Maureen’s Kitchen is Bringing Country Flair, Quality Eats, and Good Care to the Long Island Community

Front Entrance of Maureen’s Kitchen right before closing for the end of the day. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Smithtown, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Long Island’s breakfast mecca Maureen’s Kitchen isn’t your average restaurant. Known for it’s old fashioned, homestyle cooking and cow-theme decor, Maureen’s Kitchen has long been a local favorite for tasty morning meals.

Located in Smithtown, New York, Maureen’s Kitchen was founded by Maureen Dernbach in 1984. The restaurant’s first location was initially found by “accident” when Dernbach was driving on New York State route 347. Making the wrong turn led her to Terry Road, where her restaurant Maureen’s Kitchen was born. Starting as a small shack on the side of the road, Dernbach catered to local blue-collar workers by giving them a decent meal at a low price.

A regular customer sitting at the breakfast bar waiting on his cup of coffee while reading the daily newspaper. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Smithtown, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

As it gained popularity, in 1997 the restaurant relocated across the street to a custom built two-story country house in order to accommodate the large crowds that it had attracted.

Maureen Dernbach later retired and passed down the business to her two children, Kevin Dernbach and Christine Fortier, who are also chefs at the restaurant.

Maureen Dernbach also passed down old family recipes to Kevin Dernbach and Christine Fortier. They kept true to the original recipes while taking them to the next level.

“The unique part about Maureen’s Kitchen is the creativity in our food, it just speaks for itself,” said Kevin Dernbach, chef and co-owner. “We come up with all of our original concept of dishes from our baked oatmeals, to all of our daily specials, to putting a little twist to pancakes and omelets, etc.”

Cow statues displayed in the waiting area at Maureen’s Kitchen. The majority of the cow statues are donated to the restaurant from customers. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Smithtown, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Besides Maureen’s Kitchen’s emphasis on it’s delicious and unique dishes, building relationships with it’s customers and the local community is something the restaurant takes pride in.

“We were brought up on the premise of how you treat the community is a direct reflection on our restaurant. Just do right by people and they do right by you. We love what we do, and I think that’s also part of it,” said Dernbach. “Even when people are sometimes difficult our goal is turn their day around for them. Our customers are like our family.”

From the beginning, Maureen’s Kitchen has always been looking to take care of the working class community by always making sure it’s customers enjoy quality food, large portions, and good care for a low price.

Customers enjoying the delicious and unique meals that Maureen’s Kitchen has to offer. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Smithtown, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“My mom always really wanted to take care of the common man, like the guy working hard to provide for his family. She always made sure that they were taken care of with good quality food and good portions at a fair price,” said Dernbach. “To this day, this is what we strive to do when serving our customers. Quality is something we never compromised in business.”

Maureen’s Kitchen was featured on the Cooking Channel’s show Unique Eats. To watch, click here.

Maureen’s Kitchen was also listed on list of “The 12 Places You Should Eat In New York in 2017” and “These 11 Amazing Breakfast Spots In New York Will Make Your Morning Just Right.”

If you’re looking for authentic homestyle cooking, Maureen’s Kitchen is the place you will definitely want to visit.

To find out more information on Maureen’s Kitchen, click here.

Address: 108 Terry Road Smithtown, NY 11787


A Single Mother’s Story of Raising a Child with Autism

Christine Corrigan, ER Nurse and single mother has faced many challenges raising 6-year-old daughter Alanna, and 14-year-old son Conor who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Corrigan’s son Conor was diagnosed with low functioning autism when he was three years old, which had changed Corrigan’s life forever.

(From left to right) Christine Corrigan, daughter Alanna, and son Conor enjoying the board game Candy Land on game night. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“I thought my life was going one way and then it took a curve ball the other way,” said Corrigan. “The impact from this was how am I going to let this affect my life. I am either going to take it positively or try to make it the best for him or be negative about everything. Which at one point, I think you are because the initial response is you’re upset and angry, wondering if it’s my fault and why this is happening. But, the other part of all of this is how do I make this better and will my kid be the one who’s cured or will my kid be the one who goes to a group home.”

Autism has had a rocky and complicated history since its discovery in the early 1900’s. The condition was first associated with symptoms of schizophrenia. It wasn’t until the 1960’s autism began to be associated with children who had various learning and behavioral disabilities that was considered entirely separate from schizophrenia. Little was known about autism up to a decade ago when Corrigan started conducting research on the condition.

“As nurse and health professional, I had heard of what autism was and knew one or two people with it but I didn’t really have any background to it at all. So it was kind of new for me,” said Corrigan. “I didn’t have a computer at the time because things weren’t like the way they are now, so I took out one of my old nursing text books and there under psychiatric disorders was autism and I didn’t really know what to make of it. There were only two paragraphs and that was it.”

Since Conor’s diagnoses, Corrigan has set out to find help and support systems in order to gain a better understanding of autism and to find the best course of treatment to combat the condition.

(From left to right) In-home aid Nick joining in on game night with Christine, Alanna, and Conor. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“There’s resources out there. There is so much out there and the state doesn’t want to tell you about it, the school districts don’t know much about it and you really have to do a lot of research on your own,” said Corrigan. “I get services for Conor through the state that has taken me a long time to get, but I was diligent with the paperwork and now that I‘ve gotten it it’s been life changing.”

Single parenting comes with its many trials and tribulations, especially when raising a child with autism. As for many parents of teenagers they deal with what comes with every teenage growth and developmental stage, one being puberty. For Corrigan, this has been one of the toughest challenges but through the services, Conor has been able to be a normal teenage boy.

“He can be a teenager who goes out in the community and does things and like any teenager he does not want to be with mom and 6-year-old sister all the time. They don’t whether they’re autistic or not,” said Corrigan. “With the aids that come in, they are in their 20’s and they are more of a peer model than they are mom. Conor can have a friendship-like relationship and it’s so wonderful.”

Through modern medicine and research, many techniques, treatments, and therapies exist now that did not once before. They can help relieve the suffering of autism, offer a better quality of life, and bring a brighter future.

Conor having fun playing the board game Candy Land with family and in-home aid Nick. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Corrigan went on to give advice to other parents who are going through similar situations.

“Research. Research everything that is out there and there is so much out there. Best thing you can do is be educated. Read books, google it, go to self-help groups, go to parent-to-parent groups, find out everything,” said Corrigan. “You’re going to find out who your friends are. You will lose some because it’s not for everybody, but you are going to gain some of the best support systems through this experience.”

How Treme Is Bringing Jazz into Local Nightlife on Long Island

Long Island’s only Jazz bar Treme, located in Islip, NY is bring classic New Orleans flair and music to the forefront in local nightlife.

Front entrance to Treme just when it opened it’s doors for the night. Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Islip, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Opened three years ago, Treme has become a hot spot for Long Island locals who are looking to get away from the typical young crowd club scene. Named after the New Orleans district where jazz music originated, Treme’s live music and signature cocktails are what keep locals coming back.

“Treme, is essentially a music venue where we have signature cocktails, good food, and give a quality guest experience,” said Josh Thompson, owner of Treme. “Jazz is something I listen to when I want to relax and enjoy myself and not be stressed out about anything. There’s something soothing about jazz.”

Treme has helped some musicians who are looking to gain notoriety in the music industry by giving them opportunities to record in their

The Interplay Jazz Orchestra preforming their first song for the night at Treme. Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Islip, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“We’ve had musicians come down and do video parties so they can actually have a video reel and demo reel that they can pass off to the record companies they are looking to sign with,” said Thompson. “We are totally open into helping them to move their way as a career.”

The Interplay Jazz Orchestra has been one of Treme’s regular acts since its opening three years ago and has been playing here ever since.

“It’s really the only Jazz club on Long Island,” said Joe Devassy, trombone player for the music group The Interplay Jazz Orchestra. “It’s been great being able to interact with the audience. They check us out, buy our albums, and they come to our other gigs. Slowly, but surely, we are gaining a gathering and that’s been cool.”

Thompson discussed how he was fortunate enough to take over Treme from the former owners who had the inspiration to achieve the New Orleans jazz feel Treme is now known for.

Looking for a way to give Treme the ultimate experience, Thompson decided to incorporate a vast cocktail menu.

The Johnnie Black Berry, one of Treme’s signature cocktails. Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Islip, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“I felt it needed a little nudge in the right direction. Aside from live music, which is the heart and soul of this place, we started really incorporating some of the original cocktails that were invented in New Orleans,” said Thompson. “Things like a sazerac, which is also debated to be the first cocktail ever, is a New Orleans-based cocktail. With a little historical research, I was able to go through, find the cocktails, and really get that into what Treme is.”

Treme’s main mission is for the best guest quality experience, making it a point that no detail can go unnoticed or neglected.

“I always explain to my staff you have to put your heart into it, it really makes a world of a difference,” said Thompson. “You can make the same thing, but if you’re in a foul mood or miserable that’s going to pass through so you got to put your heart into everything.”

Sit Back, Enjoy a Brew, and Jam to John M. Restrepo Quartet & Open Jazz Jam at the Tap and Barrel

John M. Restrepo Quartet is brining back the Jazz music genre to Long Island through their weekly Jazz Jam event, which is open to all musicians, at the Tap and Barrel in Smithtown, NY.

John M. Restrepo Quartet performing live at the weekly Jazz Jam. Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Smithtown, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Since the open Jazz Jam debut a year and a half ago, it has created awareness for the Jazz group John M. Restrepo Quartet, the Tap and Barrel, and the classic genre of Jazz music. Hosted Tuesday nights, the Jazz Jam’s has attracted crowds from all over the Tri-State area for its laid back and fun atmosphere.

“The purpose of the Jazz Jam is just for people to come play, hangout, and listen to music,” said John Maurice Restrepo, host of the John M. Restrepo Quartet & Jazz Jam and lead saxophone player for John M. Restrepo Quartet. “I thought it would be a good opportunity for me and my band to play together every week, and it’s given us a little name recognition.”

The Open Jazz Jam has also given many young musicians an opportunity to play and practice in hopes that this event will help them as they pursue careers in the music industry.

“There have been a lot of musicians who come in and play who sound good and have gotten better over the weeks or the months they’ve been coming in,” said Restrepo. “A couple of the musicians that have come in are really young, going to college for music and this event has given them an opportunity to play and gain experience.”

Some of the members of the audience sitting at the bar enjoying cold cocktails and brews prior to John M. Restrepo Quartet’s first performance at the Tap and Barrel. Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Smithtown, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

The event has also drawn in crowds of non-musicians who are looking to enjoy one of the 54 craft beers the Tap and Barrel has to offer and jam to the music.

“The audience has been building since we started the Jazz Jam and maintaining it,” said Restrepo. “There several people I have met over the course of the last of a year and a half that have been here 80 percent, 70 percent of the time, some 90, some 50. But a lot of people do come back and request tunes.”

First opened in six years ago, the Tap and Barrel was created for locals to come and enjoy a different kind of atmosphere than the typical sports bars and Irish pubs on Long Island and since it’s opening, it has now established itself as a craft beer destination.

Front entrance to the Tap and Barrel just before the start of the open Jazz Jam. Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Smithtown, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“There isn’t anything else like the Jazz Jam on Long Island, and I really liked the bar, I enjoyed the ambiance of Tap and Barrel, I liked the selection of beers, ” said Restrepo. “ It’s probably the best tap beer bar on Long Island.”

For more information, visit the Tap and Barrel’s website and John M. Restrepo Quartet and Open Jazz Jam Facebook page.

Vajiradhammapadip Temple: New York’s Hub for Thai Culture and Religion

The Theravada Buddhist Temple Vajiradhammapadip has become both New York and the United States’ main center for Thai religion and culture. It has brought both Thai peoples and others of different faiths and nationalities to celebrate Thailand’s vast culture together.

Pharamaha Suwannarat Saensupa, Buddhist monk at The Vajiradhammapadip Temple sweeping pavement of the front entrance of Vajiradhammapadip Temple as part of daily mid afternoon routine for Buddhist monks at Vajiradhammapadip Temple Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY (Photo by Victoria Lore/Full Sail University)

Originally located in the West Bronx, New York, Vajiradhammapadip Temple had relocated to both Mount Vernon and Centereach, New York do to the growth of temple members.

Since it’s large growth and relocations, Vajiradhammapadip Temple has shared its religious services, courses in Thai and Pali languages, Thai music, and overall culture with the Long Island and the Tri-State area community.

Phra Kittiyanides, Abbot monk and President of Vajiradhammapadip Temple walking inside the temple practicing Zen meditation in order to achieve complete awareness with ones surroundings Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore/Full Sail University)

“It is an honor to share our faith and traditions with those who may not be familiar with our religion and culture,” said Phramaha Suwannarat Saensupa, monk at Vajiradhammapadip Temple in Centereach. “We are able to keep the Thai religion and traditions alive through our courses, events, and activities that are offered to the community.”

Vajiradhammapadip Temple offers Buddhist Sunday School classes, which is its main activity in the temple, along with lessons in the Thai language, morals, and general social studies. For young students, special lessons are offered in painting, Thai dance, and Thai swordplay, which are taught by both monk-residents and volunteers. Lessons in the Pali and Thai languages, Southeast Asian and Thai studies, and Thai literature are also offered for English-speaking students. Meditation training is given as well depending on if there is a meditation-master monk currently in residence at the temple or if a visiting monk is invited by the temple to hold sessions.

Phra Kittiyanides, Abbot monk and President of Vajiradhammapadip Temple practicing deep meditation to alter of Buddha in order to reach spiritual freedom and enlightenment Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore/Full Sail University)

Saensupa discussed how Vajiradhammapadip Temple has kept the Thai population on Long Island together.

“Many of the Thai people who come here feel that they are back at home in Thailand. They are able to speak their native language and interact with monks, family, and friends to celebrate the Thai culture together that they know and are proud,” said Saensupa. “This is what draws Thai immigrants to congregate here.”

Saensupa started his journey as a Buddhist monk back in his native country of Thailand as a novice in order to become closer to his religion and to receive a better education.

“I was raised to be a divot Buddhist as a child, I was one out of four children, and my parents wanted me to receive a good education which lead me to become a Buddhist monk.”

Phramaha Suwannarat Saensupa, Buddhist monk at Vajiradhammapadip Temple sweeping the steps to the entrance of Vajiradhammapadip Temple as part of daily mid afternoon routine for Buddhist monks at Vajiradhammapadip Temple Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore/Full Sail University

As a monk in Thailand, Saensupa was recruited to come to the United States in 2007 by Phra Kittiyanides, the Abbot and President of Vajiradhammapadip Temple in Centereach. When the temple first opened, Saensupa helped the start of the temple by contributing and writing in Vajiradhammapadip Temple’s magazine and their newsletters.

“I enjoy being a monk. It keeps my roots strong and in touch with my culture,” said Saensupa. “It’s rewarding to practice Buddhism with other Buddhist and share our beliefs and traditions with others of different cultures and backgrounds. Vajiradhammapadip Temple is always open to all people.”

Phramaha Suwannarat Saensupa, Buddhist monk at Vajiradhammapadip Temple preparing to head inside the temple for the late afternoon and second meditation session of the day as part of routine for Buddhist monks at Vajiradhammapadip Temple Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore/Full Sail University)


The Feast of San Gennaro: Celebrating Both Italian American Culture and Small Business.

This year marks the 90th annual tradition of the Feast of San Gennaro in Manhattan’s Little Italy. This feast has had a long history in the Citythumbnail_img_0198 of New York and with Italian Americans for many decades. Since 1926, the feast celebrates the Patron Saint of Naples along with other historic Italian traditions. It has brought all peoples of different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnic groups together.

Not only has the feast kept the spirit, culture, and heritage alive of the Italian immigrants who have brought these traditions to the United States, but has also given the opportunity for local businesses to promote and create brand awareness.

The feast is known for its endless choices of Italian cuisine that is provided by many local Little Italy restaurants and businesses through food stands and other outdoor dining areas. This is often the main attraction for both locals and many tourists who come to experience one of New York City’s oldest traditions.

fullsizerenderEstablished in 1892, New York City’s famous Italian Bakery and America’s first espresso bar Ferrara is one of Little Italy’s and the Feast of San Gennaro’s most notable attractions.

“We are the fifth-generation owners of Ferrara, which is 124 years old, but has an even longer history,” said Adeline Lepore Sessa, owner of Ferrara. “The business was started by my great grandfather Enrico Scoppa and great-great uncle Antonio Ferrara. They came from Italy, and Ferrara was the place where their countrymen could come, meet, and socialize with other Italians in the community. Our bakery to these immigrants represented a place out of Italy.”

Ferrara is one of the oldest businesses that have been participating in the Feast of San Gennaro since it’s start in 1926. After all these years, the feast has brought popularity to many of these businesses including Ferrara.

“Many of the local businesses such as Ferrara and Umberto’s Clam House have been my family and I’s favorite spots to hit both during the feast and all year round,” said Lucille Pinnisi Lore, a local New Yorker, Italian American, and yearly attendee of the feast. “Throughout the years I have seen what are small shops grow into hugely popular spots for Italian delicacies and cuisines because of the Feast of San Gennaro.”

The Feast of San Gennaro’s notoriety has created a way for many local businesses to promote themselves to the millions of people who flock to New York City’s Little Italy for this occasion.

thumbnail_img_0253“The San Gennaro Feast definitely drags them to this area and it brings in a lot of tourists that don’t already know about Ferrara. But, I think Ferrara definitely has a brand of it’s own,” said Anthony Sessa, son of Adeline Lepore Sessa. “Once people come here, through something like the feast they see what we’re about and how we still have that old-world feel when you come inside. I think people are really drawn to it.”

Little Italy is a major tourist attraction. Making it’s location a major factor that many local businesses that partake in the Feast of San Gennaro thrive on. Little Italy, located in Manhattan, NY is rich in history. During the late 1800’s, many Italians suffered from unemployment and poverty in their native country forcing them to relocate to the United States in hopes of starting a better life. This immigration would later cause the massive Italian influence of culture, traditions and cuisine. Mulberry Street, located in New York City’s Lower East Side is as well rich in history. Once dominated by Italian immigrants in the 1890’s, Mulberry Street is the prime location for the Feast to take place. It is also known for its vast selections of restaurants making it the height of tourist attraction in Little Italy.

“Being located in Little Italy has definitely helped the success for our business. Ferrara’s building itself is landmarked,” said Sessa. “I have noticed that Little Italy is slowly dwindling down. Grand Street where we are located was once all Italian businesses and now it’s only a few Italian businesses on our block now.”

Despite this fact, the buildings that still have Italian roots are what keep both locals and tourist coming back to Manhattan’s historic lower East Side.

Grand Strthumbnail_fullsizerender-3eet has four or five old businesses that are at least 100-years-old and most of them are family owned,” said Lepore Sessa. “So there’s a culture and history in that alone.”

Lepore Sessa went on to further discuss how one of New York City’s oldest festivals has played a special role for both Italian Americans and other cultures in the community.

“The feast has kept the Italian tradition alive. Back in the day only Italians would come to the Feast of San Gennaro, now all different cultures come here to celebrate with us. It makes our culture solid and lets other cultures know and experience the Italian traditions that are important to us.”

Pinnisi Lore discussed how she felt honored to share one of her culture’s pastimes with others from different communities and backgrounds.

“I am extremely proud to be an Italian American. Through the Feast of San Gennaro myself, my family, and many other Italian Americans are able to celebrate our culture and share it with all different walks of life from all over the world.”

“It’s all made possible through the hard work and dedication of these businesses. There’s a magic about it and there isn’t anything quite like it,” said Pinnisi Lore.