By Rob Gaston, January 27th, 2015
Jeff and Kelly Ford have been faithful participants at the Taste of Indiana festival and great supporters of the Dig IN mission. Along with the style and quality of their restaurant, this made them the perfect choice to be featured for the #INSeason campaign during the month of beef! I asked them some questions about their operation and their favorite preparation of beef.
Q: Why the decision to have your restaurant in Terre Haute and how has your experience been there?
A: The decision to open in Terre Haute was primarily due to family. Our kids, Josh and Taelor were both in school here. Jeff had been the chef at the Country Club of Terre Haute for the past 13 years and had a great reputation. It was also more affordable and allowed us to buy our own building and open without any outside investors.
We love to spend our time and money experiencing great restaurants. We wanted to bring that back to the people in Terre Haute who we knew traveled out of town to go out to eat. There isn’t another restaurant in Terre Haute that offers what we do. We offer a level of service and cuisine that you can only find outside of Terre Haute.
Our experience has obviously been very good. We are in our eighth year of being in business, in March of 2014 we went through an extensive renovation to improve the bar, service area and it was time to repaint and replace the carpet. We owe it to our customers to reinvest in this building to keep the atmosphere up to par with service and food.
Q: What’s new or unique at J Ford’s these days?
A: We are working through the details but we should be offering limo service to our customers soon. We think it will be very well received and a little something extra we can offer.
Q: I see on your website that you get coffee from right in Terre Haute and produce from St. Mary. Those are very near you, and I’m wondering how you balance the desire to buy locally with high standards for a quality product?
A: Our high standards stay in place even when we resource locally. Clabber Girl is owned by Hulman and Company who also owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They buy beans direct and roast them locally. They have been very supportive in partnering with us to get their coffee in our restaurant. Quality, consistency and quantity are three things we need from suppliers. Saint Mary’s does a great job of providing us with what they have harvested each week. We don’t always know what we are getting but it’s good quality and we are able to use the produce as a part of our specials.
Q: What are some of your other favorite Indiana products to use?
A: We love Smoking Goose, we have Cutters IPA on draft from Bloomington and we have had great experiences with the connections we have found through our DigIN booth.
Q: This month we are promoting beef as our #INSeason ingredient. Obviously, you use a lot of beef in your restaurant; what are your favorite preparations of beef?
A: We love compound butters such as foie gras butter, bone marrow butter or chili butter. We also like to butter poach meats to a very rare for about 4 hours then sear to temperature and serve. We crust some of our steaks too; peppercorns, blackened porcini dust, etc…
Q: Is there a cut of beef that you think is underutilized by home cooks?
A: Underutilized cuts of meat would to me be any cut that requires proper braising and slow cooking techniques. Chuck roast, short ribs or even a bourguignon. That’s Sunday supper for us.