Last Monday marked the first annual Food Day, a celebration of the people and places behind the food on your plate. At the New York Food Manufacturers Expo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the crowd, a mix of artisanal producers, brokers and independent retailers. He highlighted the importance of food as an economic engine. “Last year,” said Bloomberg, “the food processing industry generated $5 billion in New York City.” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn continued, “The best way to end hunger is to give someone a job that allows him to feed himself and his family well.” In fact, the food manufacturing industry in NYC supports 19,000 jobs, 70% of which are held by immigrants.
As it so happened, it was my first day on the job at an immigrant-founded business. My name is Crystal Cun, and I am the new Business Development and Communications Coordinator at Element Seafood. I hail from a family of immigrant restaurateurs, and I am intimately familiar with the headaches and joys of running a small business. When I met with Nellie Wu, Element’s General Manager, and heard her family’s story about building the company, I was blown away by the familiar cadence of determination, grit, and finally, achievement in a new land. It shows that the American dream takes many shapes, yet in many ways is universal. I’m proud to be joining a dedicated team of ostreaphiles and seafood lovers, people who have been in the business for over 25 years, yet operate with the integrity and community that can only be found in a family-run business.
In the past, I have worn many hats. I’ve worked in economics research at the Federal Reserve, spent a year studying in Italy at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, and coordinated distribution for an indie documentary about sustainable agriculture called FRESH. Luckily, Nellie read through my tapas menu of a resume, and knew that my varied skills and avid love of food would feel right at home at Element.
In the coming months, I look forward to connecting with you, oyster and seafood fans, in New York and beyond. I’ll be the primary writer for this blog, and will also send updates on our Twitter and Facebook channels. Future topics will include information on oyster varieties, seafood recipes, and peeks at the behind the scenes action at Element Seafood. If you have further suggestions, please comment below! I can’t wait to share our passion and expertise in seafood, and as well as hear your stories. Here’s to a briny future.