Seafood is not a cuisine typically associated with acclaimed butchers Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest, who co-owned White Gold, the now defunct whole-animal butchery-cum-restaurant on the Upper West Side. “While we love meat, we’ve always been such strong believers in the fact that it’s more of a condiment,” says Nakamura, who’s worked behind butcher counters for over a decade. “I have so many moments where I’m sitting around just dreaming up all these incredible seafood dishes. I really, really wish that there was a space for me to do that and have people appreciate it without being like Whoa, look at this butcher cook a fish.”
The couple will have the space to realize some of those dishes, like a red prawn crudo, at The Standard, East Village this Fall. The dinner, which will also feature meat dishes and rosé pairings, is an homage to self-care, inspired by a trip they took to Sicily last summer for a friend’s wedding. After toiling under the demands of the service industry, it was their first real vacation in ten years. “Especially in our industry, self-care is something that falls by the wayside,” says Guest, a 2019 recipient of the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership scholarship from the James Beard Foundation. “Since leaving White Gold last year, we’ve really been trying to reinvent our home within the food industry and what that looks like. We’re a lot less willing to work a 20-hour day seven days a week.”
It’s been a year of major life changes: the two married, gave birth to their first child, moved north of the city, to Westchester, and launched J&E SmallGoods, their line of organic, locally sourced packaged sausages (motto: “A Mom & Mom Shop”). The Standard caught up with the couple to talk about all of this and more.