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#FBF Tales from The Road: 24 hrs in Chicago

The National Direct to Chef program is one of the largest branches of Island Creek Oysters. Through this operational beast, we sell oysters, caviar, and razor clams directly to over 700 of the best restaurants in the country!

Most of the time, our oyster salespeople are tethered to desks, 9-5 like the rest of us. However, when they aren’t hammering away at their laptops, the sales team does a lot of traveling! You can find them spreading the oyster gospel around NYC and New England, or on longer trips around Texas, California, Florida, and the Mid-West! We will be sharing short stories on this platform every few weeks about our travels around the country. For a glimpse into life as a traveling oyster sales(wo)man…Read on!


24-Hours in Chicago: West Town and Fulton Market

West Town, 7 AM:

We start our morning taking care of regular admin business- getting orders from chefs, inventory management, emails, and planning out our day. Our favorite cafe to work from in West Town is C.C. Ferns Coffee Bar & Spirits which is delightfully cozy and divey all at once.

9 AM:

Breakfast is at French-seafood-heaven, Cafe Marie Jean where we order literally everything on the menu; all of the foie gras, all of the toasts, a smoked/cured fish board, and a lobster hot dog (when in Chicago…)

10:30 AM:

While we’re in the neighborhood we can say hello to chef Trevor at Rootstock, a wine bar that crushes a rotating selection of our oysters plus tins of our Sterling caviar.

12 PM:

After maybe getting tattoos at our go-to shop,  Brown Brothers Tattoo, we can hit the road and make some sales calls. As salespeople at ICO, we’re responsible for the entire sales process. This includes making tons of cold calls to land new accounts, visiting current accounts, leading staff trainings, and eating. Eating a lot. Speaking of which, it’s probably time for lunch. We love to hit up cash-only chicken shack, Feed before leaving this neighborhood.

1-4 PM:

HUSTLING! We spend the bulk of the day making the aforementioned sales calls and taking care of all incoming emails and orders from chefs.

Fulton Market, 5-11 PM:

We’ll end the day in Fulton Market, a neighborhood which is not only under constant construction but is also arguably the best area for food in the city.  We’re lucky to work with many restaurants in this neighborhood, making it a great place to do an Island Creek-oyster-pub-crawl *pats self on the back for just coming up with this INSPIRED idea on the spot*.

Since it’s after 5 PM, we can ignore the endless ‘ping’ of our email inboxes and focus on what really matters – eating until we pass out. This generally looks something like:

-Before Dinner drinks at Maude’s Liquor Bar (chartreuse Y’all!)

-Dinner number 1 is at Roister, the slightly more casual little sister of the Alinea group. And if we’re lucky, maybe chef Ed from Next will bring us a treat from upstairs…

-Dinner number 2 is at Publican, one of the first restaurants in Chicago to work with us! Their focus is pork, beer, and oysters. Our love for them is self-explanatory.

-Night Cap at Momotaro, mainly to ogle at the beautiful interior. Followed by old school arcade games at Emporium.


Now, it’s time to head back to our Airbnb to enter in any late night orders before falling into an oyster fueled coma. We wake up early the next morning, rinse and repeat.