BOISE, Idaho — Chefs often say food can create connections between people: that even complete strangers can sometimes leave as friends after a good meal.
For Jody Charles, that statement holds a lot of truth. His food is rooted in comfort--and in the flavors of home.
"Growing up in Louisiana, I learned to cook a lot with my mom," Charles said. "If you've ever had my food, you can taste the love and the sweat and tears I put into the food."
Charles is the head chef of Louisiana Soul Bayou, a small restaurant nestled away in a food hall near the movie theatre on Overland road. After moving to Idaho years ago, he noticed there weren't many options for soul food here in the Gem State--so he decided he wanted to share the flavors of his childhood with his community.
"We have a lot of people here in Idaho that are from these southern states that are missing this food and want this food on a daily basis," Charles said. "They're happy every single time they come and that keeps me going no matter what.
After encouragement from his friends and family, Charles began catering and taking part in local food festivals. Eventually, his journey took him to Chow. Chow has been a hub for budding Idaho entrepreneurs for the past three years. The food-hall-style layout offers pop-up restaurants a space to thrive and gain community support while also prepping them for a future brick and mortar location.
"We really pride ourselves on sticking true to our roots," explained Matt Schirmer, the manager of Chow. "We try to focus solely on local--we love this community so much and it gives us a lot of joy to be able to invest back into our community."
Louisiana Soul started as a pop-up at Chow, but after a little while, Schirmer asked Charles to be a permanent fixture--in his first-ever brick and mortar location. Today, that's where you'll find him, serving up the heart and soul he puts into his food.
"It's just a real good feeling when customers leave here giving you a thumbs up and telling you it's the best thing they ever had. It's a real good feeling," Charles said.