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Thank you Nestor

Working in New York City for Island Creek – we see a lot of people. Between the truck and operations, we’re talking a multitude of chefs and their dedicated staff, unhinged pedestrians, James Spader, adorable babies, James Spader …

Some of what we witness is poetic, some we wish we could un-see (you can ask about that some other time) – so I decided with all this face time, we should riff off the recent success of HONY’s book release – Humans of New York. If you don’t follow it, do yourself a favor and get on it – it is a veritable buffet of emotions ranging from joyful giggles to tear-jerking ugly cries, all borne from the simple act of a photographer interviewing people on the streets of New York, and taking their portrait. Like HONY, we also see and meet all sorts, but it’s the ones you don’t always see or meet that I find the most interesting; for me, it’s these guys and gals that are the lifeblood of this job – we couldn’t pull it off without them. No doubt, there’s many – but there’s one who really stands out for me. And I’d like you to meet him.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Island Creek family, ICO in NYC would like to introduce: Nestor. Nestor’s name might as well be Superman or Oz as far as I’m concerned. He manages the Brooklyn Fish Transfer in the Navy Yard from the wee hours of the morning (which to some is also known as last call in Boston) until every truck is headed on their way with all the wares they need – the man is the godfather of all things ocean. Nestor is my lifeline at 3:00 in the morning if things are running rocky, and not only that – he’s just the sweetest and I adore him in a professional but also I-wish-you-would-adopt-me-so-I-could-come-to-family-dinner kind of way.

Let’s set the scene: it’s 7:00 or so, and you roll up in the super-van to pick up oysters sent down overnight from Duxbury. You glide, er – stumble through the plastic door guards in your mom jeans and dirty Vineyard sweatshirt from 7th grade (I know, yikes) past Nestor’s dedicated team in yellow aprons who wave as they expertly filet hundreds of pounds of fish with mariachi pop booming in the background. Nestor sits in the back behind a desk piled high with manifests -he seems to prefer his orange sweatshirt and now that the weather is getting nippy, he wears a knit cap that suits him very well. I’ve never seen him eat, or drink a drop. I’ve never heard him raise his voice. He’s superhuman and smiles a lot and has impeccable manners.

He always asks me how I am. He tells me to sit down if I look tired. He notices if I’m hurt or stressed (I’m pretty good at being both), and has even sent me love advice via text message (totally wept in the truck after that one). He also lets me use his scales after they’re packed away for the day, which pretty much means we’re bonded for life. Basically, he’s a dreamboat and if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be able to get the best oysters to all the good people out there -like you.

So next time you’re cozied up at John Dory or Brooklyn Fish Camp about to slurp down some fresh oysters – do us a favor won’t you, and give a big heartfelt thank you to Nestor. He deserves it –  all the hard workers that you don’t see do.

* Nestor would like you to know that he did not agree to take this picture for a company – not even Island Creek – but he agreed to take it for me. See what I mean? He’s a gem …


★ Hannah Grady runs the whirling gyre that is Island Creek’s Brooklyn shop.  She arrived on this island of misfit toys only recently, so please welcome her warmly and follow her on twitter:@grady_train ★