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Goose the Market has changed the Indianapolis food scene

A chat with Chris Eley of Goose the Market and Smoking Goose

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Chris Eley curing some meat at Smoking Goose. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Submitted Photo
  • Chris Eley curing some meat at Smoking Goose.

Our new video series, Indy's Table, launched last Thursday with Goose the Market. Each episode will be followed by a more in-depth story that shares parts of the interviews that ended up on the cutting room floor.


Watch for new episodes of Indy's Table on the third Thursday of every month at NUVO.net/IndysTable.


When I ask Chris Eley about the initial response the people of Indiana had to Goose the Market he says, “A really common response was, ‘We love you, but unfortunately, sorry you’re not going to be here in a year,’ just because they thought something like that couldn’t be supported here in this city.”

In the same breath, he follows up with a smile and, “Here we are, nine years later.”

Here we are. In those nine years Goose has become a household name around the state.

Eley grew up in Indianapolis, but he explains that it was his time in Chicago where he grew his passion for butchering, smoking and curing meats.

For Goose’s owner, it has been a career filled with following and achieving his passions, which is the goal for most anyone. “It really started as a love of cooking and butchering,” Eley tells me. “I really enjoyed the aspect of figuring how to essentially dissect an animal, all the cuts of an animal and really the best uses for an animal. “When I grew up, early on in my cooking, it was very common, especially in this region of the country, to just use the center cuts, the loins, the rib chops, that sort of thing. We didn’t do a very good job in this region of utilizing the entire animal. So I really found it interesting to find all of these other cuts that were so phenomenal on the animal that could be used in so many different ways, and really, obviously better respecting the animal and the life that the animal led.”

When he and his wife, Mollie, chose the Fall Creek Place neighborhood at 25th and Delaware, as the spot to do open their market there really wasn’t much in the neighborhood at all. But it quickly became home to them.

Hams aging at the Smoking Goose - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Submitted Photo
  • Hams aging at the Smoking Goose
“I’m from Indianapolis and I really thought it would be a good place for me to reintroduce the neighborhood butcher shop and specialty food and wine market,” he says. “That’s our original location and that will probably forever be our location unless somebody kicks us out,” Eley explains. “We lived above the market and have been a part of the neighborhood for nearly 10 years now, and we love the neighborhood and love the people in the neighborhood. It was under urban redevelopment at the time and that urban redevelopment just continues to flourish.”

In those years, the people of Indianapolis have gained faith in Goose, and Eley has continually had faith in his city, too.

“Over the course of the last 10 years I’ve really seen how [Indianapolis'] palate has changed and how the people are asking for new and different things. … I’m not really surprised by it, but I definitely love it and encourage it.”

From small beginnings, the team at Goose the Market was able to expand after about three years in business to include the popular downstairs wine and beer cellar, Enoteca. In 2011, Eley and team added a production facility, Smoking Goose.

“We had always produced all our own charcuterie in small quantities in the store,” Eley says. He then adds that Smoking Goose, “allowed us to essentially produce under our own label and sell these items at the store — which are pushing 30 to 40 different products in the store that we still make. So that was a huge change for us starting in 2011. You know, we’re always just finding new ways and new products.”

The Batali from Goose the Market in all its glory - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Submitted Photo
  • The Batali from Goose the Market in all its glory

Over the years they have crafted some of the finest charcuterie in the country and have been named on endless national recognition lists for their products. There are favorites for everyone throughout the city; from the spicy Delaware Fireball, or the tasty pig and fig terrine, or even the best sandwich of all time, The Batali.

And there are always new options coming out. “We look for gaps in our offerings, you know, different styles or different types,” Eley says. “It could be texture, it could be flavor, it could be seasonality. It could be incorporating someone else’s ingredients; so, like, we use ingredients from, like, New Day Meadery, or we use persimmons from Southern Indiana in the salami that we make in the fall.

“We look for variety in sizes and shapes. I like like patchwork, you know, different shapes, sizes, flavor profiles. I don’t like just sticking to just one hard and fast style. I think that is one of the things that makes us unique. We don’t just strictly do Italian style products, or a specific region of Italy, or a specific region of Spain; we tend to do a number of different styles and our own style for this region of the country.”

Whatever it may be, it is  the quality that sets it apart.
“We’re focused on continuing to create the best quality product and the most exciting products that we can. We’re really focused on the customers we have, the products we represent, and really, the producers we represent, as well,” Eley says.

The last part, the producers, play an important role in crafting the products we love. Eley and team work only with producers they know and trust.

“I think people now expect you to use high quality ingredients, high quality pork, or high quality meats in general,” he explains.

He goes on to share the story of one of his longest and most-loved producers, “We’ve worked with Gunthorp [Farms] not only since beginning here, not only since we opened the market, but also since I worked in Chicago. So probably over ten years I’ve worked with Gunthorp Farms.

Greg Gunthorp of Gunthorp Farms with one of his massive hogs. - GUNTHORP FARMS
  • Gunthorp Farms
  • Greg Gunthorp of Gunthorp Farms with one of his massive hogs.
“[Greg Gunthorp] was kind of doing the pasture-raised, local pork farming before it was even popular — before it was on anyone’s radar. He’s kind of one of these guys who is usually ahead of his time in what he’s doing. He’s incredibly intelligent and always trying to push the envelope and do new things. So, he is somebody I’ve always admired, not only for the way he farms and raises animals, but also his ability to connect with people.”

Other local producers like Jacobs and Brichford in Connersville and Conner Prairie earn high praise, too.

“We have some great relationships with producers locally. It’s just a lot of fun meeting people, finding out what works for them and works for us, and see if we can work together for long periods of time.”

This is at the core of Eley’s passion for this business. It’s about the people and the relationships and building up his neighborhood, while they build him up in return.

“Obviously, I do this because I really love the butchering and the charcuterie, but honestly that’s really like 20 percent of my time. I’ve always liked the relationships, I like people,” he says. “Really, at the heart of it, it’s always been about the experience. We’re really focused on trying to create the absolute best experience we can. It’s about the neighborhood and the culture and the people that you meet. That’s probably, really one of the best things about the market is just creating those relationships, meeting people and really getting to know people in the city, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

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