BERZERKERS Explores Chef James Rigato’s Relationship with Brown Bird

The 18-minute film explores the Mabel Gray chef’s relationship with the band that inspired his lauded Hazel Park restaurant

Chef James Rigato has appeared as a contestant on Bravo TV’s Top Chef, in numerous documentaries, TV news segments and scores of print publications.

But for BERZERKERS, an 18-minute film about Rigato’s relationship to Brown Bird and its lone surviving member, the lauded chef flexed his muscles as a narrator and executive producer in collaboration with filmmaker Mark Anthony Stanisz for this very personal project.

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“No band or artist of any medium has influenced my creativity more than Brown Bird,” Rigato said. “After more than 4 years of cooking at Mabel Gray it was time I sent them this love letter.”

BERZERKERS tells the story of Dave Lamb and MorganEve Swain, the husband and wife duo better known as the Rhode Island-based explorative folk band Brown Bird. Their soul searching approach to art and devil-may-care D.I.Y. ethos inspired Rigato’s vision for his own restaurant, Mabel Gray, named after a Brown Bird song of the same name.

“I wanted to have that spontaneity and that freedom and just that whimsical nature, and I think that’s what I pulled most from Brown Bird,” Rigato says in the film. “I appreciated that spontaneity and that pushback to conformity and I just wanted to join the party. … I wanted to create in the name of.”

Tragically, Lamb succumbed to leukemia in April 2014, less than a year after he and Swain were married. BERZERKERS finds Rigato catching up with MorganEve Swain five years later, reflecting on how she completed Brown Bird’s last album after her husband and collaborator’s death.

“When I feel his absence the most is also when I feel his presence the most,” Swain says in an extended interview from the film.

BERZERKERS is a musical film about the passion that it takes to create. But it’s also about love and loss and how art can transcend our own lives — even in death.


BERZERKERS will have its world premiere at the Freep Film Festival on April TK. Visit for showtimes and location(s).

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