Nicole Formisano


BakedwithGrace Goes From Online Cookie Pie Sales to Babylon Storefront

Courtesy BakedwithGrace via Facebook.

Do you prefer ooey-gooey cookies, or a warm slice of pie? Well, all you sweet-tooths out there no longer have to choose, thanks to the cookie-pie business taking Long Island by storm: BakedwithGrace.

Some of us spent quarantine learning a new hobby, while others spent it in one long existential crisis. But that simply wasn’t enough for then-20-year-old Grace Reilly, who was looking for something a little sweeter.

“I’m the type of person that just always needs to be doing something. I got bored of
Netflix!” Reilly, 21, says.

Courtesy BakedwithGrace via Facebook.

As a college student, Reilly makes most of her money babysitting — not the most in-demand profession during the months most people were staying home. So she started brainstorming for alternatives.

“I always made cookies with the boys I babysit … and they would ask for different fillings,” Reilly says. “They would ask for mint oreos, another week marshmallows. All different stuff we would put in it. And chocolate chip cookies — warm, gooey — is my favorite dessert. So that’s kind of how I got the idea.”

Thus, BakedwithGrace was born. It was a modest endeavor at first — until the Internet got involved. 

In August 2020, Dave Portnoy, best known as the founder of Barstool Sports, a pop culture and sports blog that has an unrivaled grip on college-aged Internet audiences, featured BakedwithGrace in his well-known “Barstool Review” series in which he eats and judges food from various restaurants. After that, there was no turning back — these cookie-pies were in demand

Despite a booming business that would suggest a natural chef, Reilly hadn’t had much prior experience with baking. She mostly relied on store-bought cookie dough, but always with a twist — delicious fillings that people clearly can’t get enough of.

“I just wanted to make some money and I love desserts, so I figured why not try and start selling them?” Reilly says. “I never imagined it to be this big. I thought I was just going to be making them out of my house and doing pick-ups.

“I had never planned to start baking from scratch,” she says. “This is kind of a freak thing.”

Courtesy BakedwithGrace via Facebook.

Unable to keep up with the cookie-pie requests from her home, Reilly started working from a shared professional kitchen space. But she quickly outgrew that, too, and now has her own storefront in Babylon that just celebrated its grand opening on July 17.

“I’m not stopping at one store,” Reilly says. I’m even talking to distributors to get them into more grocery stores. It’s already in Uncle Giuseppe’s and a bunch of other markets across Long Island.”

You can also find BakedwithGrace at Fat Boys Burrito Co. in Bellmore, Coliseum Kitchen in Plainview, Gabby’s Gourmet Deli in Woodbury, and many other locations. 

So all you cookie fanatics and all around dessert-lovers, clear your afternoon schedule — there are cookie-pies with your name on them! For more information, check out the BakedwithGrace website.

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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Long Islanders Continue Education to Make Post Pandemic Career Changes

continuing education
Many people went into healthcare after Covid-19 hit. (Getty Images)

The coronavirus forced many workers to change careers or learn new skills, often with the help of local continuing education programs.

Many colleges are seeing this shift in attitude reflected in their enrollment numbers. Some have noticed a particular uptick in service-oriented educational programs such as healthcare. Because these areas were hit so hard by the pandemic, one might expect their popularity to fall in response. Instead, people are flocking to enroll in these programs more than ever.

“Any time there’s a life-changing situation, people tend to re-evaluate their goals,” says Marguerite Lane, assistant vice president of enrollment management for Molloy College. “We saw that in the 2008 recession, and to a greater extent now with the pandemic. People are now taking the time to pursue their passions. People want to make a difference, instead of just having a job.” 

Such is the case with Brahashitha Gupta, director of the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility Indian / Asian Unit in Uniondale. She used quarantine as an opportunity for reflection, and in that reflection, found purpose.

“[Covid] gave me a lot of time to think and reassess,” she says. “At the end of the day, you need to make sure you are fulfilling something that gives you happiness.” 

For Gupta, happiness involves a life of service.

“Senior citizens are such a vulnerable population,” she says. “They are left out. I wanted to do something more for them. That’s why I pursued this Community Health Worker program [at Nassau Community College].”

Community health workers serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community.

Even though some consider a remote learning format to be an obstacle, Gupta explains that it can actually be much more compatible with their already busy adult lives.

“You have more time, save money on gas, there’s less hustle-bustle energy where you’re always on the go,” she says of online schooling. “If the remote learning option wasn’t available, I wouldn’t have even chosen to go back and study. It gave me more time with my family, and of course the cooking and cleaning. At the end of the day, I had more time on my hands.”

Covid-19 brought terrible losses. However, it also brought us this novel opportunity to reevaluate ourselves and our situations. In the months of quietude in 2020, people were forced to reckon with their goals and desires. For many, this started a road of self-improvement, the destination of which was often education.

As Lane said, “Education is never just about doing better in your career or making more money. Education is always about learning and growing as a person. And I think that when people self-reflect and want to do something for themselves, they take the opportunity in education.”

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Chef Anthony Falco to Host Pizza Pop-Up at Sansone Market in Garden City

If there’s anything Long Islanders appreciate, it’s a great slice of pizza — especially if it’s free.

Sansone Market in Garden City is hosting an all-day pizza pop-up on July 11 featuring international pizza consultant Anthony Falco, who has just published his first book, Pizza Czar: Recipes and Know-How from a World-Traveling Pizza Chef. He will be signing copies and giving away free slices on a first-come, first-serve basis from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sansone Market, a beloved Garden City staple, has been providing the community with quality Italian goods for nearly 40 years.

“We’re not the biggest store, but if you come into the store, you can find a whole mix of products so you can go home and create something very special,” says owner Leonardo Mastrantoni.

Anthony Falco, who had his start at Roberta’s in Brooklyn, has been around the world both teaching and learning everything there is to know about pizza. He has finally published his first recipe book for home chefs, which includes tips, tricks, and recipes for any home chef or pizza enthusiast. In order to share his knowledge, he’s teamed up with the perfect location.

“Sansone Market is a destination for all pizza enthusiasts, pizza aficionados, and pizza amateurs,” Mastrantoni says, “anyone that has a pizzeria, a backyard pizza oven, or anybody who just loves pizza. We like to support people who have the same passion we have.”

Anthony Falco. (Photo by Evan Sung & Molly Tavoletti)

He explains that the shop’s customer base makes it the perfect place for this pizza pop-up. As a small community store, Sansone Market has made high-quality Italian goods accessible to people of any experience level — whether they are professional pizza chefs or amateur home cooks. Regardless of their background, they will also benefit from Falco’s tips and tricks for top-tier pizza.

“Pizza is like an artform,” Mastrantoni says. “You’re expressing yourself through food.”

If you’re interested in stepping up your pizza game, make sure you don’t miss out on this delicious event!

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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State Senator Calls on NY AG to Investigate Handling of Gilgo Beach Murder Investigation

gilgo beach
State Sen. Phil Boyle holds news conference at Oak Beach. (Photo by Nicole Formisano)

New York State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) called Monday for State Attorney General Letitia James to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether disgraced former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke actively thwarted the unsolved Gilgo Beach serial murder case.

Boyle also sent a letter to the police department, from which he demanded answers on how many people have been interviewed and how many forensic tests were performed during Burke’s time in charge, and whether Burke—who’s checkered past has raised questions about his motives for kicking the FBI off the case—has been cleared as a possible suspect. And the senator sent a third letter to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who had appointed Burke to police chief.

“Never had a case cried out more for an investigation of the investigation,” Boyle told reporters during a news conference in Oak Beach. “There are far too many conflicts and questions that are still in place 10 years later and people…need to know that everything that could have been done, was done to try and get justice for these victims and their families.”

Between 2010 and 2011, police found 10 sets of human remains along Ocean Parkway between December of 2010 and April of 2011 while searching for Shannan Gilbert, a New Jersey woman who was reported missing from Oak Beach, where she was later found dead. The victims were mostly sex workers, although four remain unidentified. They are thought to have been killed over a period of nearly 20 years. 

Burke’s successor, Chief Stuart Cameron, who’s also the acting police commissioner, responded to Boyle’s letter in a statement, saying the investigation is a department priority, but members of the department could not comment on suspects in ongoing criminal investigations.

“The department has detectives who are solely dedicated to this investigation and our department is working closely with both the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and with the FBI,” the statement said. 

A spokesperson for Bellone noted that the county executive’s office had not yet actually received any correspondence from Boyle. 

“This remains an ongoing criminal investigation of the highest priority,” the spokesperson said. “We’re not going to respond to what is nothing more than a political charade.”

Boyle said what sparked his letters was Bellone saying he believed Burke was a sociopath but didn’t fire him when he came to that conclusion. Bellone made those comments to Unraveled, a podcast co-hosted by Billy Jensen, an investigative journalist who helped relaunch the Long Island Press in 2003. 

Before being appointed chief, Burke’s misconduct included alleged drug use, drunken driving, and having sex with a sex worker in his police car while uniformed. Burke resigned after being indicted for and later pleading guilty to beating a handcuffed suspect who stole the chief’s bag of porn, sex toys, and other items from his SUV. Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, Burke’s mentor, was convicted of helping cover up the beating.

Boyle also noted the fact that a sex worker named LeAnne told reporters that she had relations with Burke during a drug-fueled party at a house in Oak Beach shortly before he became chief. The senator said that Burke’s past and kicking the FBI off the case warrants probing whether the ex-chief might be directly or indirectly involved in the case.

During the news conference, a reporter asked Boyle to respond to Burke’s attorney calling the news conference a political stunt. Boyle laughed in response and said he didn’t need to respond to Burke.

A representative for the attorney general said that in order for her office to launch an investigation, she would need a referral from the offices of either Bellone or Spota’s successor, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini. Neither Bellone nor Sini’s office answered questions on whether they would issue such a referral.

Ray Tierney, a Republican challenging Sini for district attorney, later joined Boyle in calling for the attorney general to investigate.

“We need a special prosecutor that is willing to take a proactive approach to these cases and find out who is responsible,” Tierney said. “It is clear there is very little confidence in the county executive, the police department’s and district attorney’s leadership in apprehending and prosecuting the perpetrator of these heinous crimes.”

Additional Reporting by Tim Bolger and Briana Bonfiglio.

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Jones Beach Theater to Reopen With Luke Bryan, 3 Doors Down, And More

jones beach theater
View of a concert at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh (Photo: Jones Beach Facebook, @JonesBeachNewYork)

Every Long Islander knows that summer doesn’t really kick off until Jones Beach Theater starts hosting concerts. Luckily, the scenic venue on the shore is making up for a year-long wait by providing us with some truly awesome performances. Here is our guide to the most exciting events at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater this season!

Check out the Jones Beach website for updated ticket information and Covid-19 protocols.

Fireworks Spectacular

Celebrate the Fourth of July with a fantastic waterfront view of the fireworks show of the year! Free. 9:30 p.m. July 4.

Lady A / Carly Pierce / Niko Moon / Tenille Arts

Kick off the season with Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum) on their “What A Song Can Do” tour. $73-$458. 7 p.m. July 30.

James Aldean

This country singer’s “We Back In The Saddle” tour will feature special guests Hardy and Lainey Wilson. $90-$805. 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7.

Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band

Enjoy the quintessential summer vibes of Jimmy Buffet — and of course, a margarita or two! $90-$1,000. 8 p.m. Aug. 10.

Hall & Oates / KT Tunstall & Squeeze

Daryl Hall and John Oates are joined by Scottish alternative rock singer KT Tunstall. $90-$1,051. 7 p.m. Aug. 11.

Luke Bryan

Proud To Be Right Here tour with fellow country artists Dylan Scott & Caylee Hammack. $77-$999. 7 p.m. Aug. 13.

Luke Bryan performs during the iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Korn & Staind

Join these legendary artists for a night of rock & roll! $55-$807. 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17.

3 Doors Down

Rock out at “The Better Life” 20th Anniversary tour, where 3 Doors Down will be joined by South African rock band Seether. $58-$1,085. 8 p.m. Aug. 19.

Kings of Leon / Cold War Kids

Kings of Leon’s “When You See Yourself” tour will feature opening indie rock band Cold War Kids. $77-$807. 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25.

Thomas Rhett / Cole Swindell

Attention all country fans! Join Thomas Rhett as he visits for his “Center Road Point” tour. $79-$850. 6 p.m. Aug. 26.

James Taylor & Jackson Browne

Listen to these famed rock artists perform songs from The Great American Standard Songbook. $112-$5,050. 7:30 p.m. Aug. 27.

Alanis Morisette / Garbage / Liz Phair

The queen of alt-rock is coming to LI! Catch the 25th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill tour along with rock band Garbage and singer-songwriter Liz Phair. $121-$1,350. 7 p.m. Aug. 29.

Zac Brown Band

Don’t call it a comeback! Check out Zac Brown Band’s “Comeback Tour 2021” for a memorable night of country rock. $76-$2,222. 7 p.m. Sept. 2, 3.

Megadeth / Lamb of God

Join these heavy metal bands, as well as guest bands Trivium and In Flames, on tour! $52-$4,040. 6 p.m. Sept. 12.

The Black Crowes

Southern rock fans, listen up! The Black Crowes’ “$hake Your Money Maker” tour is coming to Jones Beach! $57-$4,040. 8 p.m. Sept. 17.

Dave Matthews Band

Join this classic ‘90s rock band for their “Let’s Plant A Million Trees” tour. $136-$1,435. 8 p.m. Sept. 21.

For more guides about things to do on Long Island, visit longislandpress.com/category/everything-long-island.

For more entertainment coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/entertainment

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