My Bert Greene obsession continues. If you read one of my earlier blogs about Bert, you know I adore him and his recipes. His first cookbook from 1974 is “The Store Cookbook,” written with Denis Vaughn. The cookbook began as cocktail small talk on a summer afternoon in Long Island. Wouldn’t it be great to stay here all year round, someone said. Doing what? asked another. The conversation went on to suggest things like an antique store, a cheese shop, or a restaurant. Then someone said, just a place to buy whatever Bert and Denis are cooking that day. And so it began; The Store became an instant success.
On a sunny July Fourth weekend, the door opened. Instantly, the salads, hams, and roasts disappeared. Mousse, cake, and brownies vanished. Its fame grew year by year, and soon it was an institution, frequented by the rich and famous. Those who graced the establishment and devoured the food included Barbra Streisand, Dick Cavett, Princess Lee Radziwill, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, and Dustin Hoffman, to name a few. A writer from McCall’s magazine stated that ” Each dish is so lovingly prepared that the shock of paying the bill is painlessly absorbed by the sheer euphoria induced by eating this elegant food.”
One chapter is titled “The Mousse Trap” as every kind of mousse was offered, including lemon, chocolate, apricot, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, plum, peach, and fig. And, mind you, the mousse was not made in a food processor or mixer – Bert whipped cream and egg whites by hand! Bert believed in everything fresh, especially from the garden; in fact, he says it occurred to him that this collection of recipes might reasonably be subtitled “any and everything from the garden.” He went on to say that a great, dead chef once pronounced that the ultimate test of any cookery was the immediacy of the ingredients involved. Bert adds that great cooking certainly takes place where “the pickings are good!”
In this one book, you can make these and many other great dishes, and at the same time learn about Truman Capote’s intimate parties along with Bert’s grandmother’s amazing recipes. This cookbook is a banquet in itself. Of course that’s because it has Bert’s name on it.
I love this cookbook! Great stories and recipes. My copy is so well used that I really should get another. I grew up along the Connecticut shore. I have been making Bert’s glazed ham since I was 16. Always a family favorite.
I agree, Anita. Bert’s ham is great! I love his recipes.
I first encountered this book in 1987, while living in Mexico. My dear friend that I was staying with made the Reina de Saba. It was like no other cake I had eaten before. Having an interest in cooking, I picked up the book and devoured it in 1 sitting. I have to also credit this book with my introduction to M.F.K. Fisher. I now have my own copy, and use it every now and then and think of my friend, who has long since passed.
Just a note. I grew up for a few formative pre-teen years in The Store. My parents were two of the “…five little Indians…”, the actress and the art-director.
Those were amazing days, the late 1960s, both for me and The Store and for Amagansett and the world. A lot of fond memories.
My mom knew Bert & Denis from her days in the theater, and they were all close friends for many years before their foray into business together. Glad you have enjoyed Bert & Denis’ book.
Hi Evan- Oh, my. The stories you could tell! Want to come over and chat?! The blog I wrote about The Store was one of the first I had written. I love that cookbook, and instantly loved Bert Greene even though I only met him once! What a delightful and warm person he was. I treasure all his books and his recipes are timeless. How fortunate your parents were to know him so well. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and sharing your lovely memories.
My name is Charley Baker. I worked in The Store during the summers of 1969 and 1970. Needless to say I learned a lot about taste. I became a chef myself years later. Now in retirement, I narrate audio books and would love to narrate The Cookbook, but no publisher responds to my request for rights information. Do you know anyone who can help me?
Hi Charley- How I wish I could help you! I would have no idea how to advise you. Maybe someone here reading this could offer some help. The only thing I can think of is that nowadays with all the social media, I have found that companies sometimes will respond to questions if you ask them on their Facebook page or even Twitter, and in a more timely matter most of the time. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Good luck to you! I love The Store cookbook so much – and Bert Greene. I would love to hear Bert stories from you!
I just stumbled upon this website researching the Store in Amagansett and I hope that it is still active. I am somewhat surprised and pleased that people are still interested in The Store Cookbook. I worked at The Store in the 70’s (after Charley Baker, though I do seem to remember him). I met Bert in 1971 and we lived and worked together (we both wrote cookbooks) until his death in 1988. It was a wonderful time in my life and losing him was devastating.
Fortunately, for me, I eventually met and married my husband George and feel so blessed that I have been allowed to have a happy second chapter in my life. I am assuming that 410/829-6105 is Charley Baker’s phone number. I have discovered his Facebook page so I will try to contact him.
Thanks for all the nice things you said about Bert. He truly was the kindest, friendliest, most loving and most generous man I have ever met. His happiness was to make others around him happy, too.
Phillip, I am so happy I found your comment. It landed in my spam box and I just now came across it. It would have been terrible to not have read your kind words. Everything I have ever heard about Bert was that he was very much loved. I was drawn to everything about him and I only met him once! He was so genuine, caring, and sweet from the beginning of our conversation. I will never forget those fifteen minutes of my life. I had first editions of all his cookbooks, and as you may have read on my website, all my cookbooks were lost in a flood. I am replacing Bert’s books one by one and will keep going until I find them all. Thank you so much for writing. I never tire of Bert stories.
Wow is all I can say for also stumbling upon your blog. Phillip I am so happy for you and the happiness you have found after your, and I can also add to that our painful loss of Bert. This is Perry Vaughan III and I think it goes without saying I loved both Bert and Myra as if they were blood relatives and to this day still feel as if they were.
Debbie I’m Denis’s nephew and I fondly remember when I was younger spending a few weeks over the course of many summers working at The Store. As I grew older, my visits grew longer. The last year Bert and Denis owned The Store, I spent the entire summer there and it was an experience I will never forget.
It’s moving to know the cookbook inspired you to set up this site.
Fondly, Perry Vaughan
Hi Perry- I get chills when I receive messages from anyone who knew Bert. And you are Denis’s nephew! I’m so thrilled to hear from you. It’s so funny that you wrote now because just two days ago I was interviewed by a food magazine and was asked what were my top ten favorite cookbooks of all time. The Store is on that list. You can write me anytime with stories of Bert and Denis, and of the times you worked at The Store. If you happen to live anywhere around New York City, when I visit my daughter there, I would love to have coffee and chat! Thank you so much for writing.
What happened to Denis Vaughn? After the Store cookbook it is like he disappeared. I very much enjoyed his sometimes caustic and funny asides that accompanied his recipe chapters. He, along wuth Bert, was a wonderful and original cook. Not to take any praise and credit away from Bert, but I don’t believe that Denis has been given the credit he deserves.
Hi Morgan- If you go to the post about the cookbook, look for the comment from Perry Vaughn III. He is Denis’s nephew! It might give you some insight, or maybe if you commented to him, he could tell you a lot more about Denis.
Hi Debbie and Morgan,
A few years after The Store closed, Denis moved to Petersburg VA.where my family was living at the time. It was around 1978 I think. He was the chef for a short while at a charming restaurant in the historic downtown area. His caustic and funny asides (I love that description you wrote of Denis SO TRUE!) followed him to Petersburg and as you can imagine didn’t bode well with the owners of the restaurant. He then moved to Sanibel Island where he helped some friends open a restaurant there. The drudgery of being in the kitchen had worn on him. Denis was wonderfully talented in the kitchen, but due to too many reasons to go into, had a penchant to destroy that talent.
It was around the mid 1980’s he found his way back to Manhattan. Through a mutual acquaintance he was introduced to Leo Lerman, an editor with Conde Naste. Denis became Leo’s valet for lack of any other term. He moved into Leo and Leo’s partner’s (Gray Foy) wonderful apartment in The Osborne on 57th and 7th.
Denis died unexpectedly in September 2000 just a few weeks short of his 80th birthday.
Thank You Morgan for your kind words about Denis. Denis fought a lot of demons in his life and sometimes they got the best of him, hence his disappearance. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Bert, and his sister Myra were as much family to me as Denis was. Bert worked very hard at earning the accolades he received. Unfortunately, Denis at that time, wasn’t capable of making the commitment necessary to move forward in the same capacity as Bert did.
Perry, thank you for your heartfelt words and information on Denis. As I am preparing our Thanksgiving meal this afternoon, I will imagine what Denis and Bert would have cooked. I bet it was wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
I have so many great memories of Dennis. My parents Martha and Buddy Rofheart were great friends of Bert and Dennis in the 1960s and were founders with them and Jackie Allison of The Store.
My mom was an actress and knew Dennis from probably the 1940s from various theatrical productions, even before she knew my dad.
I never had the pleasure of meeting your parents. I fondly remember Jackie though. Actually The theatre is where Denis’s passion was.
I remember spending the summer in Amagansett and Denis and I drove into the city and saw “Hair”. I was around 13 years old at the time. Afterwards Bert met us for dinner at Trader Vics. From that point on Denis was affectionately refered to as “Uncle Mame”
I love “Uncle Mame”! So cute.
Does anyone know where the store was in Amagansett?
I live here now and I love the history of this beautiful town. I bought the cook book and love it. I read it several times and each time find something new. I tried to match the picture to some of the stores in town…but still not sure of where it was located.
Hi Frances- I don’t know exactly where it was located, but if you read all the comments on this site, there are several people who worked or lived there would definitely know. If they are reading this, I’m sure they would help you as their comments express their love of The Store and its owners. How wonderful that you live in that beautiful town!
Hi Frances, I certainly do, since my parents were two of the original partners in the store, along with Bert and Dennis and Jackie.
It is where Mary’s Marvelous is now, or was. It is the building on the left side of the entrance to the main Amagansett Parking lot. On the opposite corner is the Amagansett Library.
Yes, thank you dearest Evan!
Thank you so much for letting me know where the store was located. I love that
cookbook and all the stories in it. You made my day!!!
Frances, I am so glad you got your answer! Me too!
Gary Glant, Seattle, here.
After repeatedly laughing out loud while reading The Store Cookbook one Sunday afternoon in 1982, I wrote Bert a fan letter. Much to my delight, he responded quickly and therein began a wonderful and meaningful friendship.
Today after unexpectedly and happily discovering Bert’s Green Dip in the New York Times, I went to some of Bert’s cherished cookbooks (all inscribed during many visits to my home) and found a stash of correspondence inside one of them. Bert was a skilled writer. What a treasure trove.
Realizing again how very young Bert was when taken from us all, I went to my computer to find his obituary and stumbled upon this blog. Bravo !! What a find. And, Phillip, if you are reading this, very nice to know that you are happy and to hear your “voice” Many happy memories, non?
We are all so very fortunate to have spent such privileged time with the dear, loving and iconic Bert Greene.
Gary, you just made my day. Once again, Bert touched so many hearts and I love hearing the stories. I wrote several blogs about Bert back in 2010 when I first started my blog, and I continue to hear from those who knew and loved him. The Store cookbook was one of the very first blogs I wrote! Back then, I had no camera so I simply scanned all the cookbooks, the format was different, so I think I owe it to Bert fans to update a whole new blog about him! It’s on my to-do list now. Thank you so much for writing, Gary, and for your lovely memories of Bert. What a treasure you have in those letters. I hope Phillip sees this too!
Green dip has been a favorite for years. Also his sister’s pineapple dessert recipe.
Thanks, Pat! I’m going to look up those recipes right now!
My name is David Epstein. I worked in The Store for two summers when I believe I was 16 and 17 that would have been 1970 and 71 probably, because I was a driver dishwasher and general do anything that was needed I remember going to the local IGA or Bohacks supermarkets and cleaning out their supplies of heavy cream for mousse. Deliveries of catered food to great houses. Working Saturday nights in supper club serving dinners for about 20 people. It was a great time in my life and created in me a love of quality food and cooking. I loved working for those guys I remember Myra and I remember when Phillip showed up I have an image of him endlessly chopping using two French knives simultaneously on one of the work tables.
What a wonderful story, David! I can’t imagine a more fun job than working at The Store. How lucky you are to have such great memories and developed the love of cooking and good food from the masters. Thank you for sharing.
Somehow – I think through a “cookbook club” long ago – have a copy of Greene on Greens. It is one that I would never let go of! My friend Gail and I joke about how much cream and butter is in many of the recipes. Have just loved reading the stories people have been sharing, and will order a copy of The Store. Somehow. Learning more about his personality and how loved he was….wow.
Unlike most blogs/recipes/cookbooks, Bert actually talked about growing the food rather than buying it from the store!! That part of the world has always fascinated me. If it wasn’t for Covid I’d love to visit Amagansett….
lots of love
Sharon Hanna (I wrote “The Book of Kale” but never mind…it’s not about me but by way of introduction)
Hi Sharon- It is obvious Bert was so well-loved by comments left about him, especially those who knew him well. He left quite a legacy! Like you, I love the “Greene on Greens,” his last book. I know you will love “The Store” cookbook. I treasure all his books and wish he were still here to write more. I miss his stories and enthusiasm for everything food. Thanks so much for writing. I would love to hear more about your cookbook.
Hi Debbie. You can google the book – it became a national best seller; written in 2012.
I had been writing for garden magazines and making school veggie gardens and working for seed companies – wrote the catalogue for John Scheepers (Kitchen Garden Seeds) etc. etc. for a long time, then Harbour Publisher (BC) wanted me to write a book. The second book called The Book of Kale and Friends is much better but published by a national publishing house and went nowhere, darn it. It adds herbs to the mix – growing them and how to use them with tons of ideas. Anyhow – so glad The Store is on its way.
Wow, Sharon! Thanks for the info on all your work. Congratulations! If you have a new cookbook in the works, be sure and tell us about it. I’d love to hear!