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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chatting With Michael Schwartz

Demonstrating how to make ricotta cheese aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.

Michael Schwartz. The man. The chef. The empire (chefpire?). It seems like every other week we hear of something new going on with our guy in the Design District. A new pizza place, cheffing aboard cruise ships and pretty soon helming the kitchen at the Raleigh. How does he do it? Oh, and did you know he's got a TV pilot in the works? A few q's with the busy man, below:

APD: With all the recent developments how have you been able to focus and how do you divide your time now?

MS:It's not easy, especially since I like to be involved in all the details.There are definitely more meetings and sometimes I feel like a ping pong ball. But we keep a great calendar, which itself is its own monster, and things are divided up and scheduled to a t. But I guess the real answer to your question is my team. I have surrounded myself with great people that make it all possible, and we just try to keep up with it all.

APD: What are you most excited about for the coming year?
MS: Some great news is that after a year of making and trying to sell a TV pilot to cable, with all the ups and downs that go along with that, we found a home on public television. It's called The Local Table, it's a food/travel show that highlights slow food and the people behind the small, family businesses that produce the food that feeds our communities around the country. It's about sourcing what's seasonal and cooking with the freshest, local ingredients. PBS just gave us the green light, with WLRN onboard as our presenting station to national, and sponsors are showing interest. It goes to show how when you keep at something you believe in, things will work out. We wanted to make our show the way we want it to be without bending to please a certain demographic or get certain ratings, and PBS will make that possible. I'm really excited for the chance to work more on that. We'll shoot in the spring of 2012, for a first season airing in the fall.

APD: Any other projects in the pipeline or is this it for a while?
MS: We're always looking ahead and are open to new partnerships that can become new projects or business opportunities... It's always a challenge trying to balance it all and still participate in the great charity events and food festivals I get asked to do. Those are really great... While they are more one-time things, I get a chance to have fun and catch up with some of my friends in the industry. I've had to bow out of some of those lately which is a bummer, but I was able to give Hedy an opportunity to take some of those on, with is great fun and great exposure for her. So I guess it all works out. For me, for the coming year, I'd have to say the Raleigh is top of mind, as is the new relationship with Royal Caribbean, and making sure Harry's and MGFD stay on the ball and have longevity. I thought nothing could top 2010, but this year was unreal. I can only imagine what 2012 will bring!

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