On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," miller James Brown and Austin chef Adam Brick join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Barton Springs Mill, a business that transforms organic and heritage grains and corn into a wide variety of flours. Barton Springs Mill's products are used in recipes at 15 of Austin American-Statesman critic Matthew Odam's top 25 restaurants of 2017 and have been identified by CultureMap Austin as a top dining trend for 2018.
Brown begins the conversation by explaining how an interest in baking led him to start the business and how he works with Texas farmers to develop a market both for the products produced by the mill as well as the cover crops they grow that help making growing wheat more economically viable. Barton Springs is also working with a small group of craft breweries and distilleries to produce true grain-to-glass Texas beers and spirits.
Brick, a rising star Austin chef who worked at Apis and is currently developing a new concept called Marinas, has become a passionate advocate for Brown's products and is helping him break into the Houston market. The chef has strong opinions about which restaurants should be using these ingredients in their recipes, as he explains.
As a chef, you look at McDonald's or Wendy's, you see the words 'local' and 'seasonal.' It's a marketing term now. For me, if you truly do care about local and you truly do care about a seasonal menu, then working with James is a no-brainer. If you want to consider yourself a chef who works with local, if you don't work with local flour, which is the bedrock of our civilization, then you really shouldn't be talking about local.
Brick also shares the status of his plans to open Marinas, which will be an all-day cafe on the city's east side, and his tentative plans to bring the concept to Houston in 2019. As always, the interview concludes with the lightning round, where Brown gives a surprising answer to the question of who his favorite Houston athlete past or present is.
Prior to Brown and Brick joining the show, Urban Harvest market manager Tyler Horne joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include the announcement of four additional vendors coming to Finn Hall, Houston chefs being shut out of the list of finalists for the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southwest, and the changes at The Honeymoon downtown. In the restaurants of the week segment, Sandler shares his first impressions of the new Montrose location of BuffBurger, Horne discusses his recent meal at Night Heron, and the duo rave about the El Topo food truck that appears at Urban Harvest's Saturday farmers market.