We’ve all been there. After a long shift and what seems like endless hours of mixing cocktails and smiling across the bar you crash on the couch and catch another episode of your favorite chef-bartender-server-becomes-celebrity-host and yearn for your own lights-camera-action moment.
The Food Reality Television Series category is huge and these days it’s no surprise that viewers are turning to this genre for a little “escape” from reality. So herein lies the question—how do you get from behind the bar to in front of the camera?
There is no one single path, but in a recent chat with Chef Nick Liberato, restauranteur, producer and host of Restaurants on The Edge we are given an insight into how this Pennsylvania native combined his dream of acting and love of food into a television career. An eternal optimist and go-getter, he provides a few tools and tips to hone in on and give yourself that needed edge to get started.
Nick grew up in a large Italian family where food took center stage and permeates everything he does. When he left his hometown for the glittering California coast his feet were grounded in the sand as he set out to create his current dream job. “Travel around the world, cook and help rescue distressed assets” all while storytelling through Restaurants on the Edge. “I like to entertain people” says Nick, who knows his biggest asset is to be himself and show he’s a person that cares.
What began as a part time gig at a run-down beach bar in Venice Beach lead him to launch his own catering company, Calidelphia, preparing meals for actors and celebrities. As the business began to thrive and he acquired the long-time Venice fixture, the Venice Whaler, he followed this turnaround success with the famous Los Angeles hot spot The Pier House. All the while, this not-so subtle tv-personality in waiting, took acting classes, went to casting calls and pitched cooking shows. few chance encounters later, or maybe his persistently outgoing and welcoming demeanor, led to a series of encounters that would put him in front of the camera ranging in guest appearances on Home & Family and Top Chef Masters to more prominent roles on Bar Rescue and the current Netflix show, Restaurants on the Edge.
Restaurants on the Edge, is the ultimate “feel good” reality show where we get to watch Nick and his three industry colleagues help save flailing restaurants set against spectacular backgrounds in far off locations. In its second season, the show brings some much-needed positivity into people’s homes during this unprecedented time that is challenging for so many.
Nick’s success is built on hard work, and maybe a few acting classes, but if you ask Nick his true training is from the dining room, comparing a restaurant to a theater where you “create an experience for guests.” So next time you find yourself daydreaming, take note of the following tried and true tips from someone who’s worked his way into the spotlight.
Build Your Online Presence. If you are going to make it big, you need to know who you are selling. Develop your personal brand and build a strong online footprint that includes not only a social media presence with engaging followers, but also an Electronic Press Kit. (EPK) The EPK is your calling card for casting agents and should include a bio, recipes, along with any and all projects and competitions you’ve worked on. The power of media is amazing, so any press you can build for yourself is key.
Be Able to Drive Content. It’s not enough to be able to make a mean Martini with that vodka you are a brand ambassador for. Create content and pitch it to whomever will listen. Outlets are always looking for good and engaging content so don’t be shy and put it out there. You never know who’s watching.
Take any and all chances. Be ok starting in the background and get involved with as many different projects you can in whatever capacity that is available. No one wants to do the grunt work behind the scenes but getting your foot in the door is the first step.
Build a product that can be sold. Whether it’s a recipe, a new technique or an actual physical product you have developed, having something that can be presented and sold is often the difference between a conversation and an interview.
Hustle. Nothing is going to be handed to you and when rejection comes, and it will come, believe in your dream and just keep going. And whatever you do, don’t let ego get in your way.
Today Nick is back in Philadelphia with his new, young family and while there may be a Season 3 of Restaurants in the Edge in the future he’s staying true to his personal brand as the turnaround guy, and recently launched a new restaurant group and consulting firm.
618 Hospitality Group was birthed during the Covid pandemic and Nick and his partner, Mike Dalewitz, are setting out to make people feel better about themselves, understand why they are in the business and how they can succeed. As he continues to acquire, consult and invigorate businesses Nick is proof that if you focus on the positive things good things will happen.