Meet the Guide: Bert (Part 1)

Last week, Bert sat down with me at one of my favorite French bakeries. Patisserie Claude has some of the best croissants I’ve had in New York City and the creamiest latte you could ever hope for. It’s definitely a great place to sit down and get to know of the Foods of New York tour guides a little better.

Tour guide Bert at Patisserie Claude in Greenwich Village

How did you get started with Foods of New York Tours?

Basically I harassed Todd for about five years. I knew him from my first tour guide job as a chocolate tour guide. And they used Zerve, as well, so I kinda knew him from that. Hanging out in the Village, I would see the tours going around.
He said “I’m not hiring right now, email me every month and remind me.” So I emailed him every month for about five years until about a year and a half ago, when he called and said, “If you’re still interested, I have a position.” Basically, harassment is how I got the job.

[Helena’s note: Please don’t email Todd every month asking for a job, dear readers.]

What is your favorite NYC neighborhood?

I live in Bushwick, and I like it. I have a backyard, I love to garden, and I have a grill out there. I cook every day. But my favorite neighborhood — it sounds cheesy — but it’s Greenwich Village. I’ve hung out in this neighborhood for years and years, I just love it. It’s a great neighborhood, a great little community.
My job in the office is mostly dropping off the orders and keeping a good relationship with the shops, which I like because I like to talk. I go in and I chat with all the different shops for a good 20 minutes each. I feel like I’m a part of the community. I definitely feel like I have more of a connection with Greenwich Village than I do with my own neighborhood.
Is that the main part of keeping a good relationship with the shops?
It’s definitely one of them. It would be so much easier to call or email, but it’s that face-to-face interaction every day that sets us apart. We don’t just show up the day of the tour; it’s about letting them know that we’re part of the neighborhood. Plus, I like everyone at the shops so I like going around and talking to everybody.
What’s one place that everyone, New Yorker and tourist alike, has to go to?
Keens Steakhouse. It’s not in the best part of town — I mean there’s really no good reason to go up there unless you’re a tourist going to the Empire State Building — but it’s just an amazing steakhouse. Everyone goes on about Peter Luger, and that’s another good one, but Keens is just an amazing steakhouse. I love a good, thick, awesome cut of steak. There is nothing you can have there that would be bad. It’s a little touristy, but everyone should go to Keens.

Bert is adorable, and he gives the Original Greenwich Village Tour and the Explore Chinatown Tour. Stay tuned; later this week, we’ll be hearing about Bert’s favorite food and his time in the kitchen with his grandmother.

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