Co-Artistic Director of MCC Theater, Bernie Telsey has lived in Hell’s Kitchen since 1980 — “It’s in the middle of everything,” he says. This is Bernie’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I was born in Elmont, Long Island and sort of reborn in Hell’s Kitchen as an NYU student in 1980. I started living in my first apartment on 45th Street between 9&10th Avenue and then moved one long block to 44th Street, where I’ve remained since 1990.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
I started as a casting assistant at Simon & Kumin Casting, where I learned everything I know from Meg and Fran. Now I lead my own casting office (The Telsey Office) and I’m also the co-Artistic Director of MCC Theater on W52nd Street.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
The minute it takes to order and receive a slice of pizza at any time of day in NYC.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen is in the middle of everything and so close to my work on and off-Broadway. It’s an eclectic neighborhood and it’s been a wonder to watch it grow over the decades into a destination in the city. When I first lived here you NEVER went to 10th Avenue, now it’s the place to be.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
Shopping for others.
What else should we know about you?
I have a beautiful wife, Anne, and two grown sons, Danny and Felix, who spent their formative years in Hell’s Kitchen.
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Bernie’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
MCC Theater — 511 W52nd Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
So I’m biased towards my own theater company. For decades now, we’ve been a home for storytelling that provokes conversations that haven’t happened, and otherwise, never would. We’re also a training ground for young artists. Speaking of, come and see our current production of Bees & Honey by Guadalís Del Carmen.
Domus — 413 W44th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
I can always find something that I love or I know someone I know will love. I also like knowing that Nicki and Luisa find items overseas, many from far flung destinations that I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to. It makes shopping there that much more special.
Ardesia — 510 W52nd Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
Ardesia has great wine and bites. It’s a mainstay for myself and my staff and a great hang after seeing a show at MCC Theater (I know! I’m shameless!!!). Order the hot pretzels and deviled eggs. You’ll thank me! Mandy and Jordan who run the restaurant are stars.
Afficionado — 750 11th Avenue (bw W52/53rd St)
The roast on their coffee is perfection. Everyone in my office is obsessed with their cold brew and they serve macadamia nut milk. Delicious! I especially like getting there at 8am when they first open and talking with their friendly and engaging employees.
Orso — 322 W46th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
I often see multiple Broadway shows a week and this is my favorite spot for a pre- or post-theater dinner. The roasted chicken is a favorite. The staff is delightful and hospitable. And a shout-out to Kevin their maitre d’ who always makes it feel like home. It’s my family’s favorite spot
44&10 — 622 10th Avenue (corner of W44th St)
They have the best macaroni and cheese in town. Full stop.
Stylish Ten Nail Spa Salon — 661 10th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
Funnily, this is a place my whole family likes to go to together. The Telsey/Marinos are a collective fan of this shop. They also have great massage chairs.
My neighbors’ apartment (Richard and Laura)
There’s nothing more fun than them coming down to our place or us going up to theirs. It’s a real Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel dynamic. They’re the best, but I’m gatekeeping the location so it doesn’t get too crowded.
If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form — w42st.info/WSSnominations. You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.