The best part of life is who you surround yourself with. From your family and friends, neighbors, co-workers, even your barista. The people you invest energy in, help shape who you are, what you love, and how you contribute to society.
It’s not every day that you get to interview your best friend, fellow 1828 Leadership Project Class member and now local restaurateur for your job. I guess that makes my life incredibly cool. But enough about me – I’m excited to dive into a question and answer with my friend, Jeffery Burgin. You may know him from his work in city government, pouring into the neighborhoods on the near northwest side of the city, but recently after hours, Jeffery has teamed up with his brother to launch ‘The Eat Factory’ out of Indy’s beloved brunch spot, Milktooth.
Hannah Thomas: Hey Jeffery!
Jeffery Burgin: Hey Hannah!
HT: So. You’ve done…a thing! We’ve seen Eat Factory’s menu hit Instagram, you’ve had travel journalists visit, and you were also mentioned in Indianapolis Monthly. Tell us more about Eat Factory, like what’s on the menu and what’s to come?
JB: Wow, thanks for that intro! So yeah, The Eat Factory is a restaurant concept developed by my brother and I. We initially wanted to focus on a super limited menu of the things we want to eat right now. Right now we are rolling out our second menu that features Asian-Inspired Fare with our unique influences; Tori Paitan Ramen, Fried Chicken, Spicy Kimchi, A Chicken Katsu Sando made in the spirit of a Hoosier Tenderloin. We have a lot of ideas that we’ll be rolling out over the next few weeks that I am looking forward to working on.
HT: Let’s say I know nothing about Eat Factory. How do I learn more?
JB: Right now we are in residence in Fletcher Place at Milktooth on Wednesday & Thursday nights from 5-8 p.m. Check out our Instagram @eatfactory.indy for updates and menu changes.
HT: Fried Chicken meets Asian Fusion. Tell me more about how you curated this menu and where your continued ideas come from?
JB: Two months ago this menu was just bullet points in my Notes App, based on the food we didn’t see done well in Indy’s current food scene. We first had to ask ourselves why it wasn’t being done well, and if we could make it better. This menu and each of our future menus are our answer to that question.
HT: I personally fell in love with the ‘Tum Tum’ sauce -actually salivating thinking about it right now. Can you share some secrets around this delicious sauce?
JB: There is this movie from the 90s, “3 Ninjas”, one of the main characters is named Michael and his grandfather calls him Tum Tum. We used to watch this VHS all the time and this sauce, which is similar to an Orange Chicken sauce, is an ode to my brother.
HT: To some people, this family-affair venture might be a surprise. Everyone has known you to be an Indy government aficionado. Where does your love for cooking come from?
JB: Growing up my father always instilled a love of cooking with all of my siblings that has stuck with me for as long as I can remember. Additionally, before I made my way into Municipal Government I was in Culinary School. Since then, I’ve been known to host low-key dinners or brunches with my friends.
HT: A two part question for you: First: on the food scene: Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Where do you see Indy’s culinary scene?
JB: I really couldn’t tell you where I see myself in the next five years. The Eat Factory might very well be my magnum opus, but I am really excited and so proud to see my brother Michael grow within Indy’s ample food scene. Also, if you haven’t noticed other amazing food pop-ups are happening all over the city right now. Kyle Humphreys’ @shoyu.shop.indy, Christopher Trevino’s @thin_glizzy_indy, The Foraging guy, Eric, that’s running @porchpizzas. Indianapolis has always had the potential to be a truly great food destination in the country and I feel that we are on the cusp of a culinary renaissance here.
HT: For your 9 to 5 at the city. What are you looking forward to? What should Indy’s 20-and 30-somethings have on their radar?
JB: The brightest days of Indianapolis are just ahead of us! I am looking forward to the new development happening within our city and our neighborhoods, specifically the 16Tech Innovation District and the IU-Methodist Hospital expansion. Both of these projects will bring economic life and quality of life improvements for nearby residents in these areas. I would ask my fellow 20-and 30-somethings to get involved and engaged with their local communities to do their part in making Indianapolis the best city it can be.
HT: If someone has a dream they’ve always wanted to make a reality. What advice would you give them?
JB: Be deliberate with the steps and decisions you make toward your dreams, but at the same time don’t wall yourself off from opportunities that are presented to you even when they seem unsustainable.
HT: How are you taking time for self-reflection in these pinch me moments?
JB: I always strive to stay grounded and humble in these situations. It isn’t every day that you get to live out a dream with your family, but I am extremely grateful to my friends that came out to support me in this endeavor. You all mean the world to me and I could not do this without your continued support.
HT:I’m going to end with a fun question and one I don’t think I even know the answer to … You’re hosting a dinner party and you have the choice to invite anyone in Indy, dead or alive, who would you invite?
JB: My Top Three: Indy Edition would be Mari Evans, she was a phenomenal poet. Wes Montgomery, who pioneered Twentieth Century Jazz into the genre it is today, and Judith Thomas who, in addition to being a newly appointed Deputy Mayor, is one of the foremost cultural authorities in the city today.
You can find Jeffery and his brother, Michael at Milktooth on Wednesday and Thursday nights through February 11th. Give them a follow on Instagram at @eatfactory.indy to stay current on the latest.