The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.
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Greg And Michelle Baker To Follow The Refinery In Seminole Heights With Fodder & Shine
Posted May 14, 2013 by Jeff Houck
Updated May 14, 2013 at 08:10 AM
In today’s Tampa Tribune, Rich Mullins and I have a story about the second restaurant in Seminole Heights by Greg and Michelle Baker, owners of The Refinery. [link] The new restaurant, also on north Florida Avenue, aims to open in December or January.
Where The Refinery is often described as “eclectic” with its play on classic dishes, Fodder & Shine is expected to bring a more approachable dining experience, albeit one with plenty of native game.
As the story says:
Cracker cuisine The name Fodder & Shine is a two-part tribute to very old school Florida culture, with “Fodder” paying homage to the earthy practice of creating something special from spare parts, and “Shine” a reference to Florida’s moonshine heritage.
Much of the menu is still in development, but while the Refinery has a lineup of dishes that changes every week, Fodder & Shine will have a more stable lineup. Baker aims to take advantage of the best Florida veggies, meats and seafood as well as the state’s heritage of African-American, Native American and Spanish influences.
The size of the restaurant will give Greg Baker more room to play, including a walk-in cooler dedicated solely to making charcuterie in house and another just for craft beer. Their current refrigerator at the cooler is smaller than many walk-in closets.
The 2,000-square-foot kitchen will be significantly larger size than at The Refinery, where having more than three cooks on the line leaves little elbow room to maneuver. It includes an outdoor kitchen where Baker can smoke and grill steaks from heritage Yellow Hammer cattle.
What it won’t be is a southern food restaurant. Greg Baker intends to delve into old Cracker cuisine using native ingredients. To do so, he is researching old cookbooks and taking oral histories from pioneer families.
The menu price point will differ from The Refinery as well, with plates spanning $3 to $30.
“When you say $30, it will be because Greg is using Yellow Hammer cattle, which is as rare as it gets in Florida,” she says.
I had a chance to talk to the Bakers as the toured the former garage on Friday. The facility, which used to be a former garage, is barren except for discarded calendar with bikini models and a giant silver hot dog cart.
JH: Is it all going to be open-air?
MB: No, no, no. These are just the bones. The only thing that will be kept are the steel beams and the interior walls.
JH: There will be a 2,000-square-foot kitchen. What else?
MB: There will be an outdoor kitchen where Greg can do his smoking. He’ll have dedicated charcuterie space. The office will be here. The front, we’ll keep that room area so we can do private dining. Bar will be up front.
JH: How much of this space will be dining area?
MB: We’ll do a white tile wall where there are windows and you can see everything that’s going on in the kitchen.
GB: Probably to the first beam. We’ll take the roof off and make it into an atrium.
MB: The hot dog cart is awesome. We said we wouldn’t buy it unless it included the hot dog cart.
GB: You guys don’t understand. I’m less excited about owning this building than I am about that hot dog cart. [laughs]
JH: Maybe you should make it into a foie gras cart.
MB: A foie cart?
GB: We could take and use it as our booth in Atlanta [at the food festival]?
MB: Not a bad idea.
JH: What’s your target opening time?
MB: December or January.
MB: C’mon. Who are you talking to?
JH: I’m not doubting you.
MB: I told the architects, “We will be on time. I will be on this job site every single day. This will happen.”
JH: The ceiling will be exposed? What are you going to do?
GB: Yeah, the beams are going to be exposed. We’re going to keep the existing roof. All this will get sand-blasted.
JH: Who is taking over The Refinery?
GB: Eric is for the most part is going to be driving The Refinery along with Katie. I’ll bring over one of my people with me for this. This will be more straightforward food.
JH: Like what?
GB: I want to delve back into old Cracker cuisine or old Cracker ingredients.
MB: It’s going to be a combination. You have African influence, you have native American influence.
GB: Spanish influence.
MB When Greg described it to me, he said it’s going to be wild game, it’s going to be quail. There’s going to be lots of seafood. He’s going to be a lot of preservation, from charcuterie to canning. We’ve got the farms getting lined up. We have fields that will be growing for us. John Matthews [of Suncoast Food Alliance] is over the moon excited because that’s going to keep them going.
GB: We’re trying to get back kind of the renaissance that came over the low country, but in order to make the dishes good again you need the ingredients to work with. I’m tracking back and researching ingredients and looking at oral histories of old Florida families and trying to get a sense of their food.
JH: The thing people will ask will be, “What will the difference be between this and The Refinery?”
MB: The Refinery is more artsy sister. This is going to be a hangout. Obviously Greg is going to do his thing, but the cocktails are going to be good, the beers will be craft. We’ll have awesome wines. I’m having the furniture built. We’re using all re-purposed wood. The whole point of it is to be comfortable and hang out. I look at this being the stoner sister and the Refinery as being the artsy sister. You’re not going to see foie gras on this menu.
JH: Were there any ingredients that will be here and not The Refinery?
GB: I’m working on sources for old Cracker cattle, Yellow Hammers, things I can’t necessarily put into The Refinery’s price point. More game that I can’t put into The Refinery’s price point. I’ll have the liberty of doing something as simple as a rabbit stew. I can’t put a rabbit stew on the menu at The Refinery.
JH: What price points are you aiming at?
MB: $3 to $30
GB: Some of the beef is going to be more expensive. I’ve got a menu of bar snacks and apps…
MB: Some of the plates, you can share if you want to.
MB: In the entrees, we’ll have that big, thick steak.
GB: It’s going to be a more widely approachable menu, but still done to my standards.
JH: So the obvious question is can this neighborhood support $3 to $30?
MB: So many people ask us, “Why are you under-charging at The Refinery?” When you say $30, it will be because Greg is using Yellow Hammer cattle, which is as rare as it gets in Florida. That’s sad, because that’s what the cattle were back in the day.
JH: Where is the Yellow Hammer coming from?
GB: I’m working on some sources for that now. I’m talking with one guy whose father was the last person to still drive the cattle overland to the market in Kissimmee. It’s all grass-raised in Polk County. We’re working out USDA processing. We’ll get it worked out.
JH: Now at The Refinery, you only have a closet for a walk-in freezer.
GB: We’re going to have a walk-in and a dedicated charcuterie walk-in. We’re going to have a walk-in for beer. Now at The Refineryh, its to the point that if we get a whole pig, I have to put a couple tables together, spread some Visqueen and do it.
JH: Is there any other restaurant doing this that you know about ?
GB: Not that I know about.
MB: I want to be clear about this. This is not just southern food. This is not shrimp and grits. There might be fried chicken, but that was an African influence. It will be done in the manner it was done back in the day.
GB: If Crackers had fried chicken, it was at a restaurant. They didn’t have time for that at home.
JH: Where are you sourcing the food?
GB: Lots of old cookbooks. I’ve been working on this oral history project. Talking to people my age who are multi-generational getting me in touch with grandma and grandpa. Remembering, “Oh yes, the butter beans. They looked completely different than they do now.” So I go back through seed catalogs and try to find that.