Article by Fitz
Lead photo of Michael Curtis by Fitz
If you are into local food, under 35, have an active instagram account and reside in Hampton Roads, you likely know who Jarrell Williams is. If you don’t know who he is then you’re lying about one of the above qualifiers. Williams, founder of the local food and culture promotion entity, Nomarama, kicked off a cooler type of Hampton Roads food competition with the Nomarama Burger Battle in January of 2016. He has also facilitated a myriad of kitchen takeover events, hosted and co-produced perhaps the best independent local food documentary short, and soon he will contribute to The Virginian Pilot’s Distinction Magazine. This article is not about the public and prolific Williams however; it’s about the young man beside him who helped make all that possible, one Michael Curtis.
Three years ago when Nomarama was originally conceived as a food pop-up for Williams’ cooking, Curtis facilitated the first one at a pho restaurant. Soon after, when Williams realized his cooking was only but so good, Nomarama’s focus shifted to providing a platform for local independent chefs and businesses. Curtis would have his hands in much of the logistics for the events in the following years-from setting up tables and grills at burger battles, to producing creative content for the brand after original videographer, Chris Conway’s departure.
At Williams’ side always, and proving himself as essential in helping to further Nomarama’s mission of cultivating “local love”, Curtis would come on full time to the operation in late 2016. Curtis’ organic feel to video and photography was born out of his years as a skateboarder in Norfolk where he fell in love with those mediums documenting that lifestyle. From storyboarded full fledged video productions to capturing spontaneous moments for Nomarama, Curtis, at the age of 31, also pulls from his time documenting the Hampton Roads music scene, primarily the metal and rock genres and his reverence for the exploits of lauded hipster Chef Matty Matheson of Parts and Labour fame.
Curtis, now involved in executive decisions at Nomarama, sees the brand’s future moving in part towards either “a syndicated show or a Netflix deal.” As he helps Williams navigate towards those and other goals for Nomarama’s future, keeping it’s prolific founder grounded may be his most important contribution. “Often I help Jarrell stay grounded and focused to what’s possible now,” Curtis explained. “He’s got so many great ideas, and I often see my role as helping him stay realistic as we continue to grow.” By William’s side, Curtis has, and unquestionably will, be an integral part in Nomarama’s practical expansion. As Williams put it, “Nomarama is cool, but couldn’t be as cool without him.”
For more on Nomarama visit: www.nomarama.org