Michael Nowak is the chef/owner of the highly regarded Black Pig restaurant in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. He focuses on contemporary dishes rooted in classic French and Italian cuisine, with a strong emphasis on sourcing the best local ingredients. He lives with his wife, Karrie and their children—Payson, Oliver and Colette—and dogs, Sam, Molly and Waldo.
1. One thing you don’t know about me is that I excelled at science and wanted to be an ecologist, live in the woods and study ecosystems.
2. If I could trade places with one person it would be Francis Mallmann (a renowned Argentine chef). I can’t remember the last time I was as excited to watch someone roast whole animals or use fire.
3. If there were no cheese or bread, I’d have no reason to live. Both are having a fight in my head right now.
4. My go-to drink is Champagne, especially rich, yeasty ones.
5. If I were on death row my last meal would be ham salad, like the ground deli spread, on white bread, a Caesar salad with extra croutons and a bag of Reese’s miniatures.
6. If I could change one thing about me it would be my procrastination and poor time management.
7. My favorite junk food is Reese’s peanut butter cups, though Oreos are a close second.
8. If I wasn’t a restaurant operator, I’d love to be a stay-at-home dad.
9. If I could have a meal with anyone living or dead, it would be with my grandfathers. Both had profound influences on me, but never had a chance to eat my food.
10. I would make them frisee and lardon salad, a simple pasta dish and braised meat with lentils.