Kitchen Konversations with Chef Rhodes

For some chefs food is an art, creating masterpieces in bite-sized forms. For others, it is about the process – slow cooking meats for hours to achieve the perfect smoky flavor. For chef Jonathan Rhodes, cooking is about the culture.

Born and raised in Houston’s historic Trinity Gardens neighborhood, Rhodes is no stranger to overcoming the struggles of inner-city living. After graduating high school in 2009, Rhodes enlisted in the United States Marine Corp, where he served for several years before reflecting on his personal and professional passions. These reflections landed on Rhodes’s love of cooking, which organically began when he was an adolescent.

Fast forward to a degree from the Art Institute of Houston and several years working in high-profile restaurants across the city, Rhodes launched Jensen Chronicles – a pop-up restaurant serving serious southern African American-inspired eats.

“The pop up series Jensen Chronicles was all about me trying to find myself and my footing in cooking. I spent so much time cooking for others I lost touch with what I like and want,” Rhodes explained.

Not only did Rhodes find his footing, but he also found independent success with Jensen Chronicles. His path to entrepreneurship, forged by a pop-up restaurant named after the very neighborhood Rhodes grew up in, motivated the young chef to think big. His next venture, Restaurant Indigo, is the culmination of the process.

Restaurant Indigo will bring a physical structure to the tastes of Jensen Chronicles. Much like the pop-up series, its menu will focus on bringing old and new African American and Southern eats to Houstonians looking for nostalgia and culinary excellence.

From Jensen Street to Indigo, Rhodes continues to pay respect to the culture that inspires his menus. For him, they represent the sacrifice and beauty of the African American experience. Born out of necessity, but curated with love and skill, the social responsibility of food preparation is not lost on Rhodes’s mind.

Rhodes will showcase his talents and tastes during Black Restaurant Week’s Art of Flavor Pop Up Dinner taking place Monday, April 24. This private, five-course meal will be a unique opportunity to experience the full range of Rhode’s creations in one evening. More information about the event can be found here.

Interview with Chef Rhodes

Victoria Graham is a Houston – based urban education advocate by day, and Blackish Mom by night. When she is not empowering families to become advocates for their students’ academic success, she is writing at The Blackish Mom blog, providing an authentic voice for Black millennial moms. Join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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