Dear Friends of Russ & Daughters,
We are very thankful for the outpouring of concern and support we received from all over the country this past week. We are grateful to report that Russ & Daughters made it through Hurricane Sandy with no damage. Thanks to a combination of luck, advance planning, the efforts of our incredible team, and a miraculously secured generator, we were able to re-open two days before power was returned to Lower Manhattan. We were humbled and blessed to be there for our neighborhood in need.
While things are back to normal at Russ & Daughters, our thoughts go out to all of the communities for whom the devastation has not ended. With this in mind, this Thursday, November 8th, we are teaming up with our friends at Astor Center to co-host a wonderful fundraising event for Hurricane Sandy Relief. We hope to see you there.
Please join us for a casual-but-elegant, self-paced tasting of Russ & Daughters appetizing served with Astor’s classic wines and spirit pairings. With 100% of our ticket sales going to the American Red Cross and to local relief efforts, our goal is to raise $10,000 for Hurricane Sandy relief, one bite of blini and sip of bubbles at a time. Your ticket purchase includes automatic entry into a raffle for items including: an appetizing class for two behind the counter at Russ & Daughters, a private tasting of Astor’s favorite grower-winemaker Champagnes, and more.
Buckwheat Blini, Smoked Trout Mousse, French Trout Roe
Hand Sliced Gaspe Nova Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Corn Rye
Compass Box Scotch Whisky
Smoked Salmon Tartare, Crème Fraiche, Endive
St. Germain Cocktail
Thursday, November 8
At Astor Center (399 Lafayette Street, at East 4th Street New York, NY 10003)
Tickets are $45, and that entire amount will be donated to the Red Cross and to local relief efforts. Tickets can be purchased online: http://www.astorcenternyc.com/class-sandy-support-an-american-red-cross-fundraiser.ac
And, a bit of heartwarming news in the midst of the storm, The New York Times ran a wonderful profile of our very own, Chhapte Sherpa, “The Lox Sherpa of Russ & Daughters.” It’s been one of the most shared stories so far this week. We hope that it will bring a smile to you too. You can read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/nyregion/the-lox-sherpa-of-russ-daughters.html?src=me&ref=general
With lox of love,
from the Russ family and the entire Russ & Daughters crew.
Character Study: The Lox Sherpa of Russ & Daughters.
By Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times.
When Russ & Daughters, the popular lox purveyor on Houston Street, Chhapte Sherpa, an assistant manager there, was a first responder in saving the salmon. Each day he found ways to make it to work from his apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. When the power went down, he helped pack caviar to be stored in backup refrigerators in Brooklyn. He helped move the lox with ice into crates, and helped set up a generator to keep the refrigerators running.threatened to cut power to
And as the days wore on, he remained unfazed by the power failure.
“I never even know what electricity was, never saw it, until I was in my 20s,” said Mr. Sherpa, 39, who grew up in a tiny village in the eastern Himalayas. “I never saw a car or a television growing up.”
Mr. Sherpa, who has worked the past decade at the store and has become known as Sherpa Lox and as something of an attraction at the shop, is not your stereotypical Lower East Side lox-slicer.
“He’s the Sherpa who speaks Yiddish,” said Niki Russ Federman, who along with Joshua Russ Tupper is one of the store’s fourth-generation proprietors. “If he’s serving a young man, he might say, ‘Boychik what do you want?’ ”
Mr. Sherpa, as his last name implies, belongs to the renowned tribe of mountain people known for helping adventurers up Mount Everest, and this is exactly what Mr. Sherpa did in his youth.
“The two jobs are not really different,” he said of climbing versus fish-slicing. “Both involve helping people.”
Working at the store, which reopened on Thursday, is “not as dangerous as climbing in the Himalayas, of course, but it still requires endurance,” he said.
This was evident that afternoon, when the store had two large bags of food and water — a care package — to be delivered to an ill staff member laid-up in his blacked-out apartment where the elevators were not working.
Of course, Mr. Sherpa was tapped to haul the bags up the 24 floors.
“We asked him if we made the bags too heavy,” said Ms. Russ Federman. “He said, ‘Niki, I’ve carried 90 pounds up Mount Everest.’ ”
Mr. Sherpa, whose full name is Chhapte Sherpa Pinasha, said he grew up the youngest of four children in a wooden shack that was a seven-hour walk from the nearest food market.
Through his teens he went barefoot, even in freezing temperatures, he said, but at age 15 he got a pair of flip-flops to take foreigners on treks, and to join his father in carrying sacks of salt over his shoulder on long walks to base-camps for Everest climbers.
A couple from California who were trekking clients financed his study of English in Katmandu. Mr. Sherpa got married there and then in 1996 immigrated to California to work on the couple’s vineyard in the Napa Valley, crushing grapes with his bare feet. He became known as the man who always went barefoot.
He worked as a line chef in Alabama and returned at times to Katmandu, where he and his wife had two children. She is currently raising them there, and Mr. Sherpa hopes to reunite with them one day.
A dozen years ago, he moved to New York. A Chinatown employment agency found him a job at Sable’s smoked fish shop on the Upper East Side. After 18 months he was hired by Russ & Daughters, where he learned how to work quickly during the High Holy Days rush, and picked up some Yiddish from Jose and Herman, two Dominican immigrants who have each worked in the shop for more than 30 years.
They taught him, for example, that a “bissel” of cream cheese was just a light “schmear,” and that all the staff members are “mishpukah” — part of the Russ family.
Most important, they taught him how to cut lox “thin enough to read a newspaper through it,” Mr. Sherpa said. Now, he has his own following of customers, including the film producer Robert Evans, he said. Mr. Evans likes his Nova lox so thin that, as the employees at the shop say, it only has one side.
After growing up on a diet of flour paste, cheese soup and butter tea, Mr. Sherpa now subsists on caviar and pickled herring and wild Baltic salmon. Instead of trekking in flip-flops, he hops the F train to work (when it’s running), and he prefers coffee to butter tea.
“Forget about it,” he said. “You have to start your day with coffee in this city.”
Russ & Daughters is open today! Fourth generation owners, Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper, opened the shop at 9:00 a.m. today, at 179 East Houston Street, on the Lower East Side.
We have fresh bagels, hand-sliced lox, babka, hot coffee, cold water, and space for great conversation, of course. We wish all the best to you and yours and we look forward to seeing you in the shop soon.
Since our power is out, and we’re running on a generator, we have no phone service and limited e-mail access at this time. But we certainly want to hear from you. For the latest updates, please follow us on Tumblr (russanddaughters.tumblr.com), Twitter (twitter.com/LoxPopuli), and Instagram (username: @RussAndDaughters).
Russ & Daughters is open today! Come visit us at 179 East Houston Street, NY NY 10002. We have a small generator, and nearly 100 years of history, and we hope to be open from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. today.
Coming soon, to Russ & Daughters: really delicious cookies made by our friends at Beurre & Sel from Dorie Greenspan. (Visit them in the Essex Street Market!) We’ll let you know when they’re on our shelves too.
“Sesame Sea Salt cookies from The Cocktail Collection”
Bagels, stacked. At Russ & Daughters.
Traditional NYC bagels: hand-rolled, water-boiled. 90 cents each, at Russ & Daughters.
Be part of a holiday tradition. Russ & Daughters is open today from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Come in to the shop, take a number, and we’ll hand-slice everything you need to break-the-fast on Yom Kippur.
Russ & Daughters
Appetizing Since 1914
179 East Houston Street (between Allen Street and Orchard Street)
New York, NY 10002
Follow @russanddaughters on Instagram, and @LoxPopuli on Twitter, for updates throughout the day today and tomorrow, leading up to the holiday.
Russ & Daughters is open today from 9am-8pm. We’re no longer taking pre-orders for the holiday, but come in to the shop and we’ll help you at the counter with everything you need to break the Yom Kippur fast.
And, look at this month’s Martha Stewart Living for a great story about breaking-the-fast at Russ & Daughters and at home with the Russ family.
Follow @russanddaughters on Instagram and @LoxPopuli on Twitter for updates throughout the day today and tomorrow, leading up to the holiday.