If you’ve visited Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market in Greenport within the past three years there’s a good chance you’ve met the social and charismatic Iskender Erey, who goes by his nickname Alex.
To complement your oyster tasting you may have had one of his small open-faced sandwiches, called Smørrebrød,or his homemade Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dips from his corner of Little Creek Oyster’s menu entitled: Alex’s Menu.
As he mingles and strikes up conversation with patrons, Alex talks food with such passion that you might assume he’s spent most of his years in the food industry, but that is where you’re wrong.
“I used to be a sad and dull banker, and now, I’m a happy sandwich maker,” laughed Alex as we chat over coffee.
Speaking with Alex it’s obvious that he’s lived a full life — and has enjoyed everything that he’s done. When he was just 17 and living in Greece, Alex began working in the shipping industry, a job he loved. His career in that industry grew; he became an executive, and decided to move to the United States to “conquer the world.”
Alex came to New York when was 34, exactly when shipping tanked, pun intended. He worked odd jobs in the meantime before landing the position at Citibank that launched his successful banking career.
He discovered the North Fork after meeting a client for a business lunch in Greenport. As he sat enjoying his meal of grilled bluefish, Alex fell in love with the coastal surrounding.
“I come from a sea culture… I always lived by the sea, on the sea and had boats and so I said, ‘I must come back here,’” he recalled.
One year later, he bought a home in Greenport that he would visit every weekend. In the years following, after marrying and raising a family in New York City, he and his wife made a full-time move to the North Fork and settled in East Marion.
“We keep a small apartment in New York and I go back weekly to water the plants,” Alex said.
His weekly trips into the city not only include watering plants but also shopping for goods and provisions that he uses in his highly curated menu at Little Creek Oysters.
In his unofficial role as “Smørrebrød maker,” Alex creates and prepares handmade items such as small open-faced sandwiches that vary day-to-day but often include options such as smoked salmon, sheep’s milk Manchengo, or Pastirma, a Turkish cured beef. Alex’s Menu also offers homemade dips and pates — the olive tapenade is exceptionally standout.
Food prep space at Little Creek Oysters is limited, there’s no kitchen. Alex makes the most of the cozy seaside seafood shack, working with about 40-inches of counterpace, a little refrigerator and some coolers.
Along with his menu items, Alex dishes out the charm. I tell him this and he laughs then replies, “I enjoy contact and connecting with people. I don’t know if that’s charismatic or charming but I truly enjoy people.”
When asked why he does what he does at Little Creek Alex explains his philosophy, “Food brings people together over a shared pleasure. It’s a communion. And that’s my philosophy in approaching what I do. I love the experience of being in touch with people at a very intimate level.”
The enjoyment Alex gets from his role as Smørrebrød maker shows. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Alex while visiting Little Creek Oysters we highly recommend that you do. We’re certain Alex’s infectious charisma will make your day.
Author Michelina Da Fonte is an associate content director for Times Review Media Group, involved in planning and producing lifestyle content for northforker.com, northforker magazine and the northforker podcast. Send her your feedback and story ideas at [email protected].