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 “Food For Thought: Houston” Transcript

Kerry Diamond: Hi Bombesquad. Welcome to Food For Thought, a Radio Cherry Bombe Miniseries. I'm Kerry Diamond, editor-in-chief of Cherry Bombe magazine. We wanted to know what's on the mind of food folk across the country. So we went on tour to eat, drink and talk with hundreds of you and recorded the whole thing live. Today's stop is Houston, Texas. We recorded this episode live at Nancy's Hustle, a happening eatery with some seriously delicious food.

Kerry Diamond: Thank you to Kerrygold for supporting our Food for Thought tour. Kerrygold is the Irish brand known for its award winning butter and cheese, made with milk from grass fed cows, from family farms all over Ireland. We'll be hearing more about their amazing products later. So stay tuned. First up, we'll hear from Zay Gamez and Cat Janda of Finca Tres Robles about community farming and kids.

Zay Gamez: So before I started working at Finca Tres Robles, the urban farm in the East end, I had no experience whatsoever in agriculture. I graduated with a degree in women's studies and sociology, so it was completely new. But at Finca and learning how to be a farmer, I was able to make a new connection with my environment with Houston, even though I had been living in Houston for my whole life. Because at the farm, I learned that if you try to grow lettuce in May, it will taste terrible. And if you don't cover the tomatoes during freezing weather in January, they will die, and you will lose about a month of growing time that you can't get back until the next year.

Zay Gamez: And I guess that's something that I'd like Houston folks to know, that things going on outside that we may be super insulated to really affect our food production here. And we're really trying. Houston farming scene is small, but it's growing and as you all are growing with us as consumers, that's something I'd like you to know and I'd like for you all to support us anyway and help us be resilient against everything that's going on in our environment. Yeah.

Cat Janda: We are the only farm in Houston, in the city, in the 610 loop. We don't say that with pride. We're not like, "Look at us. We're the only ones, and everybody back off." We're like, "No, come on. What else can the city do? What else can we give to our community? How else can the community be involved?" We would give you all of our ideas, and we would tell everybody how to grow food that's willing to listen and our point is to spread it, not to guard it. Right? So that's not my point. My point is on my hand. My point is that we as human beings, I think our society has so much to do with just how we eat, and what we eat, and what looks good and all of that. Raise your hand if you consider yourself a foodie.

Cat Janda: Sweet. So I don't, I eat for basic needs, so that I can keep being excited about the next thing I hate that I have to eat. And I just want to keep doing whatever I was doing. I've never taken a picture of a plate or anything like that. But here's the thing, the guys that you raised your hands in here, this is not about you all by any means. But it might be. So when I think of those plates that I see, if you scroll on your Instagram and stuff, the people that are posting that, do they even know where that came from?

Cat Janda: It looks really great. I'd eat that and that looks really good. If you dissected that plate, do you know who grew that food? Do you know where it was grown? Do you know how it was grown? Do you know what's on that? Do you know anything about it except that it is on your profile or feed. Or I think once we really know the answers to those questions, like who grew this food? How did it grow? Where did it grow? How did it get to this plate? That's when you can be in touch with the value of your food, and how just cool it is that a plate is sitting in front of you, or this bowl of stuff is sitting in front of you. And that's to me a real foodie, and I think that's a really cool way to think about Food For Thought.

Cat Janda: This past Saturday we had this program at the farm called Farmer for a Day, and I kind of shot in the dark at making this curriculum and I'm going to pat myself on the back, because the kids were all super pumped by the end of it. But I was truly shocked by the end of it. I asked Zay what we could harvest, because the way we manage the farm, the CSA gets first priority. Those have been for... If you don't know, CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, you pay for a share of the farm and then you expect to get a good bag of vegetables every week.

Cat Janda: So they get first dibs and all this stuff. And so the list that I got to harvest with the kids was pretty small. And it was mustard greens, Moringa, Roselle and radish. And I was like, ah. And then we went around the farm and we just went to these different crops and I told them, break off a leaf and try it before you grab it. And I just gave them all a buddy and a bucket and I said, "Put whatever you want in your bucket for lunch and we're going to eat it." And so then we did that and they all got mustard. They, all got basil. Things that you don't think kids eat. And they went down on lunch. It was incredible.

Cat Janda: I got them these little pita pocket things, and they just shoved it in those pita pockets and they ate right there. They took stuff home and it was really, really crazy that these kids ate mustard greens and Moringa and Roselle and Basil. If I brought bags of that stuff from HEB and dumped it on the table, I don't know that it would've had the same impact really. So that's my food for thought that kids are inherently cool with eating fresh stuff. And inherently excited about being in touch with their food and grabbing it and eating it. And I think we all are. So thank you.

Kerry Diamond: Thank you to Zay and Cat for everything. Next we'll hear from baker, Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar

Rebecca Masson: Hi everybody. Thanks for coming. Thanks for Nancy's Hustle for hosting us. When I was talking on the phone to the team at Cherry Bombe and they were talking food for thought and I was like, "What about the business of food for thought?" Right. I am a business owner, a small business owner, Fluff Bake Bar as a company is almost nine-years-old. I started out four years in wholesale and direct to consumer, and then four and a half years ago opened my brick and mortar. I just woke up one morning and was like, "Okay, I've done as much as I can in this commissary. Let's pile some more on my plate and open a brick and mortar." And it's the best thing and the worst thing.

Rebecca Masson: So my whole thought process here was I'm going through... I'm about to go through a huge change with Fluff Bake Bar. Sorry, Eric Sandler, I'm moving Fluff Bake Bar, and there's a number of reasons why. Can I say bad words? Because (beep) landlord, (beep) the parking, (beep) the area of town, there you go. You know I don't know everyone who knows the story of Fluff Bake Bar. We are in Midtown. We have no parking, unless you know about the parking garage behind us. We have a large number of homeless people and I have a really crappy landlord.

Rebecca Masson: I have had water coming out of my ceiling more than once, closing me for significant amounts of time. I've had homeless people who walk in with crack pipes, I mean it's insane. Right? And all I want to do is make cookies, because that's what I like to do, right? I didn't think about all these other things that I was going to have to do. I didn't think about having three out of five employees give you notice on the same day. I didn't think about the payroll taxes that you should always have Mrs. Wilson as your bookkeeper, because you never miss a tax payment.

Rebecca Masson: But you know, that's a whole other... There's all these things that go through your mind and go through your head. And I didn't know any of these things. The worst one was actually talking to humans. That's my worst one. I'm not very good at it. Being the face of something is really hard. Right? And so now I've just put myself in a position where I get to do it all over again. We finally got to a point where I could hide in the kitchen and wave to people, instead of actually talk to them, because not everybody gets my sense of humor.

Rebecca Masson: You asked me what my thing is and I'll tell you none of it because I've been making it for eight years. Or they look at you in the kitchen and they are like, "She looks so angry," right? I've considered Botox, all these things because I have a resting bitch face. You know? Not unfortunately, but it's a fact. Like our male counterparts in the kitchen, they're focused, right? You see the chef on the line and he's hollering at someone, he's not angry. He's focused, right? But I'm in the kitchen with the equivalent of pastry napalm, and I'm angry.

Rebecca Masson: So these are all these things that as a business owner, I didn't think about. I thought I'd just get to go in and make cookies, right? So let's just do it all over again, right? So I'm going to pick up Fluff Bake Bar, and I'm going to put it somewhere else. I can't tell you yet where. Lease is signed. We're doing it, it's happening. But I'm not telling you where yet. And I get to do this all over again. I get to learn new customers and they get to learn me, and I get to find... Now we have eight parking spots and they're all mine. And you can park there, right? You don't have to drive around the buildings.

Rebecca Masson: But I don't know why I keep doing it to myself, maybe it's this passion that I have, this fact that I like to make delicious cookies and pies and bars and brownies and ice creams, and now croissants and kolaches and cinnamon rolls. And I just keep going and going and going. It's hard though. It's very hard. It's crazy. It's insane. I've already mentioned Mrs. Wilson once, that's my mom, I literally couldn't do this without her. What is it they say behind every man is a good woman? Well, guess what? Behind every pastry chef, there's a damn good mom, right?

Rebecca Masson: Oh, I untied my shoes. She's there every Saturday morning, so you can come see her. So these are the things that as a woman, business owner, trying to make my way, that are my hurdles, that I have to go through every day. So if you do come in the bakery, I'm not angry, I promise you can wave to me. You can say hi to me. But these are the things that people don't realize and don't think about. You just see this rosy, cheeked, ruffled apron girl, making cookies. And you think that's Betty Crocker. That's who she's supposed to be. Well, obviously I'm not, right?

Rebecca Masson: But I'm still good at my job. I'm still good at what I do. I have successfully had a business for almost nine years, and from what I understand, that's kind of a landmark moment. And so I just want everyone who follows behind like who comes, every person who comes in my kitchen, every person that I meet in the world or Julia and Alba and Ecky, and all these ladies who are killing it in their game, we're showing future females, "Come on, you can kill it too." So that's really my food for thought.

Kerry Diamond: Thank you Rebecca. We look forward to hanging out with you at Fluff very soon. For our last speaker, we'll be hearing from Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri, which has two locations, one in Houston and another in New York City.

Anita Jaisinghani: So a few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting someone I've admired for a really long time. Her name is Indra Nooyi, she happens to be the CEO and chairwoman of Pepsi. She just retired, before that she was head of strategy there, and hearing her story, she talked about how she brought change to a company that big, that mostly makes its money on soda and snacks. So she reduced a high fructose corn syrup, but she made them fry their snacks in better oil, like sunflower oil. But the biggest change she made there was that she reduced the salt in all the snacks that everybody in America eats by almost 30%, but she did that in such a clever way.

Anita Jaisinghani: So she took it down about 2% every year, 2 to 3% every year, in 10 years it had gone down 30% and nobody knew. So to me that's strategic genius. She basically changed American's eating habits without them even knowing this. And these are brands like Doritos and Lays. So it was amazing and I was so impressed to hear that. So when I had to come here, and the subject was food for thought, my brain went to what is the most important subject right now in the world? What is the biggest threat to humanity? And its climate crisis. It's a subject that is really dear to me. And as chefs can we do more than we are? Absolutely.

Anita Jaisinghani: It's time that chefs like me and men or women wake up to the devastation that the meat industry is having on the environment. You know as chefs I feel we have the privilege and the moral right to shape people's eating habits and their patterns of behavior. So this is visual thinking on my part, but what if he did it the way Indra Nooyi did it. Very subtly change it because let's face it, we're not going to stop eating meat right away. And I know that we all want to eat less meat, whether it's for health reasons, for spiritual evolvement, whatever that may be. And I think a lot of people just don't know how to do it. Like they know it's the right thing to do. They don't know how to get there.

Anita Jaisinghani: So to me, this is the 800 pound gorilla that we have to kind of move off in a different direction, and it's not going to be easy. Even for me, like I was born a meat eater and coming to America I was used to having meat whenever I wanted it. So even when I decided that I'm going to go vegetarian, I want to chomp on a lamb shop, like immediately. I start having dreams of eating meat, and then I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to eat the lamp chomp, then I'm going to move on." What if we created dishes based on less meat, creating some kind of a balance with food. So there isn't this I'm either vegetarian or I'm a meat eater. Well somewhere in the middle.

Anita Jaisinghani: And just slowly start moving meets off to the side. This is what I've been doing. When I opened Pondicheri, our menu was maybe like 70% meat, I would say. I'm down to about 40% meat on that. And I check myself every year. I'm like, "Okay." And I feel I've been doing what Indra Nooyi did without realizing that I'm doing it, because I've slowly been chipping away at it. And I have some dishes where I had three pieces of meat on there, and then I'm down to two them down to one and now I'm down to just a bit of flavor of meat on there.

Anita Jaisinghani: So it's taken me this long and I've realized that none of us are going to just one day stop eating meat. But as women chefs, and this is my food for thought for women chefs that are listening, that are in the audience. That why can we not take over that 800 pound gorilla, and really steer it in a different direction. Because I feel like most women that I know are more prone to eating vegetables as opposed to the men in my life. They're like, "Where's the meat?" So it's getting appeal on that side more. And I feel it that's where my ask is, is that can we do that? It may take us many years, but it's time we did that. And here in Texas, I would love to see a lot more of that.

Anita Jaisinghani: I mean, using parts of the animal that nobody wants to cook, like liver or kidney, bones, brains, I've even sold testicles at Pondicheri, and I think my servers had more fun saying it to customers and watching the shock than actually just... I think we sold like four orders and then I made my team eat that. I'm like, "Look, it's really tasty. I promise you it's delicious." And they loved it. So yes it is. So yeah, I feel like women we can become the trendsetters, and the change makers, and bring about real meaningful difference. There's a great book out called The Fate of Food by Amanda Little that I think Kerry did a special on. But it's a wonderful book, and it tells you what the future is and it's pretty damn scary. And I feel like we are just not taking it seriously here in Texas.

Anita Jaisinghani: I feel like I'm kind of beating that drum constantly, that can we talk about other stuff, but meat on our plates, in the restaurants, and make it really taste good. And how do we do that? I mean look at cuisines from middle East, from India, Thailand, I mean they all are focused on grains and vegetables. They're not focused on big hunks of meat, there's always meat as flavor, and it's not just economics is because they know it's better for you. They figured that out. But I think the American consumerism is spreading worldwide. Unfortunately, we're exporting our problems, and it's time for us to kind of take the reins on that and say we can do a better job, because we do lead the way in the thinking of the world. And I feel like if we don't do that, so rather than asking all the chefs in the world, I'm like, "Can we just ask the women chefs to lead the way on this?" Because I know that women care more about this. So how can we bring about more meaningful change in difference? This is one way and we create a better world for our children. So that is it. That's my talk for today.

Kerry Diamond: Thank you Anita. We appreciate you sharing your perspective. Before we get to our panel, let's hear a word from Kerrygold.

Kerry Diamond: Hi everybody, Kerry Diamond here to talk to you about Kerrygold cheese and butter. I traveled to Ireland this summer to learn more about Kerrygold, the family run dairy farms they work with, and the beautiful cheese and butter made from their grass fed dairy. I hung out with cows for the first time in my life. I visited a picturesque cliff side farm in the Southeast of Ireland overlooking the ocean. I walked on a lot of grass. I ate a lot of scones slathered with Kerrygold butter, which is truly the color of sunshine.

Kerry Diamond: I learned how Kerrygold tests and grades its famous cheeses, from its award-winning reserve cheddar cheese, to its nutty and robust Dubliner cheese. I also stopped by Beechmount Farm, to learn how they make my favorite, Kerrygold Cashel Blue Irish Farmhouse Cheese. You should definitely plan a visit to Ireland to get a taste of this beautiful country, or you can just visit your favorite grocery store. For more on Kerrygold visit

Kerry Diamond: Let's welcome pastry chef Julia Doran of Nancy's Hustle, coffee expert, Ecky Prabanto of the Greenway Coffee Company, and the celebrated bartender, Alba Huerta, owner of a bar called Julep. Julia, we'll start with you. If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would that word be and why?

Julia Doran: I would say deliberate, because I like to think that I consider everything with everything that I do. Yeah. I just put a lot of thought and passion into everything.

Kerry Diamond: Alba?

Alba Huerta: Self-aware.

Kerry Diamond: I'll give you that hyphenated word is okay, we'll give you that. Why?

Alba Huerta: You know, it's an evolution. It's always constantly like having to consider what my position is on something, or how I can continue to evolve because I think that's the only way to have a positive influence, and I think that as long as you're in the industry, you should always consider moving forward in a positive way, and then changing things if you need to. So self-awareness sometimes it's not always the easiest pill to swallow, but you have to always have it in order to have a positive change.

Kerry Diamond: Ecky?

Ecky Prabanto: I think I'm always hungry. Hungry for food, drinks, to work, all that stuff. I'm always hungry to try to do different things, try to do more for the community. And yeah, I love all the food too, so I'm always hungry.

Kerry Diamond: All your answers are good, but that was a good one. We haven't heard one yet. All right. So I'd like you to tell me about your company/organization/restaurants and what you do for them. So Julia, back to you.

Julia Doran: Well, I work here at beautiful Nancy's Hustle. It was founded by Jason Vaughn and Sean Jensen. I guess I was their first employee, which I have the distinct honor of being. And yeah, we just kill it on the East Side of Houston. We're making really good food. Butter is a focus.

Kerry Diamond: Butter is a focus?

Julia Doran: Yeah, for sure.

Kerry Diamond: You have to explain that a little bit.

Julia Doran: Well, we just love butter. We put it on everything. We're unapologetic about it. But yeah, I do all the bread and desserts here.

Kerry Diamond: What is your bread philosophy? There's a big revolution going on right now and there are so many people experimenting with sourdough, and they've got their own starters in their fridge's. Are you part of the revolution?

Julia Doran: I am part of the revolution for sure. My philosophy is slow and low, just like let it ferment as long as it needs to and be patient, which is something I am terrible at. But bread has taught me how to be patient.

Kerry Diamond: So you're deliberate but not patient?

Julia Doran: Yeah, it's just something that's a constant work in progress for me, is how to not rush things and actually give them their time.

Kerry Diamond: Iso does your starter have a name?

Julia Doran: Yeah. Yeastace. And I have another starter named Yancey, that's the sweet starter, but Yancey was recently accidentally thrown out and now it's Blue Ivy, there's a new one called Blue Ivy.

Kerry Diamond: Who threw out Beyonce?

Julia Doran: Remains to be seen, no one's come forward. Well, it's okay. It's not a big deal. Totally cool about it.

Kerry Diamond: All right, Alba.

Alba Huerta: Yes. When people ask me about owning Julep, I like to tell people that it actually owns me, and I think that should be more clear whenever... It's something that people should be more honest about when we talk about ownership, who really owns anything in the restaurant business. And I love it. So that's always the follow-up question because you wake up working, you go to sleep working. I worked my way from being a bartender, which I've done for a very long time, and kudos to all the women who are doing it now. And then I went into ownership, and so there was a huge leap from one position to the next and the only way to get through that is to be self-aware, and to constantly just put the same emphasis that you always did when you were behind the bar, and to all of the new things that are coming up as you're becoming an owner.

Alba Huerta: And so I guess I'm technically my first employee and at some point will be my last employee. And I think that's great. I think that's a really good perspective to have on how you develop staffs, or how you develop culture, and thinking about how to make people's time with you more interesting, more valuable, whether it's them learning from you, or you learning from them. And then just acknowledging that there's an evolution to spaces and how you want that to proceed and how you want to be a part of that.

Kerry Diamond: Tell us a little bit about Julep though and what's the specialty there for people who don't live in Houston but would love to visit you one day?

Alba Huerta: So the idea behind the bar was that it's a Southern regional cocktail bar. And the reason for that was that there was a point where, and I'm going to talk about it in terms of Texas. I was a part of this Texas cocktail culture in a very early part of this decade. And when we were looking at other markets, we would look at really contemporary markets on how to make cocktails, and where those cocktails were created. And demographically, it didn't always fit the same people that we were serving. And some of them did, and some of them didn't, but it felt like we needed more of a sense of place. So the bark was named after a regional cocktail in the South, and then all of the ingredients and components of it had some reminiscent of those classic cocktails in addition to others. So it was more of an inclusive culture, and also thinking about demographically, just serving our own community and doing that, by the same way of like getting ingredients that are local, etc., etc.

Kerry Diamond: Is that Topo Chico? Which I only had for the first time last year, but apparently-

Alba Huerta: It's amazing.

Kerry Diamond: You all love it down here.

Alba Huerta: So I was born in the same city where Topo Chico was made.

Kerry Diamond: Fun fact.

Alba Huerta: Fun Fact.

Kerry Diamond: Okay.

Alba Huerta: It does come from Mexico. It is Mexican water.

Kerry Diamond: Does everyone feel compelled to order a Julep, when they go to Julep?

Alba Huerta: No, I think that the name resonates as something else. I don't know that everyone sees it as a classic cocktail that it is, but I think there's something about it that just kind of opens the door for other things. There tends to be a heavy brown water consumption though, which I think is totally fine.

Kerry Diamond: What's your number one cocktail?

Alba Huerta: For myself?

Kerry Diamond: Popularity wise?

Alba Huerta: Oh, the Cherry Bounce Sour.

Kerry Diamond: Cherry Bounce Sour. Okay.

Alba Huerta: So the Cherry Bounce comes from the pantry and prior to refrigeration, it was the way that we could preserve flavoring from seasonal ingredients. So there's a liquor that's made from preserving cherries into sugar and alcohol, predominantly Brandy, Rum or Bourbon or Whiskey. And the cherries would be repurposed for pastries or food or some other way. And then the liquor that was made from it, is what we use to make a classic bourbon sour riff, and it's going to stay on the menu forever or someone's going to fight me, I think.

Kerry Diamond: Well, I'm contractually obliged to order anything that has cherry in the name.

Alba Huerta: Oh, you know here we go.

Kerry Diamond: But I will try that later anyway. So, all right. Ecky your turn.

Ecky Prabanto: So I'm a part of Greenway Coffee. I'm a co-founder of Greenway Coffee. I started over 10-years-ago in a little kiosk inside Greenway Plaza, and then we started opening a shop outside, basically on the ground in the basement, in a food court. And that's Blacksmith. When I started roasting coffee, that's when I basically fell in love with coffee. I figured out this is what I want to do forever. And then as we expanded, I kind of stepped out of the coffee and just started doing the business side, and I was just horrible at it. Just like Rebecca, being a business owner, it's not just you going in and making cookies or me roasting the coffee, I have to do everything else. So when my sister basically jumped into the company, that was amazing, because she's really good at that. And basically she does all that stuff and I just do all the coffee stuff.

Kerry Diamond: So why did you fall in love with roasting coffee? Tell us about the process.

Ecky Prabanto: Oh, wow. I mean it's basically like baking bread. You start from green beans and then you roast it. It doesn't take that long honestly, it's 11, 12 minutes, but you have to do it a certain way. You have to play around with the amount of fire that goes into the drum, the airflow, and all that stuff. So that's the fun part. It's to just play around with all that stuff and find the right recipe.

Kerry Diamond: It's interesting you said it's like baking bread.

Ecky Prabanto: I love baking bread. I started baking bread the beginning of the year and I fell in love, and I just started baking sourdough.

Kerry Diamond: Do you have a starter?

Ecky Prabanto: I do.

Kerry Diamond: And it's name?

Ecky Prabanto: Beyonce. That's why I was like-

Kerry Diamond: Yes.

Julia Doran: No, shut up.

Ecky Prabanto: Yes. I mean, you know?

Julia Doran: I don't wonder how many Beyonce starters there are out in the world.

Ecky Prabanto: It's Queen Bee, like how do you not love her?

Julia Doran: Yeah. She's the mother of them all.

Kerry Diamond: I think we might have to do a Cherry Bombe survey, if you know what I mean. I wonder what Beyonce names her starter.

Julia Doran: Let's hope she has one.

Ecky Prabanto: I doubt that she'd bake her own bread.

Julia Doran: She probably does.

Kerry Diamond: You think she does?

Julia Doran: She does everything.

Kerry Diamond: You think she doesn't. Okay. We're going to get to the bottom of this one of these days. All right. Next up is the one food related topic or issue that is on your mind the most these days? I mean, we called the tour of the Food For Thought tour because everybody in the Bombesquad has got a lot on their mind. We're to have you narrow it down to one thing though. So Julia, aside from the death of Beyonce, the starter, what is on your mind these days?

Julia Doran: For me, and the kind of involvement that I have here at this restaurant, it's a lot about how we train the next generation of cooks to be better than we are. And a lot of that is dependent on creating safe spaces and resources and giving them opportunities that they might not have had in other places. So for me, I see that as the best thing that I can spend my time doing, of course, other than teaching them recipes on how to make tasty bread and dessert, but focusing on creating a landscape where I can go and eat at a number of restaurants that are female-owned, people-of-color-owned, queer-owned and I have options in that area would be great.

Kerry Diamond: I mean that's a lot to take on. The typical restaurant job doesn't pay well, you work really long hours. So how do you tackle all of that?

Julia Doran: Yeah, I think little by little. I think here at Nancy's we've done a really great job at cutting out all of the bullshit that I've experienced in every other restaurant that I've worked at, with just little subtle language things that you hear. And then also doing things like they make their own family meals here. We encourage them to do their own thing there. We have a little cookbook library that they can check out and just pushing them to be better.

Julia Doran: I mean, I've seen this in so many places where like, just because you're a good cook doesn't mean you're going to be a good chef, and doesn't teach you actual management skills and how to talk to people in a way that is respectful, and that you can get what you want out of them. Or even like, I've never worked in a restaurant that has a human resources person. So we're a very small restaurant, but I think we're trying as much as we can to put those kinds of systems in place, so that they can grow and become the baddest crew of chefs out there.

Kerry Diamond: Well, bravo to you guys for doing that.

Julia Doran: We're trying.

Kerry Diamond: Alba.

Alba Huerta: Well, there's a hot topic on my mind, and I think it's the same for a lot of female bartenders out there. There was recently a man that was awarded an icon award, who's been known to say that women do not belong in bars, and that all of the stars are men. So it's really caused quite a movement in my industry.

Kerry Diamond: Female bartenders?

Alba Huerta: Female bartenders and in the bar community in general. The award system, it's called the 50-best-bars in the world... The World's 50 Best Bars, pardon me. And they awarded this icon. They give icon award, and it's a very blatant and very like burn to most people. But I think the message that I've seen over the past few days is that he couldn't be more wrong. You know, I think that, and we've seen this happen in coffee, we've seen this happen in restaurants and these ideologies are just really outdated.

Alba Huerta: And we have to have our media partners on this. We have to have people go to the World's 50 Best Bars and see what brands are supporting this type of behavior, and know that that's not the right thing to do. It never was. What we have is the opportunity, and the restaurant business and the bar business, to close the wage gap as much as possible. You know, you can work behind a bar, and be completely dependent on your skill. You work in a tip pool, and you work a certain amount of hours and you know that you went home with the money that you deserve. And to have someone say that you don't belong in it, it's even more discriminatory than just to say it's because you're a female. You know?

Kerry Diamond: Is it the same group that does the 50 Best Restaurants?

Alba Huerta: I'm uncertain if they are related, but there has also been issues with the World's 50 Best Restaurants, and it's all of these Worlds 50 Best. If we're giving people the best awards in the world, we should really consider who they are. You know? And we should really consider the message that it's conveying, and Houston, you would be really hard pressed to go to any bar or restaurant and not see a diverse group of people working together. And I know for a fact. I mean we can talk about Christine, we can talk about Anna Wilkins, we can talk about all these women in the bar business in Houston who are running bars. And it's a really cool thing to know that about your own city, but the message of something being worldly, is very important to call it out and say, "No, that's not the kind of," and you're not offending us, we know you're wrong. It's just enough.

Kerry Diamond: The whole list thing is so tricky. I mean the World's 50 Best Restaurants, again, I don't know if they're affiliated with the best bar folks, but they still give out that Best Female Chef Award, which makes me bonkers. It's like I have no problem with the Best Female Chef Award, I started a magazine about women and food. So obviously I'm all for female chefs. But if you're going to have a female chef award, have a male chef award, have a gender neutral award, I mean, I don't know, it just seems so dated to me to still have that.

Alba Huerta: Absolutely.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. But it's funny, Alba and I were talking and she mentioned this person who had said that about women not belonging in bars and in the bar culture. And I was like, "Oh my God, I thought we were so beyond this," but I was just in Europe last week and so was Rebecca. We just missed each other by like nanoseconds and Marco Pierre White, who a lot of you know about said... Who knew what he said exactly. You did?

Alba Huerta: Yeah. Well, he said that women are too emotional to be in a kitchen, but the headline was-

Kerry Diamond: Say that again.

Audience Member: We can't lift heavy pans.

Alba Huerta: Oh, we can't lift heavy pans.

Kerry Diamond: We can't lift heavy pans, I forgot that part.

Alba Huerta: And the headline was something like, "Famously emotional chef says women are too emotional to be in kitchens," and there's your media partner on that. You know, finally, it's a good call out.

Kerry Diamond: Marco Pierre, I mean all the people talk about the pot calling the kettle, whatever that term is. I don't know. If you don't know him, he is famously the most shouty chef in the UK, probably in all of Europe. And he's the one who trained Gordon Ramsay. So if you want to blame Gordon Ramsay on anybody, it's Marco Pierre White. But it's kind of a bummer for me because I just thought we had come further than just kind of dumb blanket statements like that. But apparently we haven't.

Alba Huerta: And I think the other thing to consider is that... I mean Mr. Charles Schoeman is the gentleman who's behind that comment in the bar business and he's 80-years-old. Like he's 80-years-old. And it's the fact that he's being recognized by our peers. It's the fact that these things are okay to be said, but also that's a very long time to have that mentality, and pass that on to people that you've trained, pass that on to people that are part of the best of this group. And so the message isn't getting shut down as long as the recognition remains, these messages continue.

Alba Huerta: And you know this person has been an advertisement for his own misogyny for a very long time, and a lot of articles are saying, "Yes, I said that." And even a movie that was made about him. So this isn't something new, and it isn't something that... It's just something that's been allowed to happen. And as long as the recognition is there, again, it's this trickle down effect of that mentality. And it's not really being addressed. Like it's not okay.

Kerry Diamond: It's demoralizing.

Alba Huerta: It's demoralizing.

Kerry Diamond: Ecky, what's on your mind?

Ecky Prabanto: Well, I can't follow out to that, I just want to talk about coffee. Well, a few weeks ago, a good friend of mine sent me a text message and said, "Is caffeine bad for you?" She sent me an article from this doctor that says you should not be drinking caffeine because it will cause insomnia and all these other problems. And I said, "Well, does it bother you?" And she said, "Well, not really." "Well, there you go. Just drink it in moderation. You don't need to do too much. You'll be okay." I mean technically tea has more caffeine than coffee.

Kerry Diamond: Really?

Ecky Prabanto: Yes, but the tea it's not brewed as concentrated as coffee. So you're doing about five grams of tea, comparing to 30 grams of coffee. Basically, it's like caffeine is not bad for you. Just drink it in moderation. You'll be okay. Don't overdo it. I don't know about caffeine pills. I have nothing to do with that. But caffeine is not bad for you guys. Keep drinking it.

Kerry Diamond: All I can say is-

Ecky Prabanto: Keep drinking coffee.

Kerry Diamond: Please. Dear Lord, don't take away my coffee. I've so few things left these days, but I don't know what I would do without coffee. Okay, we're going to move to the speed round. Are you ready? Julia, your favorite thing to make, bake or cook?

Julia Doran: Pie.

Kerry Diamond: Pie?

Julia Doran: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: What kind?

Julia Doran: Any. I think this was specifically fruit and definitely with ice cream.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. Yum, a la Mode, all the way.

Julia Doran: Got to do.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. I'm team buttercream and team a la Mode, 100%. Okay, Alba.

Alba Huerta: I don't bake or cook. I wish I could. You guys I'm so impressed with you, or anyone that can cook for me. I make drinks. My favorite thing to make I think is lighter cocktails, because I've gotten 39 it's not that easy to drink. What I mean by lighter is like lower alcohol. Anything with lower alcohol, I just can't do it anymore. So every now and then I can still go for it. But for the most part, anything with lower alcohol is the way that I drink now. I mean I love wine, and all of those things, but anything that's fortified I'm like, yes.

Kerry Diamond: Ecky.

Ecky Prabanto: Bread.

Kerry Diamond: Bread. Okay.

Ecky Prabanto: I love baking bread.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. Julia, your culinary hero.

Julia Doran: I know it's so stereotypical, but Julia Child, she's the best.

Alba Huerta: She is.

Julia Doran: Yeah. I re-watch a lot of her old videos on like PBS Online and they're still so relevant and she's first of her kind.

Kerry Diamond: Do you feel a kinship name wise?

Julia Doran: Sure. Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Like whatever you say.

Julia Doran: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Alba. Who's your culinary hero?

Alba Huerta: It's a tough one. I have to give it up right now for Dominique Crenn. I know that she's going through a battle with cancer. She's incredible. Just her mentality, the way that she runs her kitchen, the openness about the things that she's going through. Just very open-minded and very forward thinking. And I think that's very important for anyone in the industry. Whether you're in the culinary or whether in the beverage or the food side. Just an amazing force and the food's incredible. Her food is incredible.

Kerry Diamond: She has two places out there. One's Atelier Crenn and the other is Petit Crenn, but they're both absolutely worth checking out. Ecky, culinary hero?

Ecky Prabanto: You know, I have to say my grandma. I learned how to cook from her. Well when I used to live in Indonesia, I cooked absolutely nothing and that was the only time I would be making something in the kitchen. It was to help her baking or cooking anything. And when I moved here when I was 18, I started missing home-cooked meal and all that stuff. So I start learning how to cook and she would be the one who helped me out just encourage me to start cooking because I'm like, "I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to chop things. Like what do you mean? How do I do this?"

Ecky Prabanto: I know how to bake because I always helped her how to bake, so she's basically my hero because I know how to cook and bake, and maybe roast coffee because of her.

Kerry Diamond: What was one of her specialties?

Ecky Prabanto: She makes this milk pie that's delicious, but never had the recipe.

Julia Doran: It's a milk.

Ecky Prabanto: I know.

Kerry Diamond: What is a milk pie?

Ecky Prabanto: It's just a pie. That's just with this custard milk filling thing. I don't even know. Like me and my sister have been trying to do this pie and we cannot figure it out. One day.

Kerry Diamond: Julia, can you help them crack the code?

Ecky Prabanto: Can you please help me out with this milk pie.

Julia Doran: I'm not your grandmother, I don't know if I can do it. I'd be happy to help.

Kerry Diamond: Does she have no recipes? Everything's just up here.

Ecky Prabanto: Yeah, everything is. Every time I was like, "What's the recipe?" "A pinch of this, and a scoop of this." I was like, "Well, can you do it?" It's baking. It's not cooking. And she's like, "No, you just have to do it with me and then measure it yourself."

Kerry Diamond: Well maybe when you get your tea shop open.

Ecky Prabanto: Maybe.

Kerry Diamond: That'll be on the menu.

Ecky Prabanto: Oof. That'd be fun, maybe, that'd be a good one.

Kerry Diamond: No, I'm sorry. Forgive me, for bringing that up. Sorry about that.

Ecky Prabanto: It's like, "No, we're doing drinks only."

Kerry Diamond: Julia, where do you do your best thinking

Julia Doran: On the floor of my shower.

Kerry Diamond: On the floor of your shower?

Julia Doran: Oh yeah.

Julia Doran: Like when I get home and it's like, am all gross, getting a nice hot shower before bed time, and just think about stuff. That's where all my good ideas happen.

Kerry Diamond: Okay.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. Alba.

Alba Huerta: It's an old bartender thing, but after midnight my brain is on. It's like I was so used to it, just being ready to close out the bar shift. And during the day I can have a lot of coffee, a lot of coffee to get my brains started and I can do it, but there's something flawless about it after midnight. So if I don't plan on staying out and working all night, I try to get myself into bed at like 11, because once I'm up it's like I'm going to work. Some things you can't undo and the brain's like, "Got to do math, got to close at the register, got to dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. Got to do the 200 things for closeout." And so my best thinking actually happens after midnight.

Kerry Diamond: Ecky.

Ecky Prabanto: Mine is first thing when I get to the warehouse, usually I get there super early before anyone gets there and it's empty. Start the roaster, brewing coffee and that's when I do my thinking. I'm the opposite of you. My brain shuts down after three o'clock, it's done. I wake up at five, six o'clock be at the warehouse and then be done by three.

Alba Huerta: Amazing.

Ecky Prabanto: Yeah.

Alba Huerta: I'm so impressed with you.

Kerry Diamond: All right, last question. Favorite thing to eat or drink in Houston? Not connected to you personally or professionally? It doesn't have to be like your absolute favorite. A favorite.

Julia Doran: I don't know the name of them. There's this place in Chinatown called Nam Khao, and there are these little like steamed rice cakes that have scallion and chicharrone and shrimp and you pour fish sauce on them. They're like from Northern Vietnam, so, so good and addictive and you can eat like a dozen. No problem.

Kerry Diamond: Sounds good.

Julia Doran: I just pointed on the menu. I didn't even know what they're called.

Ecky Prabanto: Okay. This is shameless plug, but it's actually the Nancy Cakes, and I think if you are here, you know it's true. Like everybody in this audience give it up to the Nancy Cakes.

Julia Doran: Mercy is going to be over there cooking them in a minute.

Kerry Diamond: What is a Nancy cake?

Julia Doran: Oh. It is a corn cake that we serve with cultured butter, trout roe, and honey and chives.

Kerry Diamond: Oh it sounds so cool.

Julia Doran: It's great. I'm not sick of them yet.

Ecky Prabanto: No, I have reformed my Nancy cake addiction quite a bit, which is the reason why I've lost a little bit of weight. And when I walked in, I excused myself I was like, "Look, I was on a keto diet. I just really miss the Nancy Cakes." It's like the Nancy Cakes knows I'm like... But yeah, it's amazing. They're amazing. They're amazing.

Kerry Diamond: Good tip. All right, bring it home.

Alba Huerta: I like this place called Pho Bình By Night. It's a simple pho, but they're delicious. And they do bone marrow because they cook all the bones in the pho, soak it all night, and they just cut it open and just scrape it out. And it's $4 for a bowl of bone marrow. It's ridiculous. It's delicious. You guys should try it. They only open nighttime open at five till about midnight on the weekends up until three.

Ecky Prabanto: I feel like living in Houston, we could just do that game all night. It's like name of another one, and we would like just keep going.

Kerry Diamond: Well that's a blessing.

Ecky Prabanto: Absolutely.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. It's funny, when I got off the plane in the airport, the first thing that greeted me was this big poster with Chris Shepherd and a whole bunch of other chefs from the Houston tourism group, and you're on that poster.

Audience Member: Chris maybe?

Kerry Diamond: Maybe Chris was looming over you and I just didn't see you, Rebecca. I apologize. But the hashtag was Tasty Houston.

Rebecca Masson: We're very lucky.

Kerry Diamond: Well we're going to try some of that tasty food very soon, but if anybody has questions for anyone on the panel or any of the speakers. Oh great.

Elizabeth: Hi, I'm Elizabeth. Just hearing you say that, I had a question for you guys. So five or so years ago, our oil and gas industry went down and we were sort of in this identity crisis as a city. And I think the things that came out of that were like that GQ article that was like Houston is the new city of Southern cool. And we were sort of being redefined by our food scene. But speaking of Chris and this event that happened this weekend, which is a wonderful event, Southern Smoke, but I couldn't help feeling the representation was not there for women and food. And so I'm curious how you guys feel about this city and Houston's identity.

Julia Doran: Yeah, it could be a lot better, couldn't it? I feel like that's kind of why I answered that question the way I did earlier, was because I feel... I mean Houston is an incredibly diverse city, and we have an amazing immigrant population, and people from all over the place. But you don't really see that very well represented in the restaurants that get the most attention in the city. But when you are coming into town and I'm making a list of all the women who are bad asses in the city, it's actually pretty easy to make the list. The visual isn't quite there yet. So I mean we just have to, like you said with the media partners and just train this next generation of chefs to open their own businesses, and employ us one day maybe.

Kerry Diamond: I mean, it goes back to what I talked about earlier, the whole reason we got on the road. I mean often the media is a little lazy. I hate to say that being part of it, but it's who's in front of you? Who's your friend? Who are you totally taken with? And who has the money to hire PR and marketing and all of those things? And the reality is so many of the women in the Bombesquad who have their own businesses, they're independent operators. Like killing themselves, doing all the things that you talked about, and that Rebecca so painfully talked about. The things that are the reality, you want to think it's all just fun and being able to go bake the sourdough bread and bake the brownies, but you have to bake the books.

Kerry Diamond: You have to hire the staff and do all of those things. And when it's just you and you don't have the backing of a big restaurant group or things like that it makes a difference. I'm pretty lucky at Cherry Bombe we get to go to a lot of the different food conferences, and you see it time and time again, the people who have the backing. And a lot of times it's the... I don't want to say it, but it is the male chef who has the publicist, who has the team with him, and they're able to like roll into the city five people deep, and go do the conferences and do all the dinners and women are getting there. But we just don't have the same systems behind us right now. Some do, but not to the extent that the guys do right now.

Alba Huerta: If you guys don't know this about the bar business, everything goes down on Facebook. So I don't know if that's the same for the restaurant side. It's like somebody posted a thread about underrated female bartenders in the city. And I think that word is really harsh. I think that there's a visibility problem, and there's a visibility problem because I don't think that any of them felt like they weren't appreciated, or that they weren't necessarily cared for in their personal bars or environments. But I think visibility is the tough one.

Alba Huerta: So as long as there's always like one girl doing this one thing, that one time, there will always be a visibility problem for all the rest of them, because they're here and you're right. Making the list of who is, or even in diverse groups of... I mean the bar business is something that I'm very familiar with. So making a list of the bars that have diverse groups is very important. And so as long as we keep thinking about it in that way or talking about it in that sense, we will continue to have a problem.

Kerry Diamond: Underrated is a rough word. Couldn't they call it rising stars or something, or ones to watch once to watch?

Alba Huerta: Ones to watch I think is great. I think always, let's make some new lists. There should always be a new generation, getting accolades and getting rewarded for their work and to not feel there's this one thing you have to attain. There should be many things throughout their careers that they look forward to.

Kerry Diamond: Absolutely. Good question, by the way. Thank you. Thank you for being here tonight.

Kerry Diamond: Thank you to our speakers and everyone who attended our event in Houston, and a huge thank you to the team at Nancy's Hustle for hosting us. A big thank you to Kerrygold for supporting our tour and providing us with beautiful butter and cheese at each stop. Our show was produced by Jess Zeidman. Thanks for listening everyone. You're the bombe.