Anna Pakman runs digital for “I LOVE NY” and the state economic development agency and moonlights as an independent film producer. She’s lived in Hell’s Kitchen for nearly 20 years. This is Anna’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I’ve lived in NYC since the age of four, and nearly 20 of those years have been here in Hell’s Kitchen.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job ever was as a webmaster for a non-profit organization that offered recreational opportunities for kids with disabilities. Now I run digital for “I LOVE NY” and the state economic development agency and moonlight as an independent film producer. I’ve been making short films for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge for the past four years, and my latest, a rom-com called Cripfished was just released.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
The diversity. I love being able to interact with people from all around the world without venturing far from my front door.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
We have an incredible food scene here! Even in the time I’ve lived here, I still haven’t had a chance to try everything.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
Making people laugh.
What else should we know about you?
My latest film Cripfished can be viewed at http://bit.ly/cripfished. It’s the 10th Anniversary of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge and their mission really aligns with my desire to show the world how talented people with disabilities are both in front of and behind the camera. While people with disabilities make up 25% of the population, less than 5% of the characters you see on TV are portrayed by disabled actors. In my film, both of the leads have the same disabilities as their characters do. Additionally, three of the four supporting actresses are disabled.
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Anna’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Bird & Branch — 359 W45th Street (bw 8th/10th Ave)
I love their creative coffee drinks, and the brownies are to die for. I also appreciate how socially responsible they are and the fact that they have a ramp to get inside and an accessible outdoor patio despite some architectural challenges for wheelchair access.
The Marshal — 628 10th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
Being high risk for COVID-19, indoor dining is pretty much off limits for me. I really appreciate The Marshal’s commitment to heated outdoor dining that isn’t in an enclosed shack. The food is all phenomenal and I highly recommend their smoked duck pizza and the burrata app. Plus Charlie and team are the nicest.
Beaupierre — 664 10th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
Great things come in tiny packages! Yannick and Heidi are some of the most passionate wine experts I’ve ever met and will help you pick the best wine for your tastes and budget. I love that they carry a lot of wines from independent vineyards doing innovative things that you won’t find everywhere. Also it’s completely accessible because, like me, Yannick uses a wheelchair.
Claudio’s Pizza — 598 10th Avenue (bw W43/44th St)
When you need a classic no-frills NY slice, no one does it better than Claudio.
Kings of Kobe — 650 W42nd Street (bw 11th/12th Ave)
Best burgers in NYC and excellent accessibility throughout the restaurant.
Little Pie Company — 424 W43rd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
The pies are so good, it’s dangerous having it so close by. I really appreciate the seasonal outdoor patio and whimsical window displays. If you haven’t tried their old fashioned apple pie, you haven’t had apple pie. But the seasonal strawberry rhubarb is my true favorite.
Tony Kiser Theater — 305 W43rd Street (bw 8th/9th St)
Great facility to discover excellent Off-Broadway theater in a spacious, airy facility. I really appreciate that they still require masks at one performance a week, it’s an accommodation that is so necessary to keep theater accessible for all people.
Hold Fast — 364 W46th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
The best quality to price ratio you’ll find in NYC.
Valla Table — 641 10th Avenue (bw W45/46th St)
Hell’s Kitchen has so much good Thai food. Valla is my go-to for their delicious, yet affordable cuisine.
Gotham West Market — 600 11th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
Great low-key food hall! Love that you can get Corner Slice (best square pizza in the game) wagyu sandwiches and really good sushi under one roof. Spacious, well-ventilated, totally wheelchair accessible and has heated outdoor seating to boot.
You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.