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Maven to Know: Jennifer Rubenstein

The local food advocate and editor-in-chief of Edible Indy dishes on what and where we should be eating in Indy.
MAVEN TO KNOW

Jennifer Rubenstein is a marketer by trade and she never intended to own a magazine—let alone be its editor-in-chief. But eight years ago, she and her husband, Jeff, did just that when they signed on the dotted line and purchased Edible Indy. 

Edible Indy is a print publication that specializes in stories about the Indiana food movement and education. Its pages share stories of local growers, producers, and food artisans, and highlights places throughout Indiana where readers should be drinking, eating, and shopping.

In her role as editor-in-chief, the self-proclaimed foodie uses her platform as a space where she can educate others on the importance of supporting local food and the sustainable food movement.

“One of the things that really drew us to purchase Edible Indy is leaving some sort of legacy and making an impact,” she says. “I have two daughters and one of the things we taught them is ‘we want to do something that we love, we want to do something that impacts somebody for the better.’”

Rubinstein gave us the 4-1-1 on what it’s like to be your own boss, what three items she always keeps in her kitchen, and why we should always visit the bathroom when we check out a new restaurant.

Maven superpower: Entertaining. I love making things very special and try really hard to keep people entertained. I never want anybody to not feel welcome.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On your website, you call yourself a ‘food advocate.’ What does that mean?

What it means to be a food advocate is you’re advocating for sustainable food. And so part of being a food advocate is standing up and telling stories and telling facts about what’s happening in our community and how we can positively impact the system, whether it be feeding the hungry or creating a community garden. 

Maybe it’s working directly with somebody like Second Helpings or Wheeler Mission or Gleaners Food Bank. It’s also telling stories that people don’t even know exist. We did a really amazing story last year in the fall that was called ‘A Plague of Pandemics’ and the whole purpose of that article was to talk about some of the amazing little corner places that were making a difference in the community.

So, you’re your own boss. How do you stay accountable and productive?

This is a bit tough. I try really hard to schedule time for things and keep it consistent. Certain days are for meetings, certain days for calls, and I try to stay ahead of things versus waiting until 15 minutes prior as that stresses me out. I also use a written and digital planner. I use a Panda Planner daily to help me narrow in on what needs to be done today, not tomorrow, but today.

What are some of the best dishes you’ve had in Indy?

I love all of the food that we have around Indianapolis. I will say one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had is at Patachou in Broad Ripple. I love the Buddha Bowl and brisket that you can get at Rooster’s Kitchen. I love the Cuban sandwich at Taste of Havana. There’s something about that that makes me extremely happy.

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What do you look for in a good dish or restaurant?

The very first thing I look for in a good restaurant is a clean bathroom. I always tell people, “If the bathroom is clean, you know that the kitchen is clean.” And that, to me, is extremely important. You want to eat something that is cooked in a very clean and sanitized place. I also think customer service is key. The food can be subpar but if the wait staff is top-notch, I will go back time and time again. 

Then, when I look for really good food. So I want something that’s rich. I want something that’s flavorful. I want something that’s going to take me on a journey and experience. I think Huse Culinary, whatever it is that they do, they do it and they do not sacrifice anything. They have top-notch staff, they have top-notch food, they source and support a lot of local, fresh produce. And that is really important to me, supporting local as much as possible. 

What role does food play in our everyday lives and relationships?

It is our most common thread. We tend to talk about food when we are meeting new people. We talk about food when we are meeting with old friends. When someone gives birth, dies, celebrates an achievement, it all centers around food. That is why we need to slow down and enjoy breaking bread with people more often. You might be surprised by what you learn from someone by eating with them.

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Maya Angelou. I feel like she would be somebody who would have just amazing stories and I would just love to experience a dinner at her table and just hear her stories, hear her knowledge, hear her poetic talking. I’m sure her food probably would be as exquisite as she would be.

Who’s a chef that you admire?

Hands down, Greg Hardesty. I was blessed to work with him a few years ago on PR and to have featured him in a sobriety story from our spring issue. His passing left a void in my heart and our community’s heart.

What are some local restaurants we should be trying?

BODHI! Three generations of women creating amazing Thai Food! Traders Point Creamery, people forget about them sometimes because of location, but that is all the more reason to go! 9th Street Bistro in Noblesville, fresh locally sourced amazing food. And Muva’s Kitchen, soul food at its best and the fried chicken can’t be beat.

What three items do you have to have in your kitchen at all times?

A sharp knife, my favorite is Ash Blaeds by Aric Geesaman. Lemons and limes, you need them with almost every meal: eggs; avocado; salad; a margarita! Something sweet, right now I have homemade boxed cake donuts I made on my counter with glaze and crushed Reese’s peanut butter cups.

On a Friday night after a long week, what’s your go-to cocktail?

I love the Cure at Hotel Tango and The Apothecary at Harry and Izzy’s. It’s a beet juice cocktail and it’s the most spectacular fusion color. It’s a sweet and savory drink. It’s like nothing that you’ve ever had before. I guess I like all these pharmacy-type drinks that are good for your soul.

If you were on a deserted island and could bring only three items with you, what would they be?

I would bring a pillow. I am a sucker for resting on a comfortable pillow! I would bring seeds to grow my own food since I am not a huge coconut person. I would bring a ukulele as I have always wanted to learn how to play it and what better time than being on an island.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate-covered Albanese Gummi Bears. A few years ago, my husband bought me 40 pounds of gummies for my 40th birthday and 10 pounds were chocolate-covered that lasted almost a year. Man oh man they get me every time.

Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.

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