Notable Neighbors

Cape Cod Life  /  Annual Life 2023 /

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

Notable Neighbors


Cape Cod Life  /  Annual Life 2023 /

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

We all know that Cape Cod is home to a copious amount of marine and terrestrial dwellers; various winged creatures, schools of fish, majestic whales, and fertile plant life that brims from every corner. And it’s of no surprise to us that visitors from across the globe flock here to bear witness to the natural beauty and create memories—or that in the popular summer months the population here swells to double (higher in some towns!) and our shores and streets teem with tourists. But something you perhaps did not know is that there are some pretty noteworthy people with unique talents and distinctive accomplishments who live among us, and for whom calling the Cape home is as important as their successes. 

The compelling people you will meet in our Notable Neighbors currently live on this spit of land in some capacity, or hold remembrances made here, close in their hearts. Whether they reside year-round or only for a period of time, we can all agree with America’s favorite next-door resident Mr. Rogers, that when it comes to Cape Cod, it’s always a beautiful day in the neighborhood. 

Anna Rossi

When Anna Rossi and her family decided they wanted a home where they could create roots and make memories, they deliberately chose Cape Cod. “It checked all the boxes for us,” says Rossi, an Emmy Award winning lifestyle host, TV personality and renowned cook. “We wanted to be connected not just to the natural beauty, but to the interesting people in the tightly knit artistic and culinary community. The Cape was the core common denominator for our family.”

Photo by Derrick Zellman
Photo provided by Anna Rossi

Anna’s connection to food and passion for travel sparked years ago, culminating in a spot on the show MasterChef USA. An “island girl” at heart, she says she has always been drawn to the water and she finds her love of clean, simple ingredients and healthy living is nourished on the Cape. Armed with their shell fishing licenses, her family delights in clamming and foraging for dinner. “We love preparing seafood dishes where littlenecks or cherrystones are the stars—linguine vongole, baked clams oreganata—savoring the flavors of the fresh herbs, the olive oil and all those sweet briny morsels.” 

While they are very home centric, “Our needs are simple and our bikes, clamming gear and waders are always at the ready!” she does have some favorite spots to hit once they cross the bridge. Dowses Beach, Long Beach, and Paine’s Creek all come to mind as locations to throw a line, launch a paddleboard, or take a contemplative walk in the sand. Special family treats include a trip to 1856 Country Store for penny candy, after a full beach day, and a trip to The Salty Cow for ice cream. 

Eager to share her family’s favorite recipes, Rossi is a frequent presence on Instagram. Follow her at @annarossiofficial or catch her on The Chef’s Pantry and as the cohost of The Hub Today both found on NBC 10 Boston.

Text by Leslie Hatton

Duff Goldman

Duff Goldman probably gets a kick out of telling his fellow bakers that he grew up in a town that shares a name with a common lunch item. But it’s true. Goldman, a host of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes and Kids Baking Championship, an international baking superstar, author, owner of renowned bakery Charm City Cakes and a new dad, graduated from Sandwich High School. 

Photos @duffgoldman

In retrospect, Jeffrey “Duff” Goldman believes growing up on Cape Cod in the small town for some of his formative years helped make him, “…more competent at life. My friends and I fished and built things and worked on cars. I think I had more responsibility as a kid than some of my friends that grew up in bigger cities.”  

And even though he now lives in Los Angeles, the Cape’s beaches are embedded in his memories, “I think Truro and Wellfleet are magical. The National Seashore isn’t like any other beach. Our local beach now is Malibu/Santa Monica and don’t get me wrong, they’re nice beaches, but Cape Cod’s National Seashore is unparalleled—the foliage, the landscape, the critters—it’s just special.”  

Goldman’s success has been well earned and he’ll undoubtedly pass on his strong work ethic to his adorable new daughter Josephine, whom he often proudly showcases, along with his wife Johnna, on his Instagram page. While living on the Cape he worked at the McDonald’s in Hyannis, Sandwich Pizza, and 6A Café in Sandwich, yet he also grew to love some other local favorites. “Nobody. In. The. World. Knows how to make fried clams right. Nobody. Like crab cakes in Baltimore, the only good fried clams are on the Cape. My favorites are Seafood Sam’s, Marshland and PJs Dari-Burger.” Given his success and background as a baker, notable clients include president Barack Obama, author Tom Clancy, actor Sir Roger Moore and popstar Katy Perry, you might think it’s cake that Duff dreams of—but you’d be wrong. “Fun fact about me: I think about clams at least once a day. I love clams so much.” 

A modern-day renaissance man of sorts, Duff graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, attended the Corcoran College of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley. Additionally, he can play a mean bass guitar and has been in several bands; and to round out his artistic talents, he is a metal sculptor and a graffiti artist.

However, no matter how many new adventures he takes, or endeavors he embarks upon, Goldman remembers the simple things, “Fishing on Lawrence Pond, bonfires on the beach, four-wheeling on the power lines, spending time on the water, going to headshops in Provincetown, Canal Cup hockey, clamming.” 

His advice for young, budding chefs on the Cape is, “Learn the food of the region. The fish, the clams, the shellfish, the produce. Learn the techniques. Make chowder and stuffies. Learn how to catch, clean, and cook all the fish. Those lessons will stay with you forever. Learn how to steam a perfect lobster. Get really good at shucking oysters. Then, when you leave and travel, you’ll have a center that no matter how wild things get, you’ll be able to find yourself. And you’ll know how to make bitchin’ clam chowder.” 

Regardless of how far away he lives or where his travels take him, the Cape is tattooed on Duff Goldman’s heart. “Oddly enough I miss the winter. I also miss that sense of a strong regional identity. In L.A., everyone is from literally everywhere and that’s beautiful, but there’s a comfort in living in a place that knows exactly where it came from and who it is.” 

Text by Leslie Hatton

Dylan Fernandes

As a lifelong resident of Cape Cod, Dylan Fernandes has a strong appreciation for the landscape and unparalleled beauty of the region—a perspective that’s only truly possible for someone who has spent their life biking the Cape’s many trails, kitesurfing through the rolling waves of Buzzards Bay, admiring the undulating hills of Chilmark and traversing the cobblestones of Nantucket. As a millennial, he also understands the difficulties that plague young, working class residents looking to build a life in a region dominated by a seasonal economy. These unique perspectives are ones that have led him to a career in public service and inform his work as a state representative serving Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and the Elizabeth Islands since 2017. 

Photo by Matt Rissell 

Fernandes was elected to office when he was just 26 and sworn in just after his 27th birthday. “Being a millennial, I see firsthand how incredibly hard it is for young people to live here. It’s profoundly unaffordable in so many different ways, housing being the biggest one,” explains Fernandes. As Fernandes puts it, the housing crisis erodes our communities, making it difficult for younger generations to live in the region, as well as the effects of literal erosion of the region. “We try to focus on policies that address the issues facing these young, working class residents in a way that also protects our environment,” says Fernandes. “We’re building in smarter ways and trying to still preserve as much land as possible. We live on a sandbar and climate change is going to have such a big impact here, so preparing for and mitigating that as much as possible is something we’re very serious about.”

Of course, there are a number of challenges that the region faces; Fernandes cites the opioid epidemic that has hit the Cape and Islands especially hard and issues in water quality, but what he’s rightfully proud to focus on are the Cape’s many successes. “We do so many things incredibly well,” he enthuses. “The Cape is such a welcoming community, and we see that with our success in tourism. We’re also a scientific community with a strong blue economy, using our ocean resources to fuel our growth. We see that in things like the strength of our shellfishing industry and our internationally recognized scientific institutions.” It’s that legacy that Fernandes hopes not only to protect but to further, so that future generations can continue to demonstrate all there is to love about the Cape and Islands. Fernandes’ success with nation-leading environmental policies, including legislations on offshore wind and the first leading legislation on ocean acidification (one of the biggest environmental threats to our oceans), will ensure that happens. 

“My region has a lot of ocean,” he laughs. “So those kind of policies are big for us and I’m proud that we’ve been able to pass them relatively quickly. The pace of change can be frustrating of course, but we’re leading the nation in combatting climate change and protecting our beautiful shorelines, and these things impact not only the state but the whole country.”

For someone so involved in the success of his community, it can be understandably difficult to step away from work—hard to “leave it at the office” when the office is your home. But Fernandes doesn’t seem to mind. He is inspired by the natural wonder of the Cape, endlessly siting his favorite places, (Great Harbor, Naushon, Hadley’s Harbor, and Chappy Beach to name a few), and when he does manage to find downtime, he can usually be found kite surfing along one of the Cape’s many shorelines he so passionately protects. 

“I think my favorite part about the Cape is that we are such a civically-minded community,” says Fernandes. “We have the most beautiful harbors in the world and the most interesting people. My job affords me the opportunity to build relationships and meet some incredible, inspiring people.” What better way to put that sentiment into action than to advocate for the wonderful people and the striking landscape he so passionately defends? 

Text by Allyson Plessner

Judith Davis

Serendipity is an unplanned, fortunate discovery which can come in many forms; perhaps it’s a chance meeting, or maybe finding something interesting or valuable, or in Judith Davis’ case it was the decision to let her hair turn gray. “I stopped coloring my hair after my oldest daughter got married because I was so sick and tired of it. It’s expensive and I was just done.” She says the transition wasn’t always pretty, and some of her friends might have thought she was crazy, and in total, it took about two to three years—but then something life-changing happened. She became a model.

She was at a holiday party when someone asked to take her picture as a mutual friend was looking for silver-haired women for a photo shoot. She laughed as she agreed, but within minutes of the text being sent, she was asked to pose for more pictures. The stock photos taken of her began popping up in ads for Fidelity Investments in Newsweek, to name a few. She wondered, “maybe there’s something going on here” and sought out the help of Maggie Inc., a modeling and talent agency in Boston. She was hired on the spot and much to her humble surprise, has been fielding jobs ever since. Jobs that have taken
her everywhere from a sunflower field, to the Catskills to Boston Fashion Week. “It’s been so much fun. I’ve met so many interesting, creative people.”  

Photo by Kristyn Mills
Photo by Gale Zucker
Photo by Kim Roderiques

Davis, an animal lover, a grandmother and a native Cape Codder (her mother was a Crowell, a recognizable name on the Cape) never had modeling on her radar at all. She and her husband, acclaimed painter Bill Davis, ran their art gallery in Harwich and raised two daughters, fostering the girls’ love of ballet and horses. And while she has traveled the world, Davis says, “When I get back and I see that bridge, there’s just no other place like it. There’s something about the little houses on 6A and walking in the woods.” 

A common misconception about modeling is that it’s all runways and couture fashion and your own personal glam squad, but Davis says that’s not always the case. “It’s definitely not as glamorous as you’d think. I had one job in April, where I was standing in the water in Cape Cod Bay and a wave came up and into my boots and I had to trudge back to the car and change in the parking lot. Things are always shot out of season, so I’ll be in a wool sweater in August when it’s 97 degrees and I’m sweating.” But then there was also the time when she was in a fashion show in New York City or on the cover of M Magazine in Sweden. Twice. “The Europeans are way ahead of Americans in terms of accepting silver hair.” One gig that stands out? “It was crazy. It was for a futuristic fashion show during Boston Fashion Week, and I was holding a huge ball overhead in six-inch heels on a revolving round disc. I mean, I’m 65 and I had three-inch fingernails—it was insane!” 

Davis’ youthful exuberance for this new found career and her genuine happiness for other “silver sisters” is authentic. “Everyone has been super great. I can’t speak for other agencies but at Maggie, we are a family. So many times I’ve seen women not be supportive of each other and it’s such a shame. We’re all in this together.” 

Of aging she says, “Don’t count us out. We’ve got plenty of things to give and share and be a part of. My own mother is 89 and vibrant.” Judith Davis, it appears, is beautiful inside as well as out.  

Text by Leslie Hatton

Scott Zolak

Photos provided by Scott Zolak

For former New England Patriots’ quarterback Scott Zolak, Cape Cod isn’t just a sandy vacation peninsula, it’s synonymous with family. “The Cape is where I’m able to re-charge, reconnect and take a deep breath. It gets me away from everyday life, and for me, being on the Cape indicates the end of one season, and at the same time the beginning of another. Football is over and summer is here, and once summer is over it’s right back to football.” Zolak’s slice of heaven provides a much needed respite from his duties as a cohost of the popular sports talk radio program Zolak & Bertrand on 98.5 The Sports Hub and provides insider commentary as the Patriots’ color analyst for the Patriots Radio Network. As the weather warms and the beaches beckon; microphones, show planning and game coverage all take a backseat to cookouts, cocktails and boat rides for Zolak and his family which includes his wife and three children. 

“Zo’s” connection to the Cape dates back over twenty years when he met his wife Amy, a Bourne resident. “I met my wife’s family for the first time many years ago on December 13th, which is incidentally my birthday. We had dinner at her family’s home. It was the winter and no one was around. I was surprised by the quiet, it was like The Twilight Zone!” 

Like any lover of the Cape and the Cape lifestyle in general, Zolak has several must-do and must-see spots once he crosses the canal. For cocktails, the Zolaks are often found enjoying the sunset in an Adirondack chair on the oyster shells at The Chart Room in Cataumet, tipping back the restaurant’s renowned mudslide concoction. A short jaunt down the Shore Road is a family staple, The Courtyard, where Zolak shares a Boston sports connection with owner Jay Miller, a former Boston Bruin. When heading into Falmouth, Scott and his family enjoy the picturesque waterfront views of The Flying Bridge and often reserve date nights for C Salt Wine Bar & Grille; family pizza nights however are at Wicked Restaurant and Wine Bar in Mashpee

“For me, the summer on the Cape is all about spending time with my wife and children. Being on the Cape is relaxation for me. I take a lot of time off in July and we often take the boat to Race Point Beach to whale watch and fish. We also love going out of Sesuit Harbor—they have the best clams right there at the Sesuit Harbor Café, and being able to buzz down Cape Cod Bay, pull in, tie up the boat and feast on local seafood—there really isn’t anything better.” For some of the best scenic views Scott recommends the village of Woods Hole. “I love watching the ferries coming in and out of the harbor. The whole area is a picture postcard. In fact, that is one of the things I love about the Cape, not only are there endless places to spend time, have fun and create memories with family and friends, but it is all in the middle of one of the most beautiful places around.”

But for Zolak, the best day of the summer is undoubtedly July 4th. “There is nothing like the Fourth of July on Cape Cod! At our house, which overlooks Buzzards Bay, we can see every town’s fireworks across the bay and it is incredibly beautiful. It’s just spectacular. We have a big clambake to celebrate the holiday every year with our family and friends and there is simply nothing like it. Being with our entire family is priceless.” 

Text by Leslie Hatton

Morgan Johnston

Photos by Julianne Drake Photography

To make it in the music industry, especially the country music industry, it’s no secret that Nashville is the place to go. For Morgan Johnston, who grew up on Cape Cod, it might seem like a big decision to move from her coastal hometown to the streets of Nashville, but it was one she made with no hesitation. “It was a big leap for me, of course,” she says of the move, “but I just told myself, ‘You only have one life.’ I’m so happy to be able to spend mine doing what I love.”

Johnston grew up first in Marstons Mills and later on her family’s farm in Sandwich (which she jokes that her new neighbors in Tennessee might not consider a farm at all). She first fell in love with Nashville on a trip to see Brett Young. “I used to sing original songs at open mic nights at Sandwich Taverna, but I never really considered becoming part of the music industry. But, that trip to Nashville showed me that it was achievable, and I fell in love with both the city and the path I knew it would take to achieve my goals.” Johnston moved to Nashville three months later.

“Music was always something I loved; the biggest difference is that now it’s something I do professionally too,” explains Johnston. “For me, that wasn’t as hard of a transition to make as you might think.” Before deciding on a music career, Johnston pursued a love of equestrianism in college, and describes trying to turn her passion for horses into a career as difficult. “Music isn’t like that for me,” she says. “I can live, breathe, eat, and sleep it and never feel overwhelmed.”

Recently Johnston was able to return to her home of Cape Cod to play at Hyannis’ Melody Tent with Dustin Lynch. “The first concert I ever saw was Gretchen Wilson at the Melody Tent,” says Johnston, displaying her lifelong love of country music. “I felt so proud, nostalgic, and honored to be able to play there myself. I feel like I have such a strong connection to the Cape and the lifestyle, and the community has always encouraged and supported me. It’s something I’ll never forget.” In fact, Johnston has garnered the support of a few local radio stations: Cape Codders can hear her music regularly on Cape Country 104. With a viral song on TikTok, Like it’s His Job, and a steady stream of new singles, Johnston has found international success, but remains connected to her Cape roots, spending her summers making trips to Sandy Neck and Café Chew, and winters admiring the holiday décor at the Grist Mill. 

“What I always try to do with my music is share the truth about my life, and I hope that it makes others feel heard and seen,” says Johnston. “There’s also this other side of me that’s a little sassy and fun and I hope that those songs make people feel encouraged and confident. At the end of the day, I always want my music to be honest.”

Johnston describes loving the experience of music: from the simplicity of writing songs to the joy of strangers becoming friends. “People will come up to me after a song and it’s so amazing to me the connections that happen just because of one three-minute song,” she describes. “It’s so uniting and such a unique experience that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t chosen to be vulnerable and share through music.”

As her new EP aptly states, for this Cape Cod girl chasing her country music dreams, There’s No Going Back.

Text by Allyson Plessner

John Stimpson

The allure of Hollywood: It’s something well-known, desirable, and, in many ways, intangible­—a concept more than a place. It’s an idea that puts a life of glamour and riches within reach for anyone willing to give voice to their dreams; in Hollywood almost anything feels possible. For a filmmaker, it’s an easy call: why live anywhere other than the entertainment capital that is Hollywood? But, John Stimpson would disagree. For him, it’s the small town, local vibrance of his home state of Massachusetts that inspires his work, and it’s here, amidst the New England scenery that moves him and the local characters who encourage his creativity, that he has chosen to put down the roots of his production company, H9 Films.

“It’s so great to be a local generating film right here in Massachusetts,” says Stimpson. “It’s important to me to be able to hire local crews and give those folks the leg up that we in the industry have all strived for ourselves at one point or another. There’s only a handful of filmmakers who live and generate content in Massachusetts, and we’re proud to be able to do that.”

Stimpson, a summer resident of Megansett, fell in love with Cape Cod when he met his wife working together at a once beloved North Falmouth restaurant: The Wicker Tree. Like so many, that summer job led to a lifetime of summers on the Cape, relishing in days spent sailing on Buzzards Bay, strolling through Woods Hole, or watching sunsets at Megansett Beach. Stimpson has been fortunate to have been able to shoot two of his films on the Cape, with his recent piece, A Cape Cod Christmas being a crowd favorite, and says that the Cape is always in his mind as a potential location for films. “There’s something magical about this place, something that’s in your blood.” 

Photo by Bobby Clarke

“In school, I had pretty traditional expectations of what I would end up doing with my life. My dad suggested engineering; I don’t think I even knew what the word meant…driving a train?” laughs Stimpson. “I quickly realized that I gravitated more toward the arts. I loved what you could do with a camera, and after trying my hand at acting and getting that out of my system, I was more than happy to move into production.”

Now as an established writer, director, producer, and editor, Stimpson has found international success in the film industry. As a Massachusetts native though, Stimpson is enthusiastic about building a welcoming, lively environment for the arts right at home. Creating great work and making a name in an already challenging industry without the benefit of rubbing elbows with the big decision makers in Hollywood is certainly a challenge, but Stimpson is proud to have been able to establish himself, and raise his family, in a place he loves. 

Through his company, H9 Films, and his support of the Commonwealth’s recently passed Film Tax Credit, providing incentives for Massachusetts-based productions, Stimpson has made Massachusetts a more viable shooting location and a more vibrant locale for those in the industry. “It’s fantastic that we’re able to show the region in such a great light and to give young filmmakers here a start in the business.”

For Simpson, the most rewarding part of what he does is sitting in a theater, a member of the audience just like everyone else, and watching his films evoke a reaction from viewers. “Whether they laugh, cry, smile, I hope that my movies move them. I want to give people an escape from their busy lives,” says Stimpson. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be a film director right here in Massachusetts,” he continues, “and not a day goes by that I don’t remind myself of that.”

Text by Allyson Plessner

Bob Staake

Photos provided by Bob Staacke

One of artist Bob Staake’s most iconic pieces is Reflection, which graced the cover of The New Yorker on November 17, 2008 in celebration of Barack Obama’s historic victory. It depicts the Lincoln Memorial at night, mirrored in the Reflecting Pool and illuminated by the brilliant white “O” in the magazine’s name—both the full moon and a synecdoche for the incoming president. 

“This is probably my most well-known image,” Staake muses. “But it is quite atypical of my work. It needed a somber, serious look, so I chose to make it photo-realistic.” Because of the assignment’s particulars, he needed to explore something different with his art, so he thought, I can figure that out, I can do that. “That’s my journalistic training,” he says, “to believe I was competent enough to pull it off, to find a solution, to work a problem and not shy away from it.”

If you’ve seen The New Yorker over the past couple of decades, odds are pretty good you’ve seen the art of Bob Staake. But his body of work extends into realms far distant from the nation’s top intellectual magazine. 

“I’m an unusual artist,” he says, matter of factly. “Not many illustrators will do the cover of Mad Magazine, a long-running op-ed page for the Washington Post, cereal boxes, and Ren & Stimpy cartoons. It’s really unusual to have created a style that’s applicable in all different venues, but it fits my personality—I’m scattered, and my sense of curiosity has carried over.”

Thus, Staake has storyboarded and designed for animated shows and short films, created original art, produced posters and prints, and has written and/or illustrated over 75 books, mostly for kids. While much of his work is wholesome, Staake also nurtures a mischievous streak by creating satirical pieces, including a line of fake children’s books with titles such as Bukowski For Kids, where a traumatized sister and her brother stare in horror at the contents of Green Eggs and Ham on Rye

Although Staake was an adopter of digital art back in the early 1990s, he notes that much of his work begins with brush strokes and pencil sketches. “I’m as much a digital illustrator as I am traditional,” he says. Right now he’s working on a wordless book called Lost, which he explains is in a similar vein to 2013’s Bluebird. And he’s happily “semi-retired,” which he hopes will provide more time to create New Yorker covers. 

“I’m kind of doing what I want,” he says. “I had been doing four-to-five books a year, but no one should be doing that. It’s nice to live at a more leisurely pace.” 

Bob Staake never took an art class after high school—he double-majored in international relations and journalism—but one of his dreams was to become an editorial cartoonist. Despite early success, however, he moved to L.A. and branched out because the newspaper opportunities were so locked. “It was like musical chairs,” he said, as too many artists vied for the same slots. In L.A. he diversified, and then moved to St. Louis, his wife’s hometown. In 1995, the Staakes purchased a summer home in Chatham and fell in love with the Cape. “We would come for the month of August,” he says, “because the publishing world would shut down then.” After their eldest child went off to school, the Staakes decided to move to Chatham full-time and haven’t looked back. 

Beginning this summer, Staake will put on a retrospective one-man show at the Cape Cod Museum of Art entitled The Endless Imagination of Bob Staake. Because so much of his art has been for print, he says, “I’ve successfully avoided the fine art world. It’s a pain to frame, mat, and take pieces to a gallery.” And yet, he’s bringing pure delight the exhibition. “If I were a curator it would be the last show I’d want to put on,” he says impishly. “‘One guy doing all of this different stuff? Let me get this straight!’”

The Endless Imagination of Bob Staake will run from July 12-October 15, 2023, and he says, “I’m hopeful that the wide-ranging variety of my art will make for a truly entertaining, terrifically dizzying and refreshingly uncommon exhibit for both adults and kids.”

Text by Chris White

Cape Cod Life Publications