Meet the host of WHYY’s new ‘Movers & Makers’ program

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Andrew Erace is the host of

Andrew Erace is the host of "Movers & Makers," a program that will debut Thursday on WHYY-TV at 9 p.m. (Beck Photography)

So many creative people are making an impact in our communities.  Each week, our new TV show “Movers & Makers” will introduce you to some of them.

“Movers & Makers” premieres Thursday night at 9 on WHYY-TV.  Host Andrew Erace joined Morning Edition host Jennifer Lynn to talk about this original production.

Congratulations on being a big part of something brand new, Andrew. 

Thank you.

I know you’re no stranger to time in front of the camera.  Your passion for local food and the local food movement has led you to open a boutique food market in the area, and that led you to co-host the Food Network’s show “Great American Food Finds.” Very nice.  What was that like for you?

It was a super exciting time for us. The support that we had from family and friends … the city and strangers was really humbling, but it was also a big learning experience as well. It made me realize that if I wanted to pursue a career in television, I wanted it to be on the local level. So this WHYY opportunity just fit me perfectly. We’re just pulling back the curtain, showing the region, what we have here in terms of people and places that you might not know about.

It really looks at lives and livelihoods … and we have some clips from “Movers & Makers.” In this one, we meet the owners of Puyero, a Venezuelan restaurant on South Street, Gilberto Arends and Manuela Villasmil. We learn about their concern for Venezuela, which is going through an uprising, and get a feel for what their restaurant brings to the Philadelphia food scene.

“Things are very, very bad. There are millions of people leaving Venezuela, so we feel that opening Puyero we become a home to some of the Venezuelans who leave and live here in Philly,” says Gilberto. “It’s a place where they can reconnect with some of our roots.”

“When you are away from home, one of the things that you miss the most is the food other than your family and friends, obviously,” says Manuela. “And I think we didn’t know at the moment that there were so many Venezuelans here. They’re a little bit emotional or sentimental when they eat the food, and they remember being back home.”

So, yes, there’s hardship at home, but this is a story about energy and tradition that is fueling this business.

And what’s awesome about these owners is they really can channel their love and passion of tradition and culture through their food at Puyero Restaurant.

Let’s meet someone else who will be on an upcoming episode of “Movers & Makers,” Rina Banerjee.

Yes, Rina!  She’s an internationally renowned artist who’s currently exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This is a mid-career retrospective, and she sources all these incredible materials from all over the world to create these installations and sculptures that are just amazing.

First we hear Rina Banerjee, whose exhibit is called “Make Me a Summary of the World,” and then we hear from PAFA curator Jodi Throckmorton.

“The title reaches to a past where global expansionism was part of the romance of country and home and nationalism,” says Rina.

“One of the things that I think is really fascinating about her work is the Venus’s-flytrap effect. People are attracted to the feathers and the beautiful colors, and then they get to look a little closer, and they start to realize that she’s talking about very serious issues like globalism and its relationship with colonialism … feminism, gender and sexuality,” says Throckmorton. “A lot of things and issues that this country and the world are talking about right now.”

I like that. It’s a wonderful piece, taking us closer and closer to things.

Definitely, and I think that in this exhibit you really get to understand Rina and what her family has experienced, so I definitely recommend going to check it out.

Andrew, on “Movers & Makers” you’ll explore Philadelphia’s many creative hubs. In one episode, you take us to the Bok Building, a former technical school-turned-creative entrepreneurial hub.

Yes, so there’s restaurants, there’s workshops, there’s studios, but on this segment, we profile a philanthropist. Sarun Chan runs SecondNatureStudios, which provides pro bono development services to the Southeast Asian community of Philly.

“It really has lifted my spirits and my soul, because, at the end of the day, we all admire superheroes, right?” says Chan. “And if you know anything about superheroes, they have their own day job. So Batman is a millionaire. I’m not a millionaire. Iron Man is a science tech person. Spider-Man is a pizza delivery boy. But the one thing that they have in common is they contribute back to society by helping others.”

Oh, the metaphor. That’s fantastic. What do you hope it will be like visually and narratively for viewers?

I hope “Movers & Makers” is a twofold experience. When people are watching the show, I hope they are being exposed, learning about cultures and peoples, places in the Philly region they didn’t even know were there. And, simultaneously, I hope they take that knowledge … to try that food they never had before or maybe book a ticket to see that exhibit that they didn’t even know existed.

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