On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," CultureMap's weekly restaurant podcast, Indie Chefs Week organizers Ned Elliott and Grover Smith join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the event that will come to Houston for the first time Friday, January 5, to Sunday, January 7, 2018.
The premise is simple; super-talented chefs from across the country gather to serve meals to diners in an intimate setting. Elliott explains how he developed the idea:
The motivation was twofold. On the first of it was wanting to get together a bunch of chefs that were quote-unquote like-minded, meaning, we don't really have any chefs that own 400 seat restaurants that are doing one in California and one in Vegas and things like that. Having sort of small, homegrown talent be given a spotlight and say, 'hey, these are people I not only look up to but people I think you and the general public should know about.
The other was the antithesis of what you get when you got to a food and wine festival. We wanted to give the chefs a platform...we want to see what you cook.
Houston will be well-represented by Erin Smith Feges and Patrick Feges (Feges BBQ), Lyle Bento (Southern Goods), Ryan Lachaine (Riel), Jillian Bartolome (Aqui), and Justin Yu (Theodore Rex, Better Luck Tomorrow). Elliott identifies Justin Severino (Cure in Pittsburgh), Brittanny Anderson (Metzger Bar and Butchery in Richmond, VA), and Christine Rivera (Galaxy Taco in La Jolla, CA) as three out-of-towners that he's particularly excited are participating in the event.
In addition to ICW, Elliott also discusses his decision to sell his Austin restaurant Foreign & Domestic to chefs Nathan Lemley and Sarah Heard so that he could bring the concept to Houston and his hometown of Cincinnati. Although Elliott had initially identified a location in Bellaire that would have allowed him to open Foreign & Domestic in 2019, he says that post-Harvey restaurant doldrums have caused him to push back those plans until 2020.
Prior to the interview, Urban Swank bloggers Shanna Jones and Felice Sloan join Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include Chris Shepherd's decision to convert Underbelly's current location into a steakhouse, the sudden closure of Pappa Charlies Barbeque, and food writer Cuc Lam's plans to open a restaurant in Oak Forest.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the trio rave about their first taste of Emmaline, the new neighborhood restaurant that recently opened in Montrose. Highlights of their meal included chef Dimitri Voutsinas' lobster pasta, pastry chef Alyssa Dole's banana split, and the excellent wine suggestions by sommelier Lindsay Huntsman. Sloan and Sandler also share some first impressions of Doris Metropolitan, the newly-opened, Israeli-inspired steakhouse.