Nomarama was born from a good warm place, and the man behind it all has a sense of real joy in his work. Raised in the suburbs and finding himself loving local food culture, Jarrell Williams started his YouTube channel, Nomarama, in Norfolk seven years ago. Quickly, his online thing grew, opening up opportunities to with local and regional tourism groups in order to aim a spotlight at the amazing culinary scene bubbling up all over Virginia. We could tell you more, but instead, we’ll let him tell you himself.
Ed. Note: We are proud to have Nomarama as a part of RVAMAG TV Season 1. Find more of Nomarama HERE!
R. Anthony Harris: Tell us a little bit about who you are.
Jarrell Williams: My name is Jarrell Williams, and if you ask me, life is good! I’m a father to two beautiful boys, Lennon & Leo, and I navigate through this wild life with my best friend and amazing partner, Heidi Joy. I promote positivity, self worth, and encourage the constant pursuit of happiness. Some call me a foodie, but these days I’m a plug, local love supporter and overall, a lover and adventurer… I am so glad you are here!
RAH: How did you get started making content before this?
JW: Growing up, I was a typical suburban kid. I have always found interest in a lot of things… Not that TV raised me, because my parents were very much around exposing my brother and I to a lot, but I spent a lot of time watching programming that showcased people places and things in someone else’s perspective. Whether it was learning a thing or two from Levar Burton on Reading Rainbow, the adventures of Samantha Brown on Travel Channel or following the OG’s like Bourdain or Fieri, I was always a big fan.
It wasn’t until I left for college and picked up my first camera. Then everywhere I went, my camera went. That later turned into interning and working for a few magazines; that then turned into some stock modeling work. It wasn’t until maybe around 2015, 16 that I came across Vice’s Munchies brand, where the likes of Eddie Huang and Matty Matheson blew my mind with their delivery in how they showcased food, travel, and chef life in their own unique point of view… From that moment, I was hooked.
RAH: How did this project come about?
JW: As they say, nothing happens overnight, and my story is no different. After coming across the work of, [as] previously mentioned, Eddie and Matty, I kind of became obsessed. Digesting everything those cats produced. I even started studying recipes and other chefs. I eventually thought about trying my hand at some of what I was seeing. My first jump was a burger pop up [in 2014] that was going to be Nomarama, but I quickly realized that I’m not a chef.
Instead of being the chef, I still wanted to showcase chefs and their work… hence the storytelling I love so much. This is around when Insta had first taken off, and I was then showcasing the restaurants I had been finding in my travels. To which, Nomarama became sort of a local’s food guide in the 757. That snowballed into my first annual Nomarama Slider Competition, to then releasing my first ever episode of “This is Nomarama” on YouTube back in 2015. From that point on, I knew this was it for me. I loved food, I loved traveling culinarily, and loved being able to provide chefs a platform to talk their shit! Other projects came before this one … many wins, some flops, but all valuable lessons that brought me to this point. And I’m loving every minute of it. 🙌🏾
RAH: What has been the best part of making this stuff?
JW: The best part is and will always be providing chefs/restaurants/creators that platform to talk about what they love and do. Oftentimes when I roll in solo or with a crew, my person of interest will claim to be shy, or no good on camera, but it’s always so fun to see them get excited and open up when they are able to talk about things they are passionate about. It brings my heart so much joy!
RAH: What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
JW: First things first is to finish the summer. Heidi Joy, the boys, and I been racking up miles on the Prius. Hitting the road, visiting different cities in and around VA, collecting National and State park stamps… just really showing the boys what “work” can look like, as well as the beauty and adventure that is always out there.
Come the fall, as the great Nipsey Hustle said, “The marathon continues!” More cities, more states, and continuing to spread this local love wherever we find ourselves!