Nantucket Portraits

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Mirabai Perfas

Rob Smith

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm from Red Hook, New york. I moved to Nantucket about eight years ago. I needed the opportunity to work and make money while I figured out what I wanted to do. I worked at Cinco, where I met a lot of people I still know today. And I worked at the UMASS field station with Sarah Oktay, and then did a little bird-watching with the Mass Audubon Society. But all the meanwhile I've worked in restaurants, and I've spent some time traveling as well.

Can you tell us about your new business, Big Hug Dumplings?

It's a mobile food-cart that I sell steamed dumplings out of. They're totally hand-made. I prep all the filling, roll them, steam them, and serve them. I love dumplings, but they're not that avaible at your typical restaurant, so I make them for myself. I had considered starting a food-cart, and everything sort of lined up to do so. Everyone thinks it's a family recipe, but I sort of just did it myself. I really wanted dumplings, and figured that other people might too.

I consider it to be a service. My concept of a business is to provide a product that will enrich someone's life; the money is secondary. What would a business look like if money didn't matter? Would a car-manufacturer provide people with safe, reliable, road-worthy cars if money wasn't an issue? That's my goal: to provide people with quality food, not just to make money.

What's your favorite part about living on Nantucket?

The energy, really... It sits well with me. Every aspect of the community lends itself to a really comfortable environment.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

For now, my most solid vision is to have established a sustainable bed-and-breakfast in the Phillipines, where my parents are from, near the surf... to be able to host workshops, and be surrounded by like-minded people. I want to be able to grow my own food and to surf regularly. I love all this here, on Nantucket... but ultimately I don't think I really want to live in the states. I'm not rushing towards that BNB plan in the Phillipines, but ten years can go by really fast... it's hard to believe that I've already been here for eight years.

Do you have any advice you'd like to give to the readers?

I think that most people don't want to be given advice. I have advice for myself really, and that is to do what I do and really believe in it. And if other people see that, they'll either absorb and digest it, or they'll just move on. But you can't tell people how to do things. You can lead by example. Something will either resonate or it won't.

Humans of Nantucket, modeled after the famous Humans of New York, intends to portray various members of the island community who share with us their lives, dreams and hopes.

Robert Smith is a local landscape and portrait photographer. He will soon begin building a website to feature his work, and will also shortly provide links to his Flickr and Instagram accounts. He can be reached at 508-221-6926