10 Young Hamptonites on Finding Success at an Early Age

By Rachel Felder | July 31, 2017 | People Feature

Ten young movers and shakers, born and bred on the East End, are making massive waves in food, photography, film, and more—and they’ve only just begun.

Henry Margaritis 26

Hamptons-influencers-10.jpg

For Henry Margaritis, cofounder of Off the Grill caterers, the ideal Hamptons gathering is informal, relaxed, and the antithesis of uptight. “A lot of the catered parties I go to are so stuffy,” he says. “Those are plated, sit-down dinners, and we wanted to do something more fun, cool, and casual.” So Margaritis teamed up with his pal Ryan Piscitelli to offer an alternative, focused on a portable brick pizza oven, plancha, and charcoal grill that they set up in clients’ backyards to cook up specialties like fish tacos, grilled Mexican corn, and pizza with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and truffle oil.

Despite having worked for esteemed chefs like April Bloomfield and studying at the International Culinary Center, Margaritis has always loved unfussy, casual food. “I grew up eating grilled cheese and french fries from the concession at Cooper’s Beach as a kid,” he says. “My brothers and I were there seven days a week each summer, even if it was raining.”

But while his food is low-key, sourcing top-tier ingredients is a priority for Margaritis, who lives in Southampton Village. The seafood is either caught by fishing friends, purchased at the local market Cor-J Seafood, or reeled in by Margaritis and Piscitelli themselves. The vegetables have a similar pedigree: “We’re at the farmstands every morning picking out stuff,” he says. “All of our produce is in season.”

Beyond serving delicious fare, Off the Grill’s unique catering model allows Margaritis and Piscitelli to enjoy an added perk that more formal caterers, tucked inside a kitchen or garage doing prep work, can’t. “We’re in the backyard, so we [become] part of the party,” he says.

Sailor Brinkley Cook 19

Hamptons-influencers-1.jpg

As she’s the daughter of model Christie Brinkley, it would be easy to assume that Sailor Brinkley Cook spends her post-high school days focused solely on modeling. Instead she chose the role of student, attending the prestigious Parsons School of Design. “I feel like I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t get my college degree,” she says. “I pride myself on getting an education and having that to back me.”

Her mother’s time in front of the camera, however, might have influenced Cook to pursue a major in photography. “I carried around a camera from age 5,” she says. “I was obsessed. When Facebook profile pictures were a huge thing for young kids, I would be the person that everyone would call and we’d do mini photo shoots. I always knew that it was something I wanted to do.” Now she hopes to use that passion to give back. “What I would really love to be able to do in photography is to tell other people’s stories and give a voice to the voiceless, especially in travel and photojournalism,” Cook says. “I love hearing what people have to say, to be able to create but also somehow make a difference.”

Still, she does do some modeling, like a recent campaign for the online clothing retailer Boohoo. For that, her mother offers advice that goes beyond how to strike a flattering pose: “Be kind and really respect everyone.”

Rebecca Knox 24

Hamptons-influencers-2.jpg

Rebecca Knox has two jobs that, at first glance, seem completely unrelated: acting and helping spread the word about her family’s mezcal brand, Doña Sarita, as its vice president. But Knox sees similarities in the two roles. “You have to get used to hearing the word ‘no,’” she explains. “When you audition, people don’t always want you for that role, and when you go into restaurants and bars, some people don’t care about the brand. It always helps to give off a confident presence.”

That confidence has paid off in both fields: Doña Sarita has won awards at several prestigious spirits competitions, and Knox has appeared in films like Return to Montauk, directed by critically acclaimed director Volker Schlöndorff, and on the television show Bull.

Unlike the many actors who are based in Los Angeles, she divides her time between an apartment on the Upper East Side and East Hampton, where she lives with her family at their hotel, the White Sands Resort. “I love New York and being close to East Hampton, and I’ve found that there are plenty of opportunities to work here,” says Knox, who is grateful for having been raised out East.

“It’s a beautiful environment to grow up in,” she raves. “It’s unlike any other place I know. We’re close to the city but we’re still in the countryside.”

Ryan Moore 26

Hamptons-influencers-3.jpg

Photographer Ryan Moore’s colorful, evocative work is essentially a visual ode to the beaches of the Hamptons. “That’s pretty much what I was going for,” he says. “I was always at the beach as a kid. When we were surfing, there would be these crazy moments where we’d be the last ones in the water, or the first ones in the water in the early morning, and I saw these moments of pure beauty. I just loved it and wanted to capture it.”

Catching the vivid colors and activities on the local beaches undoubtedly requires dedication. “It’s definitely weird hours,” says Moore. “I’ve gotten up at four in the morning to be ready to shoot from the water. Waking up that early is not something that I love to do, but once you’re shooting it’s totally worth it, if the sunrise cooperates.”

Moore, who lives in North Sea, shoots his beach and ocean photographs throughout the year—even in the wintertime, when freezing temperatures make projects extra challenging. “My motto is ‘Tropical to tundra’ for the conditions I shoot in,” he says. In the winter, his forays involve donning a wetsuit and covering his camera in a case that allows him to shoot underwater.

Although he has made a name for himself taking and selling photographs, Moore, who went to Southampton High School, was not inherently drawn to the arts. “I didn’t like art class that much, because I couldn’t paint,” he admits. “I was looking at magazines and I was like, ‘I want to do that,’ so I started taking pictures of my friends.”

A few years ago, his main subject matter switched to the beach nearby. As he puts it, “Around 20 years old, something hit me: This is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.”

Michael Dougherty 26

Hamptons-influencers-4.jpg

The path to success hasn’t been the traditional route of auditions and director meetings for actor Michael Dougherty. “I had an awakening and knew that if I was going to make it in this business, I couldn’t wait for the phone to ring,” he says. “I couldn’t rely on anyone to do it for me, so I decided to write and create passion projects.” One of those ventures is Love & Everything in Between, a film Dougherty wrote, produced, and stars in—shot right here on the East End.

Born in Southampton and raised in East Quogue, Dougherty felt the region was a natural fit for the film’s story. “The one thing that I [knew] from the outset is that I wanted to highlight the beauty of the Hamptons,” he explains. “That is the main character within this film.” Recognizable locations include Gosman’s Dock, 75 Main, and beaches in Montauk and Quogue where Dougherty surfed as a boy.

The filmmaker’s love of acting began around age 8, when he started landing roles in school plays at Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School in Southampton. “I was memorizing lines and performing in front of an audience of about 300,” he recalls. “That was the initial spark to delve into the arts.”

These days, Dougherty lives most of the year in Los Angeles, where he has an apartment in Hollywood, but he has been spending ample time in Quogue working on the film, which he has submitted to several film festivals. Next on his to-do list? More filmmaking, of course: He has a handful of projects in various stages of development.

Chloe Gifkins 27

Hamptons-influencers-5.jpg

Photography has been a passion for Chloe Gifkins since she was a student at Southampton High School. “I’ve always loved taking photographs,” she says. “It’s just been part of my identity. My friends knew I was someone with a camera all the time, and then I just started to continue building that craft.”

To that end, Gifkins attended Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, then landed the internship of a lifetime with acclaimed rock photographer Michael Halsband. “Some days he would say, ‘Would you just look through these photos of the Rolling Stones and scan them into the computer?,’ which was heaven for me,” she says.

These days, the photographer commutes between a house in Sag Harbor Village and her Greenpoint, Brooklyn, apartment. Concert photos, unsurprisingly, are one of her specialties; she’s shot live concert images of performers like 50 Cent and the Flaming Lips. “It can be really challenging, as lights change and people move, but I love that you’re on your feet catching the moment,” she says. “I did visual journalism at school, and that translates to this kind of stuff. You have to photograph the things that are happening in real time, so for me it’s exciting.”

She’s also excited to be making her own music, working on recording an album with her friend Mike Abiuso. “I definitely draw inspiration from Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse,” Gifkins says of her sound. “But I don’t think it would be fair to put me in that club.”

Caitlin Imrie 30

Hamptons-influencers-6.jpg

Fans of Imrie—the beachy boutique with locations in Westhampton Beach and East Hampton, as well as St. Barth’s and Maui—are drawn to the brand for its selection of relaxed, chic, and easy-to-wear clothing and accessories. For co-owner Caitlin Imrie, the store is extra special—a family affair.

“Everyone is somehow involved—that was sort of the whole idea of it when we started the business,” Imrie explains. While she focuses on merchandising, sales, and store layouts, one of her sisters works on social media and another handles business affairs. Their sister-in-law makes jewelry, one brother creates small leather goods like belts and bags, the other photographs the shops’ offerings, and their parents are active in the business as well. “We’ve spent our entire lives with each other,” she says. “We’re a very, very close family.”

In addition to the boutiques, Imrie’s other focus is horseback riding, which she has been doing since growing up in Quogue, where she still lives. “I’ve been riding since I was 2, and it’s just my passion,” she says. “There’s a little bit of risk and a bit of freedom, and working with something that’s unknown—you’re dealing with a 1,500-pound animal. It’s not just dependent on you; it’s dependent on how you can work as a team. It requires so much patience and also so much strength.”

A personal high point of her year is planned for September: Imrie is repeating her wedding vows with husband Marcilio “Brawzinho” Browne de Oliveira, a professional windsurfer, in a beachfront ceremony in Jericoacoara, a small fishing village in his native Brazil. Of course, her family will be there. Says Imrie, “We’re going to be closing [the store] for the first time pretty much ever then.”

Jake Patterson XX

Hamptons-influencers-7.jpg

Rapper and artist Jake Patterson—better known as Yung Jake—is a mystery to most. He will consent to interviews only via text—interrupted periodically by a car parking or an imminent meeting—and refuses to give his age. He will, however, share some basic facts: He grew up in Sag Harbor, is now based in Los Angeles, and graduated from the ultra-prestigious California Institute of the Arts.

This summer Patterson’s work has been shown at galleries on both coasts: in a solo show at Steve Turner in Los Angeles and at Southampton’s Tripoli Gallery of Contemporary Art. He’s decidedly succinct about the work in both exhibitions, describing the first as “a bunch of yellow pieces of steel and a yellow truck and a bunch of wrappers” and the second as simply “emoji portraits.”

He enjoyed growing up in the Hamptons, but feels that Los Angeles is the best place for his art. “It’s slower than NYC,” Patterson says. “I have more time to think and don’t feel pressured to always be doing stuff.”

Unlike many artists, Patterson is refreshingly down to earth—and nonchalant—about his creative process. “I sort of just make stuff,” he explains. “Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it sucks. Sometimes the good stuff sells, which is good, and sometimes the bad stuff sells, which is good. I enjoy making the stuff, which is the best part.” “Emoji Portraits” is on view through August 14 at Tripoli Gallery, 30A Jobs Lane, Southampton, 631-377-3715; tripoligallery.com

Tyler Davis 26

Hamptons-influencers-8.jpg

Montauk native Tyler Davis opened the healthy and casual eatery Happy Bowls in his hometown, but his inspiration came from trips far beyond the Hamptons. “I traveled across South America and came across açai,” he recalls. “I just knew if I could make bowls at a fast pace, and make them at a high standard, that they would do really well in Montauk.”

Happy Bowls, which debuted in 2013, has indeed been a success, starting with açai bowls and adding on-trend Hawaiian poke to its menu this year. For the latter, Davis sources freshly caught tuna that fisherman pals bring in straight from the boat. For the açai, he offers a wealth of toppings that make each bowl customizable. “The first year, I was [constantly] recommending things. Now people come in with their specific order,” he says. “We have 30 different toppings”—ranging from fresh fruit to chocolate from local candy stores. “It’s so cool to see everyone trying new things.”

This summer is a major one for the business: Davis is getting a Manhattan location ready, in the always-happening East Village. At around 1,700 square feet, it’s more than twice the size of the Montauk space. Says Davis, “I always said that if I was going to go to New York City and open a Happy Bowls there, it would be the biggest açai bar that New York City will ever see.”

Balaram Stack 25

Hamptons-influencers-9.jpg

Why does surfer Balaram Stack love the Hamptons? The waves, of course. “I started going there when I was 15,” he says. “I would just go for swells. Georgica is the most powerful one I’ve gone to. It has steep beach breaks, which is different than Long Beach, where I grew up—it’s shallower and heavier.”

These days he lives on the Lower East Side in Manhattan but admits that he’s rarely home. Instead, he’s on the road for around eight months each year, traveling to enviable destinations like Bali and other picturesque spots in the South Pacific. “I love the travels,” he says. “It gets to be a lot sometimes, but I just think about what I would be doing otherwise—and that I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”

The majority of those trips are related to Stack’s sponsorships by brands like Volcom, having videos taken and doing interviews. “That’s the whole support behind my career,” he says. “The only reason I’m able to travel is because of them. It’s awesome because [I’ve built] a friendship with the crews I’ve worked with. It’s a pretty fun industry to be a part of.”

An affiliation he’s especially proud of is with Oceanic Global, a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness of the fragile state of the world’s oceans. “It’s only right for me to give back to something that has provided a whole career that I love so much,” he says. “The ocean is everything to me.”

Want more awesome content like this? Sign up and get our best articles delivered straight to your inbox, as well as other subscriber-only deals from our luxe partners!
 
 
Categories: People Feature

photography by ZEV STARR-TAMBOR; STYLING BY JENNY HARGROVE; HAIR AND MAKEUP BY SHAYNA GOLD

Around the Web