Indianapolis entrepreneur Ashley Brooks, of A. Rose Hospitality, knows her way around a brunch menu. In 2014, she co-founded the popular Indianapolis restaurant Milktooth, which gained national recognition for its creative breakfast and lunch fare. In 2017, she launched Baby Got Brunch, a food fest that she puts on with Bridgit Davis, of Bridgit Davis Events. Though the fest isn’t until August, tickets go on sale soon and will likely sell out. We caught up with Ashley to chat about the food fest, how it started and where it’s going.
How did you choose “Baby Got Brunch” as the name of the festival?
The theme is ‘90s music, hip hop, and of course, there’s “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-lot, and we decided Baby Got Brunch was cute.
What was the goal?
The intention was to highlight local chefs, bring people together around food and drink, have hip-hop music, a fun festival and continue my journey with brunch; it was right after I left Milktooth. But I wanted it to be a benefit. I wanted to have some intention behind it, more than just throwing a party. The mission was to address childhood food insecurity in our city. So we donated to the Patachou Foundation the first three years, and then we opened it up last year and donated to the Milk Bank.
Did you worry if a brunch fest would be a success?
Up until the night before, you’re just like, I don’t know what’s going to happen! But the first year we actually won best new food festival from Indianapolis Monthly. It was really well received; people loved it. And every year I feel like we’ve just improved upon the experience.
But then there was the pandemic. How did you deal with that?
We took two years off during the pandemic, and when we were talking about bringing it back, I was like, how do you have a food festival after a pandemic? We had to rethink the entire concept.
How did you settle on Victory Field, a baseball park, as the new location?
We needed a location that felt safe and open, but that was still indoor/outdoor and people could spread out. The pavilion at Pan Am Plaza was closing so we knew we had to leave anyway, so we were researching places. Do we close down the Circle? Rent a bunch of tents in Garfield Park? We went over a bunch of options, and Victory Field was just the perfect combination of all the things we needed and wanted.
Any changes for the fifth year?
We’re going to do a second bar. We’re going to do some non-alcoholic cocktails. That’s something people are really excited about right now. And we want to utilize more of the space, have more food trucks. We want to do more non-food, more artists. So you’ll see more of that.
Will you ever take Baby Got Brunch on the road?
We’d like to. I think Miami will be our first stop. I’ve got some chef friends down there, and they want us to bring it when we’re ready. And I would love to do New Orleans.
For ticket information, go to BabyGotBrunch.net.