Whats Eric Eating
What's Eric Eating Episode 216

2 top Houston pitmasters reflect on their military days, plus downtown's sizzling new steakhouse

Houston pitmasters talk Veteran's Day, plus a sizzling new steakhouse

Dozier's BBQ Jim Buchanan
Jim Buchanan. Photo by Robert Jacob Lerma
Toro Toro Four Seasons Houston dinner spread
The hosts rave about their meal at Toro Toro. Photo by Jenn Duncan
Feges BBQ Spring Branch Patrick Feges Erin Smith
Patrick Feges and Erin Smith. Photo by Julie Soefer
Dozier's BBQ Jim Buchanan
Toro Toro Four Seasons Houston dinner spread
Feges BBQ Spring Branch Patrick Feges Erin Smith

On a special, Veteran's Day edition of "What's Eric Eating," pitmasters Jim Buchanan of Dozier's BBQ and Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss how serving in the military shaped their careers. Buchanan served in the U.S. Army for 11 years, including during the first Gulf War, while Feges spent two years in the Army before receiving a medical discharge.

The conversation covers a wide array of topics: everything from a lighthearted riff on how serving overseas shaped their perspectives on food to more weighty discussions of the importance of leading by example and veteran-focused non-profits they support like Camp Hope, which offers treatment programs for PTSD. While military life had its ups and downs, both men acknowledge they wouldn't be in their current roles if they hadn't served.

"Coming out of the military, you learn a lot about who you are," Buchanan says. "You learn how to drive yourself, you learn how to stay on task, and you learn this sense of 'hey, I've got to keep going. It's one foot in front of the other until we get where we need to be. That has served me well in my professional life."

Feges immediately follows up: "A couple things stick out to me. The military, you have to always have your head on a swivel and be aware of your surroundings, especially when you go into a war zone, because that's life or death. I think that's served me well as a line cook and a chef. I tell my guys, 'I see everything. If you make a mistake, I'm going to see it, because I'm constantly looking.'"

Listen to the full conversation to hear both men share the advice they give to those who ask them about enlisting, as well as a brief discussion of the phrase "thank you for your service."

Prior to the interview, blogger Felice Sloan of Swanky Maven joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: chef Christine Ha's plans to bring her Vietnamese gastropub The Blind Goat to Spring Branch; Australian-inspired coffee shop Bluestone Lane coming to The Heights; and Zenaku, an anime-inspired nightclub that's opening in downtown this weekend.

In the restaurant of the week segment, Sloan and Sandler discuss their recent meal at Toro Toro, the newly opened pan-Latin steakhouse at the Four Seasons Houston. Tune in to hear whether they think chef Richard Sandoval's restaurant is a worthy addition to Houston's steakhouse scene. 

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Subscribe to "What's Eric Eating" on Apple podcastsGoogle Play, or Spotify. Listen to it on ESPN 97.5. To hear Patrick Feges' story about being wounded in Iraq, listen to episode 47 of the Tales from the Pits podcast.