On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef E.J. Miller joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his role leading the kitchen at International Smoke, the globally inspired restaurant created by celebrity chef Michael Mina and lifestyle guru Ayesha Curry. Miller begins by explaining the path that lead to his current role, which included a lengthy stint working for Brandi Key at a series of restaurants in the Clark Cooper group and his role as the executive sous chef at Riel, Ryan Lachaine's genre-bending Montrose eatery.
As its name implies, International Smoke centers its dishes around live fire cooking, including grilling and smoking. That has lead to some to describe the restaurant as serving "global barbecue," but Miller explains that's not a term he likes.
"When we were opening me and the chef team referred to barbecue as 'the B-word.' We don't say 'the B-word,'" Miller says. "Because in Texas we know what barbecue means to us, we're Texans. If somebody told me it was a barbecue restaurant, I would expect something different. We've been saying its global grilling and smoking techniques."
Stick around for the end of the episode, when Miller gives the most nuanced answers to two of Sandler's favorite questions: "Who's your favorite Houston sports figure past or present" and "Where's your favorite place to get a taco."
Prior to Miller joining the show, Urban Swank bloggers Shanna Jones and Felice Sloan join Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include the sale of Cherry Pie Hospitality's three remaining restaurants to Pit Room owner Michael Sambrooks, the shuttering of the original Beaver's, and Spaghetti Warehouse's plans to open a new concept called Warehouse 72. Instead of restaurants of the week, the trio recount a recent bar crawl that took them to Present Company, Holman Draft Hall, and Pitch 25.