. Hagerty has found that it’s hard to please everyone, but so far she’s had very enthusiastic feedback, and has developed a repeat customer base.
The former summer kid has lived full-time in Edgartown with her husband James Hagerty, a Vineyard native, and their two kids since 2013. Having created her masterpiece, Hagerty has decided to focus solely on chocolate chip cookies. The only option customers have to consider is whether to have sea salt sprinkled on top.
Eventually, the self-taught baker plans to add more varieties, such as a gluten-free version, and one with nuts, although she intends to stick with what she’s spent almost a year developing — the perfect chocolate chip cookie. And why not? When you do something really well, you may as well specialize. Plus, as Hagerty notes, “I think everyone loves chocolate chip cookies. They’re a nostalgic, classic American dessert — something of a comfort food. I just want to keep the focus on this quality cookie.”
Right now, Chappy Chips are only available by advance order. Hagerty hand-delivers the cookies, fresh from the oven, on weekends. She also hopes to sell at events and pop-ups this summer, and eventually she plans to expand to a wholesale business so she can offer her treats at local outlets. Chappy Chips are available as a bag of six or a box of 12, as well as in custom orders of individually wrapped cookies for weddings and other events. To get order information, visit her website, chappychips.com, or follow along on Instagram @chappychips.
Suzy Zell, owner of Starling Studios, is fortunate in that she is able to indulge both of her passions with her two jobs. During the spring and summer months, Zell works as a gardener — designing, installing, and maintaining plots and landscaping for Vineyard clients. During the off-season, she spends her time weaving beautiful towels, napkins, rugs, scarves, table runners, and baby blankets, which she sells at the Vineyard Artisans Festival and, more recently, through her online store.
Zell finds some crossover between her two occupations in the way that both skill sets require an eye for color and texture, something she has always valued. Her woven designs feature a variety of color combinations from cool blues and whites, which she says are very popular on the Island, to warm, vibrant hues — her personal favorites.
Starling Studios’ designs benefit from a rustic simplicity, as well as a nice, slightly nubby, homespun feel. Unlike store-bought linens, the handwoven designs hold up and wash very well, according to Zell’s repeat customers. That’s very important to the designer, who says that she never buys paper towels, preferring the eco-friendly practice of reusing her sturdy towels for spills.
Zell uses a number of different traditional patterns in her weaving. The names are helpfully descriptive — Pinwheel, Ms and Os, Diamonds and Circles, Herringbone. One of the most popular of Zell’s designs, Cat Tracks and Snail Trails, adds a nice whimsical touch for animal lovers (the design could also be interpreted as a dog paw).
Starling designs are made using all-natural fibers, including cotton and linen blends, bamboo, Tencel (made from wood pulp), and hemp. All of the products are prewashed before hemming and finishing, to avoid shrinkage.
Zell studied botany in college before moving to the Island in 1979. For 27 years, she worked alongside Polly Hill, before the renowned horticulturalist’s property became a public arboretum. “I loved her dedication, her step-by-step process,” says Zell of her former employer. “Today people want instant gardens. With Polly, we started out from seeds or very small plants, and watched them grow. I like to think that I take a similar approach to my craft.”
Zell considered going to art school before she chose to study botany and propagation. She has always been an avid spinner and knitter, and at one point, a friend gave her a loom, which she said sat around unused for a long time until one long, unproductive winter, when she decided to give it a try, and got hooked on weaving.
Zell still loves to garden, but she finds the meditative aspect of weaving a nice counterpoint to her busy summer work. She named her business after her dog Starling, who, she says, “would be so patient and just watch me weave.”
As the name implies, Fantzye Bagels are pretty special. The Island-made sourdough bagels are produced by a natural fermentation process, as opposed to adding commercial yeast. Still, the flavor and texture are classic New York bagel. “They have just a bit of that sourdough flavor,” says owner Elana Carlson. “They’re really light and airy, with this beautiful tunneling throughout.”
What makes Fantzye Bagels extra-fancy are the spreads and sides that accompany them. The Fantzye Bagel kit includes a half-dozen bagels (four different varieties), a seasonal smoked fish salad, homemade schmear in a rotating variety of interesting flavors, and locally grown mixed pickled vegetables.
Carlson and her teammates, Gina Citarella and Nina Krane, started the business last year with a mission to create not only the freshest Island-made bagels, but also to provide customers with sides and spreads made from as many locally grown and sourced ingredients as possible.
Each week’s selection is based on what’s currently available. Locally caught fish varieties have included whitefish, bluefish, and bonito, all smoked on-Island by Nate Gould of M.V. Smokehouse. Fantzye uses the smoked fish to make salads — some dairy-based, with crȅme fraîche and Mermaid Farm yogurt, and others with olive oil, fresh herbs, and crunchy vegetables. Some of the past schmear varieties include beet and dill, roasted leek, and even a lacto-fermented chili pepper schmear. Kits also feature seasonal mixed pickled vegetables — anything from radishes and onions to turnips and beets.
“Every element of the bagel kits is thoughtfully considered,” says Carlson. “We want to offer the makings of a really delicious, fun, bright, and colorful sandwich.” Eye-catching platters, replete with fresh veggies, local eggs, and gravlax are also available for larger gatherings.
Carlson first came to the Vineyard from New York City in 2014. She spent three years working at Behind the Bookstore, serving as general manager, before embarking on a successful career in the restaurant business in Los Angeles.
A nod to Carlson’s grandmother, who spoke Yiddish, Fantzye is a variation of the word “fantazye” which, of course, means fancy. Carlson’s mother is from Brooklyn, and her father is from Long Island, so the Vineyard transplant knows from bagels. When Carlson returned to the Vineyard last year, she sorely missed the availability of handmade bagels, so she got together with Citarella and Krane, her co-workers at Seaweeds restaurant in Oak Bluffs, and embarked on a mission to bring fresh, Island-made bagels to the Vineyard, perfecting their recipe in the fall.
They went on to offer their unique bagel kits through pop-up events at various locations around the Island. Fantzye uses a deck oven, which Carlson calls the “ideal bagel vehicle.” The three-part process is complex and exacting, requiring fermentation, boiling, and then baking on presoaked, hand-cut cedar boards with burlap.
Carlson notes that there is currently a boom of artisan bagel makers across the country, which has really exploded on the West Coast in particular. As a matter of fact, an article in the New York Times this past March was titled “The Best Bagels Are in California (Sorry New York).” The story describes a handful of young bakers who have each attracted a loyal following at their respective bagel shops around the state. Carlson and team are already experiencing a similar dedicated clientele for their product, and they hope to expand the business.
Under the name Fantze Suppers, the three women also prepare and serve catered, seasonally inspired dinners paired with natural wines.
Tigerhawk Sandwich Co.
You may not think of the words “healthy” and “conscientiously sourced” when you picture fast food, but that’s exactly what Nathaniel Wade and Jimmy Alvarado have set out to provide with their new takeout-only restaurant, TigerHawk Sandwich Co. “Groovy fast food” is a term that Wade throws out when describing the fare that the two awardwinning veteran chefs will be offering visitors to their Circuit Ave. shop this summer. “Groovy fast food,” as he describes it, is “chef-driven, quality, really flavorful sandwiches and snacks.”
“We’ll be sourcing as locally as possible,” says Wade. “We’re going to make sure we’re conscious of everything we sell — how it’s raised, what type of practices a farm engages in, how far away it’s coming from.”
Wade knows a lot about the food business. The restaurant in Vermont that he co-owned with his brother-in-law was nominated for a number of awards from the James Beard Foundation, including Best Chef two years running. The restaurant Misery Loves Co, based in Winooski, Vt., is still run by Wade’s sister and her husband.
His partner, Peruvian-born Jimmy Alvarado, is no less accomplished. He attended the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) before moving to the Vineyard in 2011. Here he has worked at Lambert’s Cove Inn, the Beach Plum Inn, the Harbor View Hotel, and Isola, where he served as executive chef.
In 2016, Alvarado won the grand prize in the M.V. Wild Food Challenge for his juniper-cured venison with foraged mushrooms, Russian olives, watercress, and wild edible flowers. His prize was a trip to Italy, where he got to experience truffle-hunting, among other food-related activities. It was the perfect reward for a seasoned traveler like Alvarado, who has spent time in Southeast Asia, Mexico, and elsewhere. “Most of the food I do comes from all of my travels, and also the influences from my childhood,” he says. “Traveling helped me develop my flavors, and find new techniques and a style of cooking that I’ll be bringing to the Vineyard. I love traveling and learning the cultures and foods from around the world, especially Southeast Asia. It’s very similar to the food in Peru, very spicy, southern, sweet, lots of textures.”
The co-owners will be experimenting with a wide range of options, from New Orleans–style po’boy sandwiches to banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich), fusions of Thai and Peruvian cuisine, various salads, and seviches. “We want to expand the restaurant scene on Circuit Ave.,” says Wade. “The one thing that’s lacking is that sort of locally sourced presence in a non-sit-down environment. We want to champion the whole food-truck vibe while working with locally sourced work within the confines of seasonality. We want to encourage people to grab something and walk over to Ocean Park [a few steps away from the restaurant] and have a picnic. Think of La Rambla in Barcelona, or Peruvian street food.”
In today’s climate, with people seeking healthy, sustainably sourced food while maintaining an on-the-go lifestyle, TigerHawk is bound to soar (and roar).
You’ve heard of the Nantucket “lightship” basket, a classic woven cane purse with a lid often adorned with a scrimshaw carving. Now the Vineyard has its own signature basket, thanks to artist M-C Lamarre. Last winter Lamarre started experimenting with constructing baskets out of rope, and eventually came up with a handful of designs. These include tabletop baskets in various sizes and shapes, larger catchalls for magazines, towels, etc., a coaster set, and even a couple of portable options in the form of two styles of tote bags.
For her line, BasketCase, Lamarre uses all American-made products (her rope comes from two small distributors), and with some products, she has made the effort to feature nautical touches, like handles attached with sailor’s knots and hardware that reflects the longstanding fishing and sailing traditions of the Vineyard. The baskets and totes have a fresh, clean, contemporary look, and simple lines that harken to Lamarre’s days as a ceramicist. She says that the sewing presented the biggest learning curve. She went through five sewing machines looking for an efficient way to stitch the rope together with nylon thread before settling on a commercial machine. Some of the pieces have hand-painted outlines of the Island. The large totes feature color-coordinated rope handles.
Any one of the BasketCase designs would make a great hostess or bridesmaid gift, a receptacle for a Vineyard-themed goodie basket, or simply a nice accent piece for an Island home (or home away from home).
The BasketCase line is available exclusively at the Night Heron Gallery in Vineyard Haven, or it can be ordered through Lamarre’s online store, basketcasemv.com.