On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Adam Garcia and executive director Meredith Davis join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss PX Project. An initiative of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, PX Project is a workforce development program that offers its students culinary instruction and life skills training.
Garcia, a veteran of restaurants such as Rosie Cannonball and The Pass & Provisions, serves as an instructor and mentor, teaching the students everything from basic sanitation and knife skills to learning about the details of determining how much it costs a restaurant to create a dish. Davis provides administrative support and coordinates fundraising efforts that include selling Thanksgiving meal kits prepared by the students and special in-home dinners that feature Garcia, the students, and wine pairings.
As part of their training, the students prepare lunch for staff members at St. Luke's campus on Westheimer. A question about whether the students have any favorite dishes prompts Garcia to share an anecdote about how the program changes people's lives for the better.
"About three-quarters of our students were born in refugee camps, and I like to bring in their influences. They get really excited about it. I do, too," the chef says. "Whenever we create a dish that a student remembers from growing up, that brought his family together . . . Now he's serving it to 45 guests that want to try it. It's kind of what made me fall in love with cooking at the very beginning. Those are the ones that stand out to me."
Listen to the full interview to learn more about PX Project, including its plans to open a cafe, whether Garcia misses restaurants, and how Houstonians can support its efforts.
At the start of the show, Swanky Maven blogger Felice Sloan joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Top Chef's decision to film season 19 in Houston; the closure of Becks Prime in The Heights, and the social media kerfuffle Mico's Hot Chicken created by topping a sandwich with vanilla ice cream.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the two hosts discuss their meals at three Houston-area restaurants: Joey Uptown, the Canada-based restaurant that recently opened in the Galleria; Mozambik, the casual South African-inspired restaurant that replaced Peli Peli in The Woodlands; and Ember & Greens, a family-owned Mediterranean cafe in Memorial.