Meet the Guide: Heather

Heather and I sat down at the Cornelia Street Cafe earlier this week to share some food and chat about Foods of New York Tours. Cornelia Street Cafe has a fun wine flights menu that Heather wanted to try, and they’re one of the businesses we feature on our Original Greenwich Village Tour. The first snowstorm of the season had seized the city, so I had a little fun slushing my way to Greenwich Village in ill-suited shoes.

Heather Refvem in Cornelia Street Cafe from the Greenwich Village Tour

Before I started recording, Heather told me about her start at Foods of New York Tours: she worked in a tea shop at Chelsea Market and gave the store’s presentation to the Chelsea Market / Meatpacking District Tour when the tour groups came through. After a while, she realized she would prefer to give entire tours and eventually became an integral part of the Foods of New York team.

Now, Heather spends half her time working in the office supporting Todd and Amy and the other half of her time giving the Original Greenwich Village Tour.

What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?
I spend a lot of time in Hell’s Kitchen because I’m an actress, and I see a lot of shows. So I’m constantly trying to find new restaurants and things to do in Hell’s Kitchen. But I think every neighborhood is kind of great. I especially like the uptown and the downtown. I don’t really love love Hell’s Kitchen, it’s just kind of my default where I spend all my time.
I live near the Morris Jumel mansion [editor’s note: Manhattan’s oldest house and George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War]. I like how uptown has some really interesting history. Like the Dykeman Farmhouse, the Hamilton Grange, and I didn’t know that until about a year ago. There’s Revolutionary War history in northern Manhattan! It’s like there’s a world up there, and only the lucky, smart people are getting out there.
This spring I went up to Wave Hill in the Bronx, and Riverdale is awesome too. I love New York staycations and that kind of stuff.
What’s a place that’s not on one of the tours that you’re totally in love with?
I tend to stay towards the ones on the tour. I did recently take a food tour of Hell’s Kitchen — a dessert tour. I did discover a couple cool places on that. There’s this one cookie place called Schmackary’s that I’ve become a fan of, and they also do gluten free cookies.
I also love Empanada Mama on 9th Avenue. But I’m constantly looking for new places, too.
So you’re not one of those people who goes to the same places over and over again? I’m kind of like that sometimes.
No, I kind of feel like it’s partly my job to always be trying new places. And because I only give one tour but hear about the other neighborhoods, I get excited to try new things from the other tours.

I went to Tartinery the other day [editor’s note: of the Nolita Tour] because it was National Sandwich Day. And here I’ve been going into this establishment twice a week and placing orders four times a week for something I’ve never tried. So I decided I was going to go on my own and try the two sandwiches for the first time.

What makes Foods of New York Tours unique, from your perspective?
I think it’s just integration. We’re a part of the neighborhoods at this point: with having 5 tours go through an establishment in a day, and the fact that Todd lives here. I feel like a member of the community down here even though I don’t actually live here. And that’s something I would miss terribly if I were to leave this city or something.

I feel like other tour companies don’t have that kind of relationship with a street. We become symbols for Greenwich Village. I was in the Whole Foods on Bowery, and I heard behind me someone go, “Hey, it’s the Bleecker Street girl!” And I feel like any of us would be recognized like that.

You mentioned you’re an actor, what kind of acting do you like to do? Film, stage, both?
Both. I was a music theater major at the College of Santa Fe, and I came out here to pursue that and for a long time was tunnel vision music theater. This year, things have changed. I got a commercial agent and have been taking a lot of commercial acting classes and booking a lot of student film work and some television, as well. I’m hoping that will be a good path for me. I feel like maybe I’m meant to do more on-camera work, actually.
Is there anything we can see you in?
Yeah, soon actually. I filmed an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories on the Biography channel, where I play a younger version of Coach Beiste from Glee.

I also made Heather pose in the snow for me on Cornelia Street. It’s hard to tell, but the snow was still very much accumulating when this picture was taken! You can (and should!) keep up with Heather by following her on Facebook, Twitter, or checking out her website to read her blog! 

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