interview condensed and edited by EJ Toudt
Explain the name, @Nomarama.
Nomarama is actually just a fun thing to say. The name came about at my parents’ house (with) one of my best friends, Lance . We used to have Friday night burger nights and local beer, and I said, “You know, what I really want to do is do this regularly where I find beer and try recipes and whatnot.” And Lance goes, “Well, what are you going to call it? Nomarama or something?” That’s kinda where it started.
Do you consider yourself a food critic or food writer?
I am not a critic (laughs), and (I’m) not a food writer either. I do write occasionally. I consider myself a food encourager or food appreciator. I try all kinds of food. I may or may not like it, but I still recommend and encourage you to try it yourself because you have different tastes than I do. So, no matter what, always try it out because you never know.
When did you first start doing this?
I started Nomarama, I want to say, on paper in 2011. But probably before that, actually; it was more of a hobby of mine. I moved here in ‘06. I fell in love with the area and just started finding all these restaurants and people were saying to me, “This area sucks. It’s boring, there’s no food.” I said, “Uh, there are seven cities here. If you can’t find something to do in seven cities, maybe you’re the problem, not the area.”
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Northern Virginia, outside of (Washington), D.C. My parents still live in Fredericksburg. They were military when I was growing up, so I was born in Germany, (then moved) to Fort Belvoir, then Woodbridge to Fredericksburg, then to Norfolk for college.
In your mind, what exactly is Virginia food?
I don’t really think there is a staple food that Virginians can claim, essentially. I don’t know if it’s more of a southern meal or southern item, but we have a lot of pimento cheese. We have soft shell crabs. I’d like to see Virginia become a place where it’s just experience and experimenting. It doesn’t need to be like a set thing, just come here and get an amazing meal or item.AdvertisementPauseUnmuteLoaded: 0%Progress: 0%Remaining Time-0:28Fullscreen
Clearly the millennial generation is embracing the art of food. Why do you think that is?
It became a pop culture thing, honestly. I’ve always been into food, travel, music, and arts. I remember as a kid watching Samantha Brown on the travel channel. She would travel the world and try all the restaurants. While my friends were watching football, I was watching Samantha Brown. I think once things, of course, become pop culture, people gravitate toward them naturally. And who doesn’t like food? We all like a good meal, and you can have a great conversation around a great meal so you can bring your friends, bring your family, you can meet people, and it just works out perfectly. That’s why I liked it so much. It’s the perfect storm.
What food has surprised you?
So there was a restaurant called Home Grown in Portsmouth owned by my friend Nick Hagan. I speak about him all the time because (it) really was one of my favorite restaurants in the area. It was one of the very few places that I would go and anything he made, I was trying it. I trusted his abilities in the kitchen, and I trusted that he’s going to feed me something delicious. We had the family come by one time for dinner. He fed me sweetbreads, and I liked it. It was more like a pâté, kind of similar to a Vienna sausage or something. But yeah, didn’t know I was gonna like it, but I did.
What restaurants in your opinion are hot right now in Hampton Roads and Richmond?
So that’s the thing. When I first started this, I could name like three off the bat, but there’s so many now. It’s insane. I don’t always have a perfect answer. I always kind of shifted around based on what I can think of. So right now the hot restaurants, in my opinion, would probably be Codex in Ghent, Alkaline is another one and third would probably have to be either Hoyt’s Luncheonette or LeGrand. As far as Richmond, I’m into Boca, that’s a good spot there. I love The Veil, they are not a restaurant there, but The Veil is one of my favorite breweries. My wife used to go to Richmond for music all the time and every time we went to Richmond we had to go to Proper Pies. That’s my No. 1 spot. It used to be a The Dog and Pig Show, but they closed up last year.
You’ve thrown an annual slider competition for three years. Your fourth is coming up Saturday, Jan. 19 (with VA Growler as a sponsor, I might add). What can people expect this year?
The same greatness (laughs), with a little extra greatness. We’ve got eight restaurants this year as opposed to six this past year. We’ve got a DJ that’s coming in from out of the area, two DJs actually doing sets, and StarFire Festival, bringing free video game play. It’s just gonna be a lot of fun with games, good food, great music, and great vibes. Just like the third annual times 100.
What restaurants are going to be competing?
We’ve got J&K Style Grill, HK on the Bay, Barrel 17, The Landing, Vicki Vail’s (food truck), Rebellion DC, Smoke BBQ Restaurant and Repeal Bourbon & Burgers.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
People know a lot about me – I’m pretty transparent (laughs). People still find out today that I’ve done modeling. Actually, my entire family’s done modeling. I got into modeling a couple of years ago. I got into commercial stock images, so you may see me in your random advertisements, whether it be for a bank or Ritz Crackers. Matter of fact, if you go to New York today, get on the subway, you’ll see my face on the subway. You go to Kroger today, you’ll see my son and me at Kroger.
What we drank
- O’Connor Brewing’s Shonan Beach Tea Saison
- Belgian Blonde w/Plums