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The Road to 100: An Interview with Patrick Sinclair

Last week, The Cookbook Creative founder Elaine Acker talked to Patrick Sinclair, with iHeart Radio, who’s created his own “Road to 100” challenge. He’s trying 100 new food brands this year, and we wanted to hear more about what he’s discovered!

Elaine: What’s the Road to 100?

Patrick: The Road to 100 was a sort of personal challenge to try 100 food and food and beverage brands in 2022. In my role here at iHeart, I’ve been working with a ton of food and beverage brands and really found a love for the community and all the people that are involved and just a ton of the brands and the founders just connected to them. I’m a big foodie myself, so it just kind of seemed like a natural fit. It’s been a lot of fun.

Elaine: And it’s August. So how far along are you?

Patrick: We last week we hit 72, so we’ve got a couple more in the books that are going to be popping up here probably the next few days and next week. I’m super excited to hit that 70% mark. I had no idea if I’d make it this far, but it’s been fun. And we’ve got a lot of a lot of really good brands to cap it off here in the next couple of months.


Elaine: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve come across so far?

Patrick: Oh, gosh. I think some of the surprising stuff is finding brands that I wouldn’t usually look at or wouldn’t necessarily try. It’s kind of outside of my comfort zone. It’s been really interesting to try a ton of different flavors. I’ve worked with a bunch of seltzer brands, sparkling water brands and it’s interesting to start to see all these brands getting away from the generic lime and the generic berry. I’ve got one here, Petal Sparkling Water, which is rose flavored. They make all kinds of different ones, like a dandelion lemon one and just kind of getting to try all these unique flavors has been a big surprise.


Elaine: I haven’t I haven’t been as adventurous as you on the water front, but I have been trying Hint. I love them. It’s just the subtle flavor because you get really tired of just drinking plain old water.

Patrick: And Hint wasn’t on my Road to 100 because I’ve already tried it before. I told myself I wouldn’t add any ones I’ve had before, but I love Hint.


Elaine: Let’s talk about you as a foodie. What do people want you to make all the time?

Patrick: I think now it’s more like, what box do you have in your pantry? I my roommate tends to make fun of me sometimes because I order a bunch of stuff when it comes to food. So. A lot of these brands I actually order multiple times. I think my fridge is probably the most diverse that you could probably find. So maybe it’s less of what I’m making, but maybe even some of the ingredients I’m using, like some of the different pasta sauces and, you know, just they’re just a little different in different ways. And I like the Rao’s pasta sauce or the Carbonne one, right? It’s something just a little bit different than what you might typically pick up. Or for me, especially, it’s maybe a little bit outside of what I normally would grab on the shelf, but now that’s what I’m getting every time.


Elaine: When you start with something like the jar sauce, do you kind of doctor it up or are there other things you do to it when you’re cooking with it? Or do you find that you just need what’s in that jar?

Patrick: I stick straight to some of those some of the products there. If it’s not broke, you don’t need to fix it. Right. It’s what my parents always said growing up. I mean, they don’t need anything. You don’t need to add anything to it besides the pasta. You know, it’s they’re fantastic on their own.


Elaine: I like the Rao’s. I add some hamburger and a little bit of extra onion and basil to it. Any particular kind of food that’s your favorite? Italian? Mexican?

Patrick: Oh, gosh. You know, I don’t discriminate with food. I’ll be honest. I definitely love Italian food. I’m here in Texas, so Mexican food is all over the place. So I’m a huge fan of Mexican food. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a plate of fajitas or something like that, right? I love sweets. But I try to stay away as much as I can. But I can’t. I definitely have a sweet tooth. Lexington Bakes makes brownies and cookies. They’re fantastic. I rant and rave about them. And I those were amazing. I tried to like space those out over a couple of days and eat them right away. And sometimes you just can’t.


Elaine: So did you grow up here in Texas? I’m in Texas, too. I’m in Austin.

Patrick: I’m from Dallas. I’m from a kind of a small town called Heath. It’s just east of Dallas, in the Rockwall area. I actually went to school in Georgetown. I went to Southwestern. So I’m very familiar with the Austin area. We were we were there all the time. I mean, it was we were in a small school and we wanted a big school vibe. We wanted to go and do college game day and go to UT game and enjoy the atmosphere of this huge big school. We got to do that. It was 30 minutes away. Other than that, I’ve lived in Dallas my entire life.

Close up photo of Swedish meatball dish

Elaine: Did you what did you grow up eating? I’ll tell you why I ask. I grew up in Longview, so just east of Dallas, and I didn’t even have spaghetti until I was in high school. We were all about the meat and potatoes! Did you grow up pretty meat-and-potatoes and now this is a big adventure for you? Or did you try different things?

Patrick: I wasn’t very experimental with trying different foods and things like that until maybe high school. But I would say I was pretty fortunate growing up. My dad especially loves to grill, so he was always smoking ribs on the weekend or something like that. And he’s big into trying new things as well. And his mom has a recipe for Swedish meatballs he would always make. And of course, he’s got the grill and he makes these like honey mango barbecue ribs every now and then that I will drive all the way home for. If you call me right now, I will drive home right now and go eat them. So I definitely grew up with a little bit of everything for sure.


Elaine: You have a favorite recipe? I just heard the Swedish meatballs and got all interested.

Patrick: That would probably be my favorite. I don’t know the entirety of the recipe. I just let my dad do his thing in the kitchen. When it comes to those, the only thing I will hint is that he uses grape jelly in part of it. So that’s kind of like a bit of a sweetness to it. They’re super, super, super good. He makes them for New Year’s and those are those are probably like one of my favorite things that he’s made.


Elaine: Go have a chat with Dad and see if he’d like to share that recipe!

Patrick: I’ll see if I can send it over to you.


Elaine: That’s one of the reasons we started doing cookbooks was because families had all these wonderful recipes with all these memories attached. Then the years go by and you’re thinking, “Wait, nobody, has that recipe? It’s not written down?”

Elaine: You mentioned the grill and dad on the grill. Do you prefer grilling or being in the kitchen?

Patrick: I love the grill side of things I love. I mean, I think part of that just has to do with just me growing up. I mean, my dad is the guy if if one person the family wants a burger, he just needs an excuse to go out there and fire up the grill and do whatever and get the Green Egg out. If he just wants to do something small and simple, it doesn’t matter. He’s going to find a way to do it. So, you know, when it comes to like grilled chicken and steaks and burgers and things like that, definitely always. I think just growing up on that, it’s just kind of like always stuck with me. I’m like, okay, you know, if I’m going to get something grilled chicken or whatever, it’s right up my alley.


Elaine: Grilling is more of a shared experience, because everybody can hang out and go in and out and stand by the grill and swap stories. It’s an experience. You’re making memories.

Patrick: Yeah, I remember my dad going outside – usually every weekend for sure. On Saturday or Sunday morning, he was usually out there. So, you know, him opening up the back door and getting a whiff of… maybe it’s the honey mango ribs he’s putting together or something else that smells amazing. He’s always got his NASCAR or Formula One or something like that on the TV. Everyone’s usually downstairs because when he’s opening the door and you’re getting smells and you’re ready to eat. You can tell the amount of times he’s going out there to check the heat and the temperature. You can kind of gauge if it’s starting to get close. Right? Everyone’s downstairs ready to go.


Elaine: You just don’t want to be far away from the action. You might miss out.

Elaine: What’s your favorite food memory?

Patrick: There’s a restaurant in Fort Worth called Joe T’s. It’s a Mexican restaurant. They make like… it’s either fajitas or enchiladas. You pick one or the other. They serve everything family style. So guac and queso and all the sides. It’s amazing. It’s a gigantic restaurant – an entire block, basically. I’ve got a lot of memories from college, and even recently. I’ve never been there and not had a good time. You know, the atmosphere is amazing. It’s a beautiful patio and I’m always there with a big group of friends… maybe people from college I haven’t seen in a few years. It’s a special place for me because I’ve never had a bad time. So you’re always going to have a good time next time.


Elaine: I do remember that place. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but it was it was great. It’s amazing. And the downside of this conversation – and every conversation I have –  is that no matter what time of day it is, I’m super hungry and I usually want to go for a special meal.

Patrick: I made sure I had lunch earlier because I was like, we’re going to talk about food and I’m definitely going to get hungry. I can only imagine doing this all day.


Elaine: And oh, I’ll tell you about another place that you might want to try it. We just did a cookbook for Chef Luke Rogers. He’s is in Plano. And he’s opened Cathedral Italian Bistro.

Patrick: And I’m going to write that one down. I love Italian food. I love it.


Elaine: What haven’t I asked you that would be fabulous to share?

Patrick: The next brand that’s going to be posted is going to be Dogtown Pizza, They’re from Saint Louis. They’re pushing into more retailers. They’re growing. And they’re probably one of my favorite clients right now. I know they’re in Central Market, so you should have them down, maybe even in HEB, Dogtown Pizza is amazing. It’s St. Louis style and super, super good. I’m excited to have them on my list as well.


Elaine: How can people follow you and learn about all the brands you’re checking out?

Patrick: All the brands so far have been posted on my LinkedIn. My LinkedIn is Patrick G. Sinclair. I usually do small reviews and things like that on them. Maybe a couple of highlights about the brand and make sure I make sure to tag the brand kind of where to find them. Almost every single brand, except for maybe one or two are on LinkedIn as well as their founders. So you can track them down really quickly, read the reviews and hopefully try them out yourselves. They’ve been a lot of fun!


And if we get that Swedish Meatball recipe, we’ll be sure to post it here!