The TT 46

Jonathan Brooks

Milktooth, Indianapolis, IN
Photo: Schwebach Photography

Why he killed it in 2015: There are cocktails at Milktooth but no dinner. Brooks is helping lead the charge for inventive all-day breakfast food at his converted garage restaurant, serving plates like a Dutch baby with vanilla-rum parsnip purée, and Belgian buttermilk-and-rye waffle with salted chocolate caramel, mascarpone, macadamia nuts and persimmon jam.

How would you describe your food? "American nostalgia."

What's your signature dish? "Masa pancake with crispy beef tongue and cauliflower escabeche."

What's the most underrated ingredient, and how do you use it? "Chicken: especially hearts and livers. I grew up being fed more chicken than I appreciated, usually under seasoned and overcooked (sorry, Mom!), and it's still a maligned ingredient to many chefs. I've put a traditional Jewish deli-style chopped chicken liver and Texas toast on the menu at Milktooth, and it's been known to sell better than the waffles. I also love them panfried in a fritto misto with cardoons and white pine nut romesco, which is currently on my menu."

What's been your biggest kitchen disaster? "I was catering a pig roast for an ex-girlfriend's father's 50th birthday, so when I went to carve the hog, I had about 75 people closely gathered around me. There was a nervous excitement in the air. With the first thwack of my butcher knife, I heard the shatter of glass and felt it rain down on my clogs. Unbeknownst to me, the hosts had set me up on an antique glass table covered in plywood, and I had just destroyed it in front of everyone. The pig was safe, but I lost several condiments along with some pride."

Cake or pie? "Pie, especially my sister's mixed-nut pie."

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