Baron Ambrosia pushes off from the mainland
By Adam Wisnieski
Baron Ambrosia was banished from the Bronx last week. But he’ll be back.
The alter ego of Riverdalian Justin Fornal, 34, who wears vibrant and colorful suits and who has been the intrepid host of BronxNet’s quirky-to-say-the-least Bronx Flavor since 2008, now has a national audience.
The local show, an unusual mishmash of cinema and travel show with choppy, fast cinematography and comedic writing, earned Mr. Fornal two New York Emmy awards and even the distinct honor of Culinary Ambassador of the Bronx.
It also got the attention of the Cooking Channel, which began airing “The Culinary Adventures of Baron Ambrosia,” on June 1.
The first episode’s storyline involves Mr. Fornal being accused of stealing pies and competing in a pull-up contest against legendary Bronx rapper Mele Mel. Baron agrees that if he loses, he will be banished from the Bronx.
To gain strength for the competition, he travels to Newark, N.J. to eat Trinidadian curry goat, hot dogs and Jersey Devil fajitas. It is then that he realizes that there is a world outside the mainland. When he returns, he decides to accept his banishment and to begin on his search for “unsung heroes of culinary excellence” in cities across the country.
“Today I ventured outside the creature comforts of my home borough and found a world full of mystery, passion and most importantly, flavor … I accept my banishment from this primrose path that we call the Bronx with open arms,” he said.
After launching a successful food Podcast on iTunes, BronxNet picked up his show in 2008 and he dug into the borough to find some of the best spots to eat, including Lloyd’s Carrot Cake and Liebman’s Kosher Deli in Riverdale.
Much like the 34 episodes of “Bronx Flavor,” which Mr. Fornal wrote, produced and acted in, the new show is centered around Baron Ambrosia searching out authentic ethnic dishes in unusual places. Mr. Fornal crafts a story around whatever dish he’s investigating.
“Where I had 34 episodes to tell the story of the Bronx, we gave one episode to tell the stories of each different city,” he said.