The hard work and commitment of many have helped build Gigi Trattoria. We are now one of Rhinebeck’s premiere restaurants and a relevant part of the Hudson Valley local food scene. While many have been involved in the process, there are a few standouts who come to mind, like Nicolas (“Nico”) Vasquez.
Nico began his employment at the Trattoria in October 2001, just one month after the opening. He is not only our most veteran employee but also the one most treasured by me, the staff he works with and especially our customers. All of our loyal “regulars” look for him and feel comforted when they see him in the dining room attending to their tables. It’s getting difficult for him to carry plates because he is constantly shaking the hands of his adoring fans. 🙂 He is shy, but confident and proud of his position and the food and service that Gigi Trattoria is known for. He cares, and it shows.
What everyone doesn’t know is all he does behind the scenes. Nico is not only a stellar food runner, he’s also an amazing prep and line cook, and is incredible at one of the most difficult, high pressure positions in the restaurant – expediting or “EXPO.” In this role he coordinates the timing and “firing” of dishes that might add up to 400-500 in a single shift. I’ve seen many melt down in this role, Nico is always cool, collected and in charge.
I know we have a problem when I see his eyebrows furrow … When Chef Wilson Costa and I need more information about where and why there may be issues, we include Nico in the discourse so that we can correct them expeditiously. He sees all, and with some gentle arm twisting he gives us his very valuable opinion. Of Chef Wilson, Nico tells me, “I like working with him, he’s happy, positive and I respect him.”
When he’s not at the Trattoria, Nico enjoys his daily workouts at IXL (he has a fan base there too), trying new restaurants and cooking at home. His favorite dishes to cook include braised lamb shank, some traditional dishes from his native Oaxaca, Mexico and Italian fare. Nico cooks with soul and passion and its all there on the finished dish.
Restaurant life is tough, fun, rewarding and frustrating. I could not have embarked on my Gigi journey without the help of Nico. In 2003, when I bought out my then husband and partner, I was terrified as to whether I could run a restaurant. The quiet support, hard work, and loyalty of Nico helped me significantly. He says, “Gigi is in my heart forever.” Nico is in mine forever.