What's Eric Eating Episode 160
An insightful chat with Indigo's Jonny Rhodes, plus a first taste of Houston's most exciting new restaurant
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Jonny Rhodes joins CultureMap food editor to discuss his restaurant; Indigo, his grocery store; Broham Fine Soul Food & Groceries; and its supporting farm, Food Fight Farms.
Since Rhodes' last appearance on the show in January 2019, he's earned wide acclaim, including a James Beard Award semifinalist nomination, best new restaurant awards from the likes of Food & Wine and GQ, and a spot on Time's list of the World's Greatest Places for 2019. Despite all that success, he's closing Indigo in 2021 to grow Broham.
Rhodes offers new details about his aspirations for the project, including his goal to expand the farm to 100 acres and Broham to 25 locations over the next 10 years. Sandler asks the chef about his decision to shift from a restaurant to a grocery store.
"That was always the plan," Rhodes says. "I told everybody it was a stepping stone for more sustainability and a project that could be more long term. Everyone in our community doesn't have the ability to pay $125. So I use my customer base as a platform so that I can create something much larger. When I first opened up, I didn't have the capacity to take on the project I'm doing now."
The interview offers a number of other insights such as how Rhodes sees his role in light of the nationwide calls for racial justice sparked by the killing of George Floyd and what diners can expect from Indigo in its final year of service. Rhodes also provides details about the sort of fruit and product he intends to grow and when the farm will start producing.
Prior to the interview, co-hosts Matt Harris and Felice Sloan join Sandler to discuss the news of the week. For their first topic, the trio reflect on the closing of burger-chan's location in Greenway Plaza and discuss where they'll satsify their burger cravings until its Galleria-area location opens next year. Sloan and Harris cite La Lucha, while Sandler mentions Montrose staple Brasil.
For their second topic, they reflect on Chris Shepherd's recent Instagram post that criticized an influencer who offered to trade free food for the ever-elusive "exposure." Sandler and Sloan acknowledge that influencers have a role to play in the food community, but that a blind pitch to one of Houston's most well known chefs reflects poorly on their community.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the trio share first impressions of Bludorn, the exciting new restaurant from chef Aaron Bludorn and his wife Victoria Pappas Bludorn. Given Bludorn's pedigree as the former executive chef of New York's Café Boulud, its overall ambition, and the quality of their meal, Sandler dubs it the most significant new restaurant to open in Houston this year.
Subscribe to "What's Eric Eating" on Apple podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify. Listen to it Saturday at 1 pm on ESPN 97.5.