Travel and dining are inspiration for Indy chef James “Mackie” Jones

by | People, Q&A

His Place Eatery, the popular soul food restaurant on Indy’s Eastside, started as a catering business with chef James “Mackie” Jones and his mother, Jackie. During that time, he also worked for an area broadcaster in corporate sales but felt a change in his career might be coming. Jones began attending Ivy Tech Community College and graduated with honors in 2009 with a Hospitality Administration degree. Nearly two decades since moonlighting as a caterer, chef Jones and his wife, Shawn, craft handmade dishes offering “the best quality chef-inspired soul food dishes with a unique twist.” 

What made you want to become a chef? 
For years I worked in radio advertising. And when I did that, I catered with my mom, and I fell in love with food. The more that I did it, the more I really enjoyed it. And then I decided to go to culinary school; it was like throwing gasoline on a burning flame. I got really into it and fell in love with cooking. 

What is your favorite type of food and why?
I love smoking meat. All different types of meats, finding new ideas and new things to smoke.

Where do you get your inspiration?
When my family and I travel, we always look for places to go. We look for unique spins on different (foods), seeking chefs who put their creative spin on traditional items. I get the most inspiration from dining out when traveling.

What is your favorite thing to make for yourself and your family?
My favorite thing to make for myself and my son is smoked ribs. The rest of the family probably wants catfish or char-filled oysters. I make an excellent clam chowder, and these are some things my family would like, but my son and I eat barbecue.

If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would that be, and what would you eat?
If my grandmother and grandfather were alive, it would be a Sunday dinner at their house. We would all pitch in with the cooking because we all cook. Something where you could go back in time, eat with family and exchange stories then ask all the things you never thought to ask, that you wish you would ask now. That would be the most incredible experience.

What items are always in your fridge?
Lots of condiments, which drives my wife crazy. Maybe some beer, wine and juice. I love going to the grocery store. I only keep a little in the refrigerator because I like to buy fresh. I have a lot of vacuumed sealed bags with frozen leftovers. I always cook more than we can eat. 

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