Spoiler Alert: This season rocked! If you’re listening out of order, turn back 9 episodes now to Season 3 Opener: Hit Play and Play Again! You don’t want to miss any of the enlightening, inspiring conversations with our amazing lineup.
If you’re here because you’ve listened all the way through, a big thank you and… wasn’t everyone on the show fantastic!? Just really good people doing really great things for their cities - Chicago and Houston. Here are some of Lauren and Greg’s favorite takeaways from this season...
Family was a theme that found its way into all of our episodes this season. Lauren’s interview with Harold Green, for instance, focused on the family of artists he’s recruited for his Flowers for the Living Collective. The phenomenal Lili K and Megan McNeal, FFTL collective members, also talked about the importance of family, however you define it. “Your vibe attracts your tribe,” as Megan told Lauren. And, indeed, she’s right. Previous podcast guests Krystal Metcalf and Sam Trump are all part of that same tribe.
John Reed, owner of BCK in Houston (by way of Newport Beach), chatted with Greg about taking care of his team and respecting the community he moved into.
The team behind Bayan Ko impressed Greg with their mix of family flavors and Do Well Sandwich Co shared their passion for community-focused entrepreneurship.
A side note: If you haven’t listened to our episode featuring El Burro and the Bull, do so now! We chatted with them last season and their story about starting out and scaling up in Houston dovetails nicely with what Bayan Ko and Do Well Sandwich Co are facing at the onset of their respective businesses.
“It's those like little moments of that nostalgia and that comfort that you get from from food and how that's translated,” Greg says. “That's why I think chefs gets so, so passionate about those recipes. And when someone has a bad experience, you know back to that Whisk episode. I remember him saying that when someone has a bad experience it affects him.”
As for what’s next, Lauren and Greg are taking care of business, personally and podcasting-wise. Lauren’s trying to crush it with her social media clients, running social strategy for restaurants, retailers, and brands. In between, she’ll be catching shows all over town.
Greg’s probably going to Chicago Gourmet. He’s a little festival shy. You’ll have to tune in to hear his harrowing story. It may or may not have anything to do with wine.
Until then, let us know who YOU want to hear from! We’re always open to your recommendations for food and music in Chicago and Houston so hit us up via the usual channels.
Thanks for listening!
Get all the links and show notes for the season (and previous seasons) at http://www.laurenignited.com!
What does a guy from upstate New York with a successful restaurant in Newport Beach do to expand his business? He opens an even bigger spot in Houston just before Hurricane Harvey hit, naturally. Greg chats with John Reed, co-owner of Bosscat Kitchen and Libations, about staying successful amidst challenges and taking care of your customers and staff.
John was a successful sports bar owner in California when a rude bartender at a gastropub pushed him to open the first BCK. “Listen, we're going to open up a craft bar and restaurant,” he said, “It's going to serve everything from Coor’s and Jameson to a $14 well-crafted cocktail, but we're going to do it with with a great attitude.” Business partner Leslie Nguyen came up with the idea to focus on whiskey. They opened in Newport Beach at a time when the concept didn’t exist in cities outside the biggest three in the country.
BCK has a relaxed atmosphere but is serious about their menus. John says they’re cross-cultural dishes with a southern-inspired twist. Cornbread madeleines, pig candy with kimchi, and a chouchou ketchup have all garnered BCK exceptional reviews on Yelp and even interest from review giant.
Becoming a part of Yelp’s campus headquarters, however, put too many financial strains on BCK’s expansion plans. John knew that if BCK wanted to expand they had to consider points beyond the state.
Read on at http://www.laurenignited.com/BCK
This episode will make you smile. There’s so much good energy swirling around singer and Chicago native Meagan McNeal. Lauren had the chance to chat with her about life after her amazing, if short, run on NBC’s The Voice, the guiding principle she wants to instill in her children, and how the city’s vibe promotes artistic collaboration.
Since launching her solo career in 2007, Meagan has opened for legendary Motown acts Dwell, Avery Sunshine, John B, and The Velvelettes. She’s performed background vocals for Eminem and The O’Jays. She’s also had the privilege to work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on their Peace Initiative Community Partnership.
And, of course, she was a member of Jennifer Hudson’s team on season 13 of The Voice, an experience that pushed her well outside of her comfort zone. As for being voted off during the battle round, she says it worked out the way it was supposed to for a number of reasons. “You either win or you learn,” Meagan says. “You never lose.” That’s an affirmation she and her six-year-old son have recited together since he was three. It’s the same one she’ll share with her second son who’s due to be born around the time of this podcast hits the air.
Motherhood has taught her to give more compassionate feedback to other female artists. “If I could just go back and put my hand over that girl’s mouth,” she laughs looking back at her 22-year old self. “Now, as a mother and just as an older woman,” she says, “the message is more compassionate.”
Back to showing up, Meagan tells Lauren that says she’s always learning from the artists here in Chicago. People like Harold Green, Lili K, Sam Trump, Dee Alexander, Makaya McCraven. Anyone who shares her passion to study study study, learn learn learn.
Meagan says, “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” That’s a theme that gets repeated often this podcast. Like Meagan, many of the talented guests that sit down to chat have come out of or collaborated with Sidewalk Chalk and Harold Green’s Flowers for the Living collective.
Lauren couldn’t let Meagan get away without asking her where she likes to eat in Chicago and what’s up for the rest of 2019. A couple of her favorite restaurants are Give Me Some Sugah in the city’s South Shore neighborhood and Virtue in Hyde Park. As for 2019, she’s anxiously awaiting her little arrival.
Best wishes, Meagan!
Check out the full show notes at http://www.laurenignited.com/MeaganMcNeal
Photo cred: @doug.morence.sr
Family is everything for Raquel Quadreny and fiancé Lawrence Letrero, the couple behind Bayan Ko in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood. Greg pulls up a chair at this 30-seater and digs into the inspiration behind the Cuban Filipino focus.
The menu is perfectly edited: Cuban dishes that Raquel grew up eating alongside specialties from Lawrence’s Filipino heritage. “We’re really representing what we eat every day, what we enjoy eating and who we are,” says Lawrence.
It’s a mash-up that clients have enjoyed eating since Bayan Ko opened in late 2018, to the point of eating them out of menu items on a consistent basis. “People just love to come here,” adds Raquel, “to experience the space and our services and just kind of enjoy.”
There’s a lot to enjoy. But if you’re expecting a fusion on a plate, you’ll be delightfully surprised. Each dish is a spin on a classic, not a mashed-up reinvention. Smoked ham hock croqueta tots are a small-plates take on a Cuban classic. The oxtail kare kare is a hand-me-down recipe from Lawrence’s mother.
“I'm like, I don't care how much it sells it's going on [the menu]. But I'm surprised at how many people have really been open to it,” says Lawrence. “I knew the Filipinos would but I don't know all the foodies would come out.”
Their tiny BYOB under the elevated tracks, or “L”, is a labor of family love from front to back. After a few pop-up shop runs to test their concept, Raquel and Lawrence, went in search of a space to call their own. Once found, they enlisted Lawrence’s father and brother-in-law to help with the buildout. When she wasn’t tricking out the decor, Raquel got to work staffing the front of house while Lawrence did what he does best: cook.
And what about the restaurant’s name? Well, you’ll just have to listen in to find out!
And read more at http://www.laurenignited.com/BayanKo
The Dip draws inspiration from jazz, reggae, funk, and soul. But as Lauren found out for this episode, don’t call this electrifying 7-piece group out of Seattle a soul band. “I think that, from a historical standpoint, soul music is the music as a black art form, and we're not African-American,” says Tom Eddy, lead vocalist and guitarist.
On their latest album, The Dip Delivers, the band definitely pays its respects to that culturally important genre and artists like Stevie Wonder and The Temptations. They also count The Beach Boys and sessions musicians like The Wrecking Crew as Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section as influences. “It's all these recordings where everything's in the room and feels so alive and the players were so killer,” says Jarred Katz, the band’s drummer.
Album art is another aspect of the band’s overall aesthetic. Created by Dan Gneiding of Grayhood, the designs draw on the great old vinyl covers of the past while capturing the band’s modern vibe. But it’s not all vintage, all the time. Spotify keeps the band up-to-date on each member’s latest discovery.. Beyond the weird songs, Jarred also likes following artists from the same record label, like Stones Throw Records or Colemine Records,.
From a musician standpoint, Tom digs Spotify’s ability to serve up every iteration of a single song. “You see Chet Baker or you… see Ella Fitzgerald play this and it's all right there one after another and it's so informative.”
Find out more at http://www.laurenignited.com/TheDip
Step inside Dove’s Luncheonette in Chicago and you know you’re in for a great time. Greg chats with Dove’s chef de cuisine Tom Carlin and bartender Courtland Green to find out how the retro 42-seat diner dishes out big taste and modern experiences.
Dove’s has a serious pedigree. As a member of One Off Hospitality Group, everything about the little diner under the elevated tracks, or “L”, has been thoughtfully considered by the same team whose award-winning concepts include Blackbird, Avec, Violet Hour, and The Publican, among others.
Even the name has a diner-era lineage. “It’s pulled out of a Nelson Algren novel A Walk on the Wild Side which takes place kind of along the border of Texas and Mexico,” Chef Tom explains. And those border flavors inspire the restaurant’s menu. “The location of Dove, where he lived, kind of brought that Tex-Mex thing.”
But Dove’s prides itself on not sticking to standard Tex-Mex fare. The classic enchilada gets an update to appeal clients from one of Chicago’s most eclectic neighborhoods. “I try to keep the enchiladas vegetarian to surprise people,” he says. “It’s tofu guisado. That’s the Wicker Park swing to it. I think I’m going to do yucca for the next one.”
Learn more at http://www.laurenignited.com/dovesluncheonette
If you’re not familiar with Chicago-based vocalist Lili K yet, you’ll be one of her biggest fans by the end of this episode. Originally known for her standout guest features for Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa, she established herself as a knockout star in her own right with the 2015 release of her self-produced, full-length debut album Ruby.
She’s appeared on ABC and Fox, played festivals like Made in America, North Coast Music Festival, and Pitchfork, and has been written up in Vibe, Huffington Post, and Consequence of Sound. And for all the Houstonians out there Lili K has collaborated with The Suffers so there’s a lot of Chicago/Houston crossover.
Get ready to get deep!
Full show notes: http://www.laurenignited.com/lilik
Greg sat down with the husband and wife team behind Do Well Sandwich Company in Chicago to chat about finding your footing as a new business and being there for the community.
Mike and Malaika Wells finish each other’s “sandwiches” (literally) in a way that only couples who have been together since third grade can. It only made sense that they’d wind up in business together. Mike started out doing his own thing, making smoothies until that became too expensive. Malaika had spent her professional life in logistics and operations. Although neither of them had ever run a full-time food business, the idea of creating a space in their underserved community, someplace that fed the soul and the body appealed to them.
Catering was a natural start while they searched for a more permanent footprint. But storefronts cost money. Enter Boxville, a market space in Washington Park created out of old shipping containers.
Mike and Malaika shed some light on being a couple in business together. Their experiences call to mind the husband and wife duos of El Burro and the Bull in Houston and Café Tola in Chicago. “I mean, it actually brought us closer together,” Mike says, “and it’s not easy.”
Get the full show notes at http://www.laurenignited.com/dowell
Think all spoken word performers recite stale coffeehouse poetry? Think again! Listen in as Lauren gets to know Harold Green, Chicago poet and multifaceted genius behind the artists collective known as Flowers for the Living. His fresh brew of aural and visual stimuli draws fans from around the globe and close to home, including Rahm Emanuel, the city’s mayor.
To say that Harold knows everyone doing something special on the Chicago performance scene is an understatement. He’s like the ghost behind every guest featured on LaurenIgnited. “That is me, the artist collector,” Harold laughs. His Rolodex is no joke: Lili K, Meagan McNeal, etc.
Harold’s been curating next level performances and putting together ensembles since his days college days. Attend a FFTL show and you’ll immediately sense that the vibe is different, inclusive. Positive. You feel it at Soul Speak too, his open mic and writing workshop series.
The projects showcase Harold’s ability to foster connections and entertain at the same time. FFTL, began in 2014 as a solo YouTube “I wound up calling all of my super friends to come on board,” he says. Friends like Erthe St. James, Dee Wilson, Prince Jericho, and the three background singers he’s dubbed the Muses. Since then, FFTL has blossomed into a full-blow orchestra with 20+ members.
Get the full scoop at http://www.laurenignited.com/haroldgreen
Welcome to Season 3! And this time around, Lauren and Greg have decided to roll out all the fresh content all at once. You won’t want to miss the conversations with amazing chefs, artists, restaurants owners -- and now you don’t have to.
Lauren and Greg got the chance to go so profesh, recording the intro in a real, live podcast booth courtesy of 1871, Chicago’s technology and entrepreneurship incubator. Lauren mentors startups in all things social media at 1871 so check out their membership offerings and events.
Lauren visited India and Houston during the off-season and Greg stayed on this continent. “If anyone out there is a runner, he says, “I would highly highly recommend the Disney Marathon!” The route runs through all of the Disney theme parks and there are character photo ops, too! He’ll spend the summer getting ready The Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October.
Like Lauren, he found time to eat well while away. He says that, from beginning to end, the menu and sense of community at Aliment In San Francisco make for a great dining experience. When in Las Vegas, he counts CraftSteak, Gordon Ramsay, and Giada by Giada de Laurentiis among his favorites.
Closer to home, he’s looking forward to the Latin inspired concept by Chef Stephanie Izard, set to open soon. This will be her fourth restaurant, after Girl and the Goat, Little Goat Diner, and Duck, Duck, Goat, with Boka Restaurant Group.
Lauren and Greg met back up at Twain in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. The occasion was a special event hosted by Between Bites, a philanthropic organization supporting charitable causes through food-centered storytelling. Top Chef winner Joe Flamm contributed a moving piece dedicated to the memory of his friend and fellow chef-testant Fatima Ali.
As for the season, Lauren goes all in with singer Lili K. They discuss women in the music industry and, as you can imagine, this strong, powerful lady has a lot to say. It gets deep, y’all!
Two members of The Dip, a seven piece band out of Seattle, join Lauren and you’ll definitely want to check them out. They’re headed to Chicago in April so listen in!
Lauren wraps up the music side of things with Harold Green, a Chicago poet whose voice is his instrument. Harold puts on some of the most amazing shows with his Flowers for the Living collective.
Greg’s on restaurant duty and this season he’s running the gamut, interviewing chefs and owners at different stages of business development.
First up is Do Well Sandwich Company in Chicago. Co-owners Malika and Mike Wells share what it’s like to start a business and make an impact on their community. You won’t want to miss this conversation.
At the opposite end is Dove’s Luncheonette, another huge success from One Off Hospitality, the same team that owns Big Star and Publican. He discovers how Dove’s soundtrack is as important an element as the food..
Circling back to the theme of staring out, Greg talks with Raquel Quadreny and fiancé Lawrence Letrero about their Filipino-Cuban mashup Bayan Ko. Find out how they’ve managed to stay humble in the midst of sell-out crowds and what they’ve got planned for the future.
Greg wraps up by talking community and expansion with John Reed, co-owner of BCK in Houston and Bosscat Kitchen and Libations in Newport Beach. He shares his experiences expanding into Houston, setting down roots, and living through Hurricane Harvey.
Such great episodes this season! And LaurenIgnited will be more active on Instagram this year so connect with them via DM and send those likes.
Now it’s time for you to hit play and play again. Enjoy the season!
“When I’m on stage, I feel extremely fearless and I wanted the music to reflect that.” ~Krystal Metcalfe, on the inspiration behind her forthcoming EP
Following her tour for the release of her first EP, In Real Life, Krystal Metcalfe met up with Lauren in Chicago to talk about her musical roots growing up in the church, current collaborations, her songwriting process, her favorite food spots in Houston and Chicago, and the weirdest thing she likes to bring on tour.
Krystal, a Chicagoan, by way of St. Louis, wears her life experiences, musicianship, and love for people on her chest and is always ready to set the nearest stage on fire. Her love for music runs deep into her roots and she uses those seeds to share real, purposeful, and meaningful music that will uplift your spirits and also move the crowd.
Her musical style has been described as “the love child of Aretha Franklin and Chaka Kahn, infused with Rock n' Soul and Musical Theatre.” She has been recognized by The Chicago Tribune, as well as highlighted by Jet magazine in a new artist spotlight for her student loan anthem 'Sallie'.
Krystal's debut EP "In Real Life" also earned her performances on the historic JBTV, as well as Windy City Live. This summer she was featured at Mamby on the Beach following her spring tour with The Suffers (check out Lauren’s interview on Lauren Ignited with Kam Franklin.)
Following her spring/summer tours, Krystal’s second EP has been tracked and they are now working on the mix. She talks about their crazy idea to record 8 songs in one 7-hour day, which they did! She admits, though that they did have to go back and re-record some of the parts.
The new EP she describes as having a “strong rockin’ soul sound” that is quite different than “In Real Life.” It features songs that she has written in collaboration with her husband, and with multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter, Sam Trump (featured in another episode of Lauren Ignited.)
Krystal describes her songwriting process as “waiting for the song to be sent down from the heavens” and then it comes all at once. She says the theme of the new album came about at the beginning of the year when she was thinking about how much there is to be afraid of and how you can let yourself be ruled by your fears, or you can face them and evaluate them.
Krystal shares some of her favorite restaurants in Houston -- The Breakfast Klub (listen to Lauren’s interview with Chef Marcus Davis here) and Cyclone Anaya’s -- and in Chicago -- MacArthur’s Restaurant for southern comfort food, Batter and Berries for brunch, and Chicago q for baby back ribs.
This interview was recorded the day of the great Aretha Franklin’s passing. Aretha was such an inspiration to Krystal, she tells a story of the time her band played her entire catalog in three long sets. Want to know Krystal’s favorite Aretha song? You’ll just have to listen to find out!
In the meantime, Krystal says, “Be kind, spread love, give hugs (to people that say you can hug them,) and check out the new project when it’s available.”
Visit Lauren Ignited:
“A michelada is… a cocktail with longevity.” -Greg
Lauren and Greg kick off this mid-summer round up with Lauren’s recent visit to the Logan Square Farmers Market, Greg waxing poetic about the Green City Market in Lincoln Square, a 4th of July rooftop Cubs game (of which Lauren saw very little because she was too busy socializing, snacking and drinking gluten free hard cider provided by Angry Orchard), and Greg’s firm “no” to the summer shandys of last summer and enthusiastic “yes” to the coffee-infused lagers of this summer.
Lauren was thrilled to catch Mayer Hawthorne, who she describes as “soul with a sassy twist” at the Taste of Randolph street festival in Chicago, where she had a chance to fall in love with the rope viejo taco with goat cheese at nearby Bar Takito.
Once Greg was done complaining about the influx of traffic jams that the West Loop/ Randolph Restaurant District is currently suffering from with the influx of the companies like Google and the new McDonald’s HQ, which features a smattering of items from their “international” menus, we begin a tour of Mexican bar/restaurant concepts around Chicago including Federales (owned and operated by renowned Parlor Pizza Bar). Here the main attraction is an ice tequila shot glass you can throw once you’re done to ring a bell.
We continue to family owned La Josie on Halsted and Randolph, where Greg recommends the flank steak with a smoky michelada, his go-to Sunday drink.
We visit Rick Bayless’s Leña Brava, wood-fired and Baja-inspired, sharing a building with Cruz Blanca, a beer and bites bar and brewery. Lauren loves on the soup from Xoco, also a Bayless spot. Greg recommends anyone flying out of O’Hare Airport to allow extra time to grab food and a margarita to go from Frontera inside Terminals 1, 3 and 5.
After the break, Lauren shares an epic story about driving the artist transport golf cart up and down Lake Shore Drive for last year’s Lollapalooza, her goof up with the managers for the popular hip-hop band Migos (hint: she said, “Oh I don’t know them!” even though they were headliners), and a torrential downpour resulting in festival evacuation. This year’s festival is August 2-5, 2018 and Lauren and Greg earnestly recommend the VIP pass.
Speaking of VIP passes, gives us the 411 on VIP experiences at Six Flags Great America and we round out the summer recommended experiences with free concerts in Millennium Park (featuring artists like Louie Vega and Robyn!) and extravagant picnic options at Ravinia Music Festival.
Food & drinks mentioned in this episode:
Takito Kitchen - http://takitokitchen.com/
Bar Takito - http://bartakito.com/
Federales - http://federaleschicago.com/
La Josie - https://www.lajosie.com/
Leña Brava - http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/lena-brava/
Cruz Blanca - http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/cerveceria-cruz-blanca/
Xoco - http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco/
Frontera Grill (including the O’Hare Airport location) - http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/frontera-grill/
Cafe Tola - https://www.cafetola.com/
Lupe Tortilla Houston - https://tex-mex.com/
Music mentioned in this episode:
Mayer Hawthorne - http://www.mayerhawthorne.com/
Migos - http://migosonline.com/
Louie Vega - http://www.vegarecords.net/
Robyn - http://robyn.com/
Visit Lauren Ignited:
“People are addicted -- like crack/cocaine addicted -- to sugar. There is such a difference between a blueberry or an apple and refined crap sugar.” - Jessica Huffman
Coming off a recent juice cleanse and feeling awesome, Lauren caught up with Jessica Huffman of Nourish, Houston’s first cold-pressed juice and smoothie bar in Houston, TX.
In this episode, Jess shares her passion for juice, local business, and her experience with a hospital stay due to frostbite, where they were bringing her white bread and sugar juices during recovery. Hint: she had her friends sneak more natural foods in for her!
Jess started Nourish inspired by a desire to bring more natural, health and wellness solutions to Houston. Typical American daily diets are not giving us the essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes we need for optimal health and we have a huge epidemic of what Jess calls “crap sugar” addiction. Add to that the way most foods are processed for grocery stores, chain juice bars and mass consumption with pasteurization or high pressure processing (HPP.) Both processes kill bacteria, but that means ALL bacteria is destroyed, which includes what we need for gut health.
The cold pressed method at Nourish extracts 3-5 times more vitamins, minerals, and enzymes than any other method. Without the use of heat, and minimal oxidation, the final result is the cleanest, freshest, raw juice possible.
Jess names all the in-house juice and smoothie blends by the first thing that comes to her mind. Some house favorites include:
Ripped Monkey - organic homemade almond milk, banana, organic peanut butter, Primal Essentials grass-fed whey protein, raw organic cacao
Goji Bee - pineapple, orange, mango, banana, organic bee pollen, organic goji berries
Juan Carlos - spinach, pineapple, grape, cilantro, lime, organic flax oil
(hear the story of how this one got its name in the episode)
In addition to single serving juices and smoothies, Nourish offers 3, 5 and 7-day cleanses. A juice cleanse is when only fruit and vegetable juices are consumed for a limited amount of time to rid your body of harmful toxins. Your body spends the majority of its energy breaking down solid food. During a juice cleanse, your body devotes more energy into detoxing, while still providing your body the fuel it needs through juice. They offer 3 levels of intensity: Rookie, The Middle Child, and Hard Core.
Family owned and operated, Nourish now has 3 different locations and Jess has no plans to franchise. She prides herself in supporting local, independently owned business in the community.
Nourish Juice & Smoothie Bar’s Montrose Location, 4th Ward - 1000 W Gray St, #200; The Heights - 2155 Durham Dr; Rice Village - 5313 Morningside Dr, Houston, Texas. http://www.nourishjb.com/
Connect with Nourish:
Visit Lauren Ignited:
“Without really knowing it, we've kind of had this recipe over the years of like starting the show out and hitting people with that sexually-charged kind of funk -- like get your body moving and make you feel make you feel sexy -- dancing, getting sweaty and then it's like there's a moment where you've been doing that and then you're receptive, in the right spot for a message and the message of positivity…
...like we understand your struggle, but you gotta have hope and so I think that is kind of what we're all about. It's like we're gonna get you dancing, and get you sweaty, and then when you're in the right spot, to let you know that there's a better way -- that happiness is a choice...
… I just want to make it about feeling good and hoping that in some way that will translate and bring opportunity to us to take it around the world and do like we did in Japan the UK and other places in Europe and just carry this message of hope and remind people that music is a path to the present moment.” ~Taye Cannon, Roxy Roca
Lauren first experienced Austin-based soul band Roxy Roca live 5 years ago when they were opening for Mayer Hawthorne. Inspired by their huge presence, strong energy and unique fusion of soul, blues, funk and rock, she describes their sound like this: It rattles your soul a little bit.
It makes you want to dance, lets you firm up your position on something or how you feel about yourself.
Coming off their recent tour in Japan and showcase at SXSW, Lauren had a chance to connect with members of the band after Ryan messaged her through the app. She was amazed that of over 100 bands she favorited, they were the only ones that reached out!
In fact, nurturing community and connecting with fans is a huge priority for Roxy Roca and their grassroots approach to building a following.
On their Japanese tour, which they refer to as a “cultural explosion of the mind”, some of their favorite experiences were the all-night ramen shop after parties AFTER the after party at the club where you “get a table for like 20 people and it's all served family style. Everybody just throws in money and they bring out giant beers and all this family-style food. You just pass it all around and it's never like “this is mine, this is yours.” No one's worried about that. It's just like a bunch of ramen and a bunch of beer and a lot of smiles and laughs.”
Hailing from Austin, TX the Roxy Roca has grown and evolved since its inception in 2011. Building upon their first full-length album, Ain’t Nothin’ Fancy, and citing influences as diverse as Motown, jazz, Michael Jackson, Rick James, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, and Marvin Gaye, they plan to release People Rise Up later in 2018. The album was recorded at The Bubble in Austin with none other than Grammy Governor Chris "Frenchie" Smith (The Darkness, Toadies, Jet).
Recently, Roxy Roca released the first single off the album ,“Taurus”, complete with a complimentary music video and now available on all major streaming services. With the guidance of super-producer Smith, the new album features a grittier, edgier sound with hooky guitar riffs, funky backbeats, slammin’ horn lines, and lyrics of love, heartache, and a message that 'happiness is a choice.’
What’s next for Roxy Roca?
Vocalist Taye Cannon says…
“You play this big show… And then you wake up the next morning, and you still going to have your coffee, still going to drive the van, still going to be with your brothers in the van. I really put the focus on enjoying that and the fact that it's an adventurous lifestyle and that we get this opportunity to move people on daily basis and maybe bring them to the present moment and not so much thinking about their bills and other things that might be weighing them down you know… so I'm excited about the future. And I'm also trying not to be in the future.”
Roxy Roca is based in Austin, TX. Details and tour schedule at http://roxyroca.com
Blending Gulf Coast seafood, Tex-Mex and European influences through smoked meats and traditional family recipes, Houston’s El Burro and the Bull is a true reflection of the diversity of landscape, culture and cuisine throughout Texas.
Lauren Ignited’s Gregory Perrine caught some time in person with Co-Owner, Executive Chef and Pit Master, John Avila, to talk influences, flavors and the relationship you build with your customers that keep them coming back for more.
Specializing in small batch handcrafted barbecue, El Burro sells smoked brisket, pork, turkey, sausage, and boudin by the pound. Other menu favorites include eggs benedict torta during Sunday brunch, smoked pork and brisket tacos, meaty mac & cheese with smoked gouda and homemade bechamel. The unifying theme throughout the menu is smoke.
John says, “We’re really lucky we’re working with smoke because you not only taste it, but you smell it. When you crave BBQ it puts that trigger in your brain… smoke is the key.”
El Burro and the Bull is located inside The Conservatory, Houston’s first underground food hall and beer garden. Featuring other vendors including Moku Bar for poke, Arte Pizzeria, Noble Rot Wine Bar and The Pho Spot, The Conservatory sees a variety of crowds from lunchtime business crowds to evening happy hours, game nights to working lunch to Sunday brunch. It’s an ever-evolving space.
“It brings in everybody from the beer nerds to the wine aficionados to the barbecue lovers to the pho lovers… it’s not so much as a competition with each other as it is pushing each other to do the best we can so there’s definitely some friendly competition, but I’m happy to say I’m surrounded by people who take a lot of pride in what they do.” ~John Avila
John and wife Veronica are opening a new concept called Henderson & Kane General Store. With a focus on serving the immediate neighborhood within a one-mile radius and being a fixture in the local community, Henderson & Kane is influenced by the family owned general stores in every neighborhood in Houston and the delis of New York City.
Henderson & Kane will feature a similar menu to El Burro plus bagels, croissants, scones and a full coffee bar in the morning, and burgers, tacos, wings, beer and wine at night. They will also sell produce, bread, soda, juice and sundries -- and probably their house made BBQ sauce.
Currently the website features a survey for local neighbors to make suggestions for the store’s products and services.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to educate ourselves on what they want and at the end of the day, that’s the goal.” ~John Avila
John owes much of the inspiration behind El Burro and the Bull to his grandfather’s work ethic. His grandfather’s restaurant was part of the central Texas BBQ scene in the 1950s-60s, and as a child sweeping floors there on visits, John noticed one thing that stuck with him -- that it was mostly regulars.
Everybody knew who his grandparents were, and they knew who everyone else was. John recalls that he would say, “I’m a very lucky man because I turn the lights on in the morning and my friends show up to visit me every day.”
John continues that tradition by working partnering with his wife, Veronica Avila, who has had a huge influence on design and community engagement, and treating employees and customers like family.
“There’s a huge amount of trust that a customer puts into you the minute that hey open up your door and walk into your place and they’re going to eat something that you made with your hands.” ~John Avila, Executive Chef, Pit Master and Co-Owner of El Burro & the Bull Restaurant Group
Besides Henderson & Kane, what’s next for John and Veronica?
A bakery called Sweet Mary’s, inspired by traditional panaderias, designed using repurposed shipping containers, and named for John’s grandmother.
El Burro and the Bull is located in downtown Houston, TX at the Conservatory Food Hall, 1010 Prairie Street. http://elburroandthebull.com/
Henderson & Kane General Store is in the 6th Ward of Houston at 715 Henderson St. http://hkgeneralstore.com/
Hear more from John Avia in Lauren’s 2016 interview on episode 026 of the Lauren Ignited podcast.
I met Shantina Lynet at a Sofar Sound Show in Chicago and I was immediately mesmerized. Take a listen to our interview to hear how old she was when she first started singing (hint: it's a single-digit number) and where she plans to take her career now.
Kam Franklin, lead singer for the 8-piece gulf coast soul band from Houston, TX, came on the Lauren Ignited podcast to share a few stories from the past three years. You see, three years ago, the entire band (which was 10 people at the time) all quit their day jobs to follow this singular dream of taking The Suffers to the next level.
Since leaving their jobs, they have played on the David Letterman Show, The Daily Show, The Jimmy Kimmel Show and they have toured to Australia and Japan. They are currently on tour all around the United States.
This July, the band will be releasing their second full-length album on July 13th, our Houston Day, if you're from Houston. (713 is one of the oldest area codes for the Houston area.) Leading up to the album release, they have shared "Do Whatever" and, soon, "Mammas" both which have music videos to accompany them. I was lucky enough to be included, with my Mother, in the "Mammas" video and I can't wait to see it.
Kam also answered questions from fans on Twitter who tweeted into the show prior to airing. You're definitely going to want to hear these answers!
You can connect with Kam on Twitter at @KamFranklin. You can view The Suffers tour schedule on www.TheSuffers.com. And you can connect with us on www.LaurenIgnited.com.
It's been a minute since we've had an episode from Lauren & Greg. In this episode, you'll find out why. Greg was busy traveling to Houston to record a new episode with El Burro & the Bull and Lauren was busy traveling to Austin for SXSW....and then you know, getting work done.
From her most awe-inspiring experience at SXSW, to festival season in Chicago and through their shared love of kolaches, Lauren and Greg found a way to talk about Texas and Illinois in the same episode.
And, we have a new sponsor! We're happy to announce that Level Offices have joined us on the show--we'd love for you to try them out and let us know what you think! They have office space in their co-working studios in both Houston and Chicago.
As found on the Fat Rice website, “Fat Rice aka Arroz Gordo” is the celebratory dish of Macau. Reminiscent of paella, Arroz Gordo is a bountiful, home-style, layered rice dish usually served to family and friends on special occasions. Fat Rice’s version has jasmine rice laced with sofrito, chorizo & salted duck. It is then topped with curried thighs, char siu pork, linguiça sausage, prawns, steamed clams, tea eggs, chicken-fat-fried croutons, olives & pickled chilies, and is served with a mushroom soy and Diabo hot sauce.
But Fat Rice, nestled on the outskirts of Logan Square (2957 W Diversey Ave) is more than just the signature dish. It’s an homage to an evolving culture that once married South Chinese and Portuguese influences into an incredible fusion of flavors.
From learning traditional Chinese dumpling recipes from her grandparents while growing up in Lincoln Park, to exploring India’s culture an cuisine in college, food has always been a cornerstone of family and friends for Fat Rice co-owner, Adrienne Lo.
After a transformative journey to India and more importantly, Sri Lanka, Adrienne found herself looking for her next adventure while holding a job at Whole Foods back in Chicago. There, a friendship with Abraham Conlon, led to starting an underground supper club, X-Marx, which ended up gaining a cult following.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows running the supper club, and eventually, the city got wind of the operation, putting a kibosh on the gig. There, left with the decision of what to do next, the two partners decided to take things legit. A serendipitous chain of events led to finding the right location and a cuisine that is reflective of both Abraham and Adrienne’s ethnicity.
Two expansions and a cookbook later, Fat Rice remains at the top of the “must try” places of Chicago, and continues to add to their offerings to keep things fresh. We got the opportunity to sit down with Adrienne and sink our teeth into the story behind the restaurant. Enjoy!
Lauren and Greg talk about their rodeo experiences and the moment Greg's father became a cowboy.
We also chatted about the difference between the Chicago and Houston food scenes, the Chef culture, and the segregations of cuisine by neighborhood.
Sam Trump is a multi-instrumentalist/singer/s
From creating his own music before he was 10 to being offered 7 full-ride scholarships after high school to touring with his bands, Sam has always been in love with music, and it shows. Hear more about what goes on in the studio to create the music of Sam Trump.
It's restaurant week, and we could not be more excited to share with you some insight into one of the participating restaurants, Tanta.
World-renowned chef, Gaston Acurio, wanted to bring Peruvian cuisine to Chicago in a way that showcased culture and flavor. In his words, "Our menu is like traveling throughout Peru from the Pacific Ocean to playing in the desert to touring the Andes mountains, the reflection of the Lake Titicaca over the Altiplano, through the amazing colors and sounds of the Amazon Jungle... traveling, celebrating, sharing the flavors and joys of Peru and having fun with respect and gratitude to the Earth."
At a glance, the menu looks like a fusion of Latin and Asian cuisine, but in actuality, that is EXACTLY what Peruvian cuisine is. Take one of our favorite dishes the Pobre Niguiris Nikei. Perfectly seared skirt steak is topped with a fried quail egg, and slightly spicy sauce and acidic Ponzu gel. Presented on sushi rice, it's a bomb of flavor that literally explodes in your mouth. An order comes with two, and after you taste one, it'll be hard to share the other, so it may be smarter to order two per person.
And don't forget the drinks. Local to Peru, Pisco can be found represented in a multitude of different fashions on the menu. In this episode of the podcast, we hear a little about some of the intricacies of Pisco and how it is used in more than just a Pisco Sour. If you are not a Pisco fan, go for our favorite cocktail, El Chingon. This cocktail with a kick is a beautiful blend of Jalapeno Tanteo Tequila, Mezcal, lime, and cilantro, but it doesn't stop there. Tanta infuses rocoto pepper, indigenous to Peru, into a spherical ice cube that melts as you drink it creating a lasting burn.
For restaurant week Tanta is doing both Lunch and Dinner specials. If you have been curious about what Peruvian cuisine is about, this is a great chance to experience a variety of what the culture has to offer. For $22 a lunch consists of a choice of one of four main courses, and one of two desserts. For $44 dinner is three courses with three first course options, four second course, and two desserts. There are also daily wine specials at $9 a glass.
Albeit cold outside, the vibrancy, cuisine, and culture inside the doors at Tanta will be sure to give you a little escape from January in Chicago. Make your reservation now and be sure to take advantage of the Restaurant Week Specials through February 8th.
In this episode of the Lauren Ignited Podcast, Greg and I caught up on our holiday stories and shared which restaurants you should definitely check out during this year's Chicago Restaurant Week! And, Greg and I share the details on how to reset your healthy habits in 2018.
I met Raging Fyah during the Austin City Limits Music Festival this year and was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down and chat with Kumar Bent, front man for the 5-piece reggae band out of Jamaica.