Meet Jennifer Rubenstein, editor-in-chief and publisher of Edible Indy. Edible Indy is a print publication specializing in stories about the Indiana food movement and education. Edible Indy brings stories of growers, producers, and food artisans to the community through what to eat, what to drink, where to shop, and what to cook. They execute these stories through print publication, videos, online media, social media, television, and radio. They are celebrating the bounty of Bloomington, Columbus, Indianapolis, and beyond!
Get to know Jennifer as she shares her Indy “foodie favorites,” her motivation as a local food advocate, and explains the philanthropic side of her role. She even tells us what to look for when dining in (it’s not what you’d expect to hear)!
What motivates you to run this business?
Our mission is to connect growers, producers, artisans, and chefs to the community while telling the story of those who need a stronger voice. I wanted to make a true difference in the community and prove to myself I was capable of being part of something greater. We aim to revitalize how we feed and support the community.
Can you explain your overall mission as a local publication?
We value our partners, give back, tell stories and try to partner with businesses to grow their brand while sharing why what they are doing is important to our community. Those who support local businesses understand the economical advantages of working with local businesses and how they embed themselves within the community.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about being a “food advocate” and sustainability?
There is a common misconception about the cost. I think that there are a lot of misnomers that buying fresh food is more expensive than a generic brand or a non-local brand would be. And sometimes that is the case. However, one important thing you can ask yourself is, do you want to know what is in your food? And if so, you can actually minimize the cost of your health because you are eating more locally sourced, less chemically produced, and preservative-free types of foods.
On the other side of that, sometimes people don’t appreciate the fact that they do have to spend a little more on local goods at times, but again, you’re supporting somebody’s family, children, and employees versus a big conglomerate (where your purchase does not make much of an impact). Therefore, my values align with Indiana Owned. We share the goal of informing consumers that these Indiana Owned businesses (no matter if it’s a license, franchise, or original) actually give back to the community both financially and socially.
It is such an important thing for people to know that food advocacy and shopping local goes back to the economy. It goes back to food insecurity; it gives back to people who really appreciate and need it.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Be humble but fierce, kind but courageous, and know how to do everything in your business before you hire anyone to do that job.
When you enter a restaurant, what do you usually look out for? What brings the “wow factor?”
I would say the very first thing would be how I’m greeted when I walk in. Having somebody there to greet you in a positive manner can make or break any business. Customer service to me is why people continue to have a retained relationship with that facility.
I hold my own business to this standard, too. If you were to ask those who partner and advertise with Edible Indy why we are connected, they can confirm that it is because I make a point to take care of them. I make an effort to know who they are and overall keep up with them on a personal level (remembering others’ birthdays is a great skill to have, too).
Going back to restaurants, I always say that I prefer “mediocre food and good service,” as opposed to “excellent food and poor service.”
Lastly, the cleanliness of the restrooms is a big indicator of how the restaurant is run. If there is no standard of cleanliness, that reflects the type of people who are managing and owning it. Overall experience is a big aspect for me, and I appreciate restaurants that ensure the guest has a consistent experience from the dining room, to the food, to the service, to the restrooms. These all contribute to a high level of hospitality.
Now I’m curious to know, what are some spots in Indy with pristine restrooms?
I love the restrooms at HC Tavern + Kitchen, they include eye-catching details from the hand towels to the highly decorated wallpaper. The little things can make it really spectacular.
1933 Lounge in Fishers truly has some of the coolest restrooms (you’ll have to go see it for yourself).
Down on 10th street in Indy, Rabble Coffee is very unique. Long ago, “rabble-rousers” were known as a mischievous group of individuals in society. When you go into their restrooms, they have photocopied “rabble-rouser” arrest warrants (from way back) on display. They play into history with their décor, and it’s fascinating. They keep their guests both educated and entertained while waiting in line.
Can you name a favorite entrée, cocktail, and dessert here in Indy?
Entrée: I am a huge Mexican food junkie. I recommend anything between 46th and 38th on the west side of town over in the international market district. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with finding a traditional Mexican restaurant in that area.
Cocktails: For any spicy margarita fans you must try the ah-mazing “Fire N’ Ice” at Delicia!
I love “The Apothecary” at Harry and Izzy’s. It’s a beet juice cocktail, perfect for when you have an herbal craving. Plus, it’s the most beautiful fuchsia pink color!
Dessert: Try the pie (sweet or savory) at Pots & Pans Pie Co. over in Broad Ripple! I also recommend Lick ice cream in Indy or Cone + Crumb ice cream in Westfield.
If you could have one last meal with anyone (dead or alive), what’s on the menu and who would accompany you?
I would love to have dinner with Lady Gaga because she’s such an intriguing person to me. People continue to love her after she has reinvented herself many times. She would be an amazing person to just sit and talk with about how she has reinvented herself while staying true to herself. Plus, she seems extremely kind!
Since she’s Italian, the menu would include a Caprese salad, a glass of Italian wine, then some gnocchi or Neapolitan style pizza.
What makes a dinner party great in your eyes?
Your guest list, of course! To me, dinner parties are about breaking bread and having meaningful conversations about whatever is important to you at that moment. You can learn so much about others over a meal. Pair a great guest list with good music, great food, and whatever libations that you have. It can be as casual or formal as you’d like!
Making an experience out of it can be really fun, too. Whether you bring a sushi chef, or you have a cooking competition, make sure the experience is something everyone can get involved in. I’m a big advocate of never leaving anyone out. Making your guests feel comfortable is key.
Can you tell me about the Edible Indy Foundation which was established in 2017?
The Edible Indy Foundation works to raise money to send Indiana families affected by epilepsy to a medical camp called Center for Courageous Kids in Scottsville, Kentucky.
We will work directly with individuals, communities, and organizations statewide to access available opportunities to fill this camp with 30 Indiana families for an annual family camp that is free to attend for the entire family.
What was the motivation behind founding the Edible Indy Foundation?
My husband is a founding member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Indiana (he was diagnosed with epilepsy at an early age). When he founded that over 15 years ago, we began to do an annual golf outing to raise money for advocacy programming. By 2015, my husband and I decided to start our own foundation to have full control over the funds, which are earmarked specifically for the camp. By 2017, everything was finalized! For over 15 years now, we have continued to host the golf outing, and have raised over $500,000! This year, the Golf Invitational will take place at the Golf Club of Indiana on Wednesday, September 14.
Can you leave us with one fun fact about your business that people may not know about?
Shelley Hanmo Quian is a local artist who creates beautiful paper art from our magazines, and she has published a children’s book that has this art in it.
You can learn more about Shelley Hanmo Quian and Junonia Arts here.
You can learn more about Edible Indy here. To make sure you never miss an update, you can follow Edible Indy on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest! Their spring issue is out NOW, click here to find out where you can pick up a copy!
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Featured Images: Edible Indy