The Work We Do: Filleting fish (and more!) with Keith Reda at Braun Seafood

My name is Keith Reda of Braun Seafood Company in Cutchogue.

I started working at Braun Seafood when I was 15 years old, in the summer of that school year and on and off since then. So about 30 years now.

I think the biggest draw is just the area. I love the East End of Long Island; I think it’s one of the greatest places.

As far as Braun Seafood, I love the diversity of it. Meeting all the people and dealing with the products, I really enjoy that from a “foodie” standpoint. I enjoy working with the chefs and learning.

Every day is like a new experience. You’re learning something new or educating someone else who’s coming up through the ranks.

We start usually around 6 a.m., or at least I do, and work until the work is done. My average day is, first thing in the morning we go through our messages from the night before. We talk to the salesmen about what’s going on for their day and try and get their stuff organized. And then proceed downstairs to the warehouse, and we pick orders, we cut fish, working in the freezer, putting up lobsters. It can be hectic sometimes. Most restaurants call first thing in the morning; a lot of them call the night before, but some of them call last-minute, so it can be crazy in the morning here.

We ship a lot of fish here. Last month, for instance, we moved about 100,000 pounds of fish into Fulton Fish Market from the local fishermen here, which is one of the great things about Braun Seafood. We have that fresh fish coming in from the local guys, and then we can kind of go through it and say, “Hey, we really like the way that looks. We’d like to get some of those black sea bass or blackfish.” The rest is packing a lot of fish and making sure it gets to the right people in the city for the fishermen.

It’s a good thing. We get to see the fishermen every day, weather permitting, and it keeps us extremely busy, especially in the morning. The fishermen are usually very early risers, so we also have to be, here, and get the work done.

Being here for so long, I wear many hats. I work up in the fish market sometimes, helping whoever needs help up there. I point them in the right direction, as far as which fish to use, sometimes picking fish out for them. For someone in the back that might be cutting fish, I make sure they’re putting the best stuff that we have up in the fish market. Also I help all the salesmen with their routes, moving product around. Sometimes it might be just sweeping the floor up, so someone doesn’t walk through a mess of stuff on the floor.

When you’re trying to keep the place organized and running well, you have to do a little bit of everything.

‘The Work We Do’ is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. Read it first, watch the video here and see more photos every Monday on Instagram, @thesuffolktimes.