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David Schwimmer talks ‘Feed the Beast’ role as sommelier

David Schwimmer stars as Tommy Moran in "Feed

David Schwimmer stars as Tommy Moran in "Feed the Beast" on AMC. Credit: AMC / Frank Ockenfels

With an open kitchen, exposed brick and a giant copper Elektra espresso machine next to tables dressed in linens, Thirio restaurant could easily be the city’s next It spot.

But instead, it was the setting for a “meet and eat” dinner in early May on the set of “Feed the Beast,” an AMC series from producer Clyde Phillips filmed at the Kaufman Astoria Studios. The series premieres Sunday, June 5, at 10:05 p.m.

David Schwimmer plays sommelier Tommy Moran, who is picking up the pieces after the unexpected death of his wife. Her death halted a plan to join Jim Sturgess’ character, Dion Patras, in opening a destination restaurant in the neighborhood where they grew up: the South Bronx.

Patras, the chef, comes on thick as the motivator in the opening episode, who pushes Moran to move forward with the restaurant opening, because his wife — Rie Moran, played in flashbacks by Christine Adams — would have wanted it.

It appeals to Schwimmer that his character is a sommelier. “Being a sommelier is a very difficult path,” he said, pointing out his friend and consultant on the show, Joshua Nadel. Nadel is the founder of Gothic Wine in Oregon and beverage director for Andrew Carmellini’s restaurants in New York and Miami.

Schwimmer said that discussing wine and wine pairings was more unfamiliar than navigating a character’s complex emotions, citing his recent role as Robert Kardashian, the lawyer who comes undone after representing his friend O.J. Simpson in the FX miniseries, “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

The way to describe wine, Schwimmer said, “requires a range of vocabulary and timing that has to be kind of poetic and delicious.”

Producer of Showtime’s “Dexter” and late seasons of “Nurse Jackie,” Phillips happens to know the business of food — if not in the cooking, in the brutality of it: he grew up the son of a butcher in Boston.

It was “a world of cold animal parts and cold rooms with cold machines,” he said. He cited his father’s crossing paths with violence and morally questionable characters on more than one occasion. “So the idea for the series wasn’t much of a stretch,” he said.

As for the show’s setting in the South Bronx? He didn’t want the restaurant in an already-gentrified neighborhood. “The Bronx,” Phillips said, “is the last frontier.”

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