Last Night’s Premiere of Chef Documentary Impresses Viewers at Capitol Theatre


Last night at the Capitol Theatre was the world premiere of "Rustbelt Rebels: The Steel Fired Story of Emerging Chef Michael Nowak," a documentary from the good folks at Emerging Chefs. You might remember them from their countless pop-up dinners and fun-filled foodie events, but this was the group’s first foray into film.

The short film is a day in the life of Mike Nowak, the chef and owner of the Black Pig in Ohio City. The documentary proves a wonderful vehicle in which to explore the evolution of a chef, his neighborhood and the Cleveland culinary scene at large.

It is a full day indeed, starting with breakfast at home with the family and ending with a well-deserved after-work drink many, many hours later. In between, we follow the chef as he plans out the day’s specials with his crew, explains those specials to the servers, and tends to the many tasks at hand. The jumps from food discussions to the actual cooking and plating of those dishes is a nice touch, as is the time-lapse footage of the dining room filling up with guests. And like all great food porn, the images make you want to book a reservation at Black Pig yesterday.

“We were in the Black Pig when we came up with the idea of Rustbelt Rebels and Mike literally walked in the door and we said, ‘Let’s start here,’” explains Emerging Chefs co-founder Michael DeAloia. “Two film crews shot 26 hours of footage in one day, which we whittled down to just 24 minutes. It was one day of his life; it was one year of ours.”

The film will be shown next at the Hudson Library & Historical Society at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27. It also will be shown at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in October, and the team is working to get it entered into other film fests, including the Ohio Independent Film Festival and, of course, the Cleveland International Film Fest.

Kickstarter supporters, who pledged $3,988 of the $2,500 goal, will be receiving Blu-ray versions of the film. After the film fest season, the film likely will be made widely available online, says DeAloia.

And the film might not be the last we see from the talented Emerging Chefs team.

“Our goal is for this to be the first in the Rustbelt Rebels: A Day in the Life series,” says DeAloia.

For now, the guys are just thrilled with their first production, and eager to get it before as many viewers as possible.

“Listen, none of us had done a movie before — there was a lot of fumbling, bumbling and stumbling to figure it out,” says DeAloia. “But we’re really proud of how it came out.”

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Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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