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Monday, January 10, 2011

Interview: Emerging Chefs Founder Michael DeAloia

Posted By on Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 12:20 PM

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Multi-disciplinary entrepreneur Michael DeAloia has his paws in many pots, but it was his Emerging Cleveland series, held recurrently at the City Club of Cleveland, that provided the germ for his latest brainstorm. Past topics have included Emerging Female Entrepreneurship and Emerging Technology, but the Emerging Chefs event blew them all away in terms of response.

"It was the most popular event we ever did under the Emerging Cleveland banner," says DeAloia. "I thought there has to be a business model here somewhere."

So, DeAloia joined ranks with Rick Turner from Event Source (eventsource.net) and David Moss of MossMedia (mossmedia.pro) to fashion his entrepreneurial dream team. The trio launched the for-profit Emerging Chefs brand last fall.

"It's the perfect blend of talent," says DeAloia. "Rick brings big-event experience and access to equipment and supplies. Dave is expert at marketing and promotion. Plus, we are all huge food fans."

Held monthly, the food-and-booze events seek to highlight the work of Cleveland's up-and-coming chefs — the folks who may not be getting attention commensurate with their talent.

"Our goal is to generate buzz around Cleveland's emerging chefs," he adds. "We try and target chefs who are still on their way up, or who have been around for a while and do quality work but may not be garnering a lot of attention. Not necessarily other-worldly talents like the Michael Symons and Zack Bruells."

These somewhat intimate events offer guests the opportunity to enjoy not only world-class cuisine, but also unparalleled access to chefs. Participating talent thus far has included Dim and Den Sum's Chris Hodgson and Bar Cento's Mike Nowak. Next up are Matthew Mytro and Jeff Fisher.

"Chefs are the new rock stars," DeAloia acknowledges. "People get really excited for the chance to meet the chefs and talk to them. And these events allow more personal attention than a restaurant setting."

And as with a restaurant setting, equal thought is given to the event surroundings. The first event took place on a cordoned-off city street, while the second was held in the subterranean hangout Speakeasy. But it's the third event, hosted in the exclusive backroom of Velvet Tango Room, that has many foodies drooling with anticipation. Access will only be granted to those possessing a “secret password.”

"A lot of people bought tickets just so they could hang out in the semi-private backroom," notes DeAloia. "I think that's what sets us apart from other events. We believe that the food is an experiential thing and so the environment should be too. We want to engage people's five senses when they attend an event."

Along those lines, the February event is slated to take place in a church. The working title? Sacrilicious.

Find more info on Emerging Chefs here: http://www.emergingchefs.com/. The event at the Velvet Tango Room is sold out.

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