Around the world and back home again with Chef Daniel Orr

Around the world and back home again with Chef Daniel Orr

Columbus, Ind., native Daniel Orr left Indiana for culinary school, and his career took him around the world, from Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe to some of New York City’s top fine-dining establishments. In 2008, he came home, embraced his “inner Hoosier,” as he says, and opened FARMbloomington. Located right downtown on Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington, the restaurant features a farmhouse vibe, an award-winning burger and his great-grandma’s buttermilk biscuits.

For those who’ve never been, how would you describe the food at FARMbloomington?

Our concept is “Local Ingredients with Global Flavors.” We work with local farmers, foragers, growers and grain producers as much as possible and create a menu with techniques and recipes from my travels to France, Belgium, Great Britain, the Caribbean as well as from chefs I’ve worked with from Japan, India, Brazil and many other cultural and ethnic cuisines.

I know you do a lot of foraging yourself. Do you have a favorite ingredient you look forward to?

Mushrooms are always a fun one to forage for, and I’m a certified mushroom hunter, but I love day lilies, wild garlic mustard, chickweed, wild garlic and onions, red buds and dandelions.

How did you decide to become a chef?

My parents were kind of like hippies without the drugs. They made their own soaps, wine, jams, jellies and preserves. We always had a huge garden and fruit trees and bushes, and as kids we were sent in the woods to harvest wild berries and other goodies. It was a natural progression to getting in the kitchen with my mom and grandmothers to help with the cooking and man the grill with my father. My first job in the kitchen was with Max and Christine Lemley at the Walnut Room in Columbus, Ind., and I also worked with chefs Jim and Claire Gregory for Irwin Miller, the owner of Cummins Diesel also in Columbus. After that I went to Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I., and was a teaching assistant and fellowship instructor before starting my work life in New York City, Europe and the Caribbean before returning home to Indiana.

You’ve worked in fine dining restaurants in New York City — do you miss it?

I loved using the high-end ingredients and imported wild game. I also miss working with a large crew of of kitchen staff holding down a kitchen full of different stations. I loved the hustle and bustle of NYC. It was great to meet up with chefs from all over the city at the late-night chef hangouts.

Is there still a future for fine dining?

The restaurant business is cyclical. I believe it will come back strong in the future but with changes in the way it is served and presented on menus. The days of dressing up in a suit and tie to go to dinner are over. I think fine dining still exists in smaller, less formal settings.

In addition to FARMbloomington, what else are you up to?

I love working on cookbooks. I now have five, and I’m working on one about cooking for aging loved ones with dementia.

What do you like to cook at home?

When cooking for myself, I cook a lot of lean proteins and veggies. I love fresh fruit of all kinds. When the weather is nice, I love to grill. When I have folks over, things can get a lot more extravagant and usually themed around a cuisine from a far-away destination.

Any favorite fast foods or late-night indulgences?

Usually, it is mistakes from the restaurant, often made into a sandwich or salad. I try to eat as healthy as possible, but there are times I break down and go for take-away or a pint of sorbet.

Are there certain items that are always in your refrigerator?

All kinds of condiments from around the world, cheeses, yogurt, diet tonic, juices, fresh fruit and cooked proteins that I make on my day off.

For more on Chef Daniel, his restaurant, cookbooks, spice blends and more, check out the FARMbloomington website.

Congrats to first-ever Hardesty Scholars at Ivy Tech

Congrats to first-ever Hardesty Scholars at Ivy Tech

As the school year wraps up, all of us here at Culinary Crossroads would like to congratulate our first two Hardesty Scholars on a great year!

Working with the Hardesty family and Ivy Tech Community College, Culinary Crossroads awarded the first Chef Greg Hardesty Scholarships to culinary students Ethan Wise and Katherine Aliff for the 2023-24 school year. Honoring the legacy of late Chef Greg Hardesty, the scholarships are awarded annually to Ivy Tech culinary students who demonstrate talent, leadership and dedication to the craft of cooking. Chef Hardesty, who passed away in the spring of 2021, left an indelible legacy through the training and mentoring of many of Indy’s premier chefs.

Ethan Wise of Covington, Ind., credits his mom with starting him on his culinary journey. From helping at home with meals to making dinner himself and eventually starting his own baked goods business, Ethan developed a passion for the culinary field and has a goal of owning his own business. He currently cooks at The Local, a farm-to-table restaurant in Covington and volunteered at our Culinary Crossroads Spring Dinner Series.

Baking has always been a part of New Ross, Ind., resident Katherine Aliff’s life, and she has known she wanted to pursue a career in culinary arts since sixth grade. Aliff says her goals in the culinary and baking pastry industry are to work as a pastry chef in a restaurant or hotel and gain experience to eventually own her own bakery or cafe.

Another round of scholarships will be awarded for the 2024-25 school year, noted Culinary Crossroads founder and director Larry Dickerson, with a goal to expand to other Ivy Tech campuses.

“Chef Greg Hardesty was a mentor in the Indianapolis culinary community, and we are proud to celebrate the legacy he created,” said Dickerson.

On the Road dinner at Huber Winery to feature Southern Indiana chefs

On the Road dinner at Huber Winery to feature Southern Indiana chefs

Culinary Crossroads will be back in Southern Indiana for the third time on May 21 for a collaborative chef dinner at Huber Winery. Presented by Go SoIN with support from Ivy Tech Community College, these collaborative, multi-course dinners bring the local community together to spotlight some of the region’s top culinary talent. With menus that highlight local, seasonal ingredients and with each course paired with Huber wines, these chef dinners are truly a celebration of the what the region has to offer.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a complimentary cocktail hour featuring passed hors d’oeuvres, a sparkling wine and a signature cocktail. Dinner is at 7 p.m. and features four courses prepared by the talented chef team of Vanessa Felix-Goode, Logan Hostettler and Liz Martino. Here’s a brief introduction to the chefs.

Chef Vanessa Felix-Goode was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and grew up in a multicultural family with Asian and Spanish influences. She spent her teenage years residing in both Peru and Canada, where she developed a sense of culture and an appreciation for native ingredients and combining local products with classic and contemporary culinary techniques. An instructor at Prosser Career Education Center, she earned the respect and admiration of her students by sharing her genuine enthusiasm and vast knowledge of food and culture. She is also a regularly featured chef at MESA, A Live Dining Show, where she takes at-home cooks and foodies through culinary journeys by offering unique experiences to savor.

Chef Logan Hostettler grew up in Nashville, Tenn., but was born in the small town of New Washington, Ind. Until he was 6, he lived across the street from the church that he and his family would one day renovate as The 1894 Lodge & Catering Hall. He went to college and played and coached baseball in Nashville, but when his parents moved back to New Washington, he packed up his catcher’s mitt and moved back home to Indiana to help with the family business. Chef Logan returned to his hometown, where he now lives with wife Christy and their two daughters and has helped turn the locally focused restaurant into an award-winning establishment. 

Originally from Niagara Falls, N,Y., chef Liz Martino developed an early obsession with the art of cooking, inspired by the vibrant flavors of Italian and Croation cuisines prepared by family members. Formally trained at Sullivan University, Liz has made her mark on the local culinary scene over the past 20 years, from fine dining establishments to large and small-scale catering, private events, personal chef work and years in the baking and pastry arts. She teaches at Mesa Kids Cooking School as well as through Southern Indiana’s inaugural professional culinary training program, a collaboration sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College, Prosser Career Education Center and Caesars Foundation of Floyd County.

Local food advocate Twinkle Van Winkle on a new supermarket that will spotlight local products, classes and more

Local food advocate Twinkle Van Winkle on a new supermarket that will spotlight local products, classes and more

Indy’s Twinkle Van Winkle has worn many hats: pastry chef, recipe developer, food writer. When the new Niemann Harvest Market opens soon in Carmel, she’ll be directing efforts at community engagement and presenting classes and demos at the store’s teaching kitchen, dubbed The Nook. She fills us in on her multifaceted culinary career, her favorite spring ingredients and spills the (sweet) tea on what’s in her fridge.

First, I have to ask, is Twinkle your real name and has such an unusual moniker been a help or a hindrance?

Yes, it’s my real name. My parents are just as unique as you might imagine, and I’m
grateful for the name they gave me. It has almost always been a wonderful thing for me. The only real hindrance was bullies in grade school, you know. But it never really bothered me too much. I grew up in a small town (in Mississippi) and I guess I never really thought about it as “weird” since it is what everyone called me. Although I can do without being called Tinkle or Twinky. LOL. As my granddaddy always said, you can call me whatever you like, just don’t call me late for dinner.

What’s your background in food and what are you up to now?

I began cooking professionally in the early `90s. I trained to be a pastry chef and began writing recipes. I was the head pastry chef at Bottletree Bakery for 9-10 years, chef at a few other places. Once I moved to Indy from Mississippi in 2008, I started getting involved with the local food and drink scene. I wrote food articles and recipes for Indy Star, was the senior lifestyle editor for LIN Media, and most recently was the food and dining editor at Indy Monthly. I’m also really proud of the work I did as the executive chef of the Patachou Foundation. I have made specialty wedding cakes, catered meals, had an apple pie on “Oprah”, and once I made a chocolate cake styled as a Prada purse with matching shoe, bedazzled with chocolate work, for John Grisham’s wife.
Currently I’ve taken on the role of Community & Culinary Engagement and The Nook Director for Niemann’s Harvest Market opening in May in Carmel (off 116th and Keystone). With that role, I’ll be able to engage with the community and lead classes and demos in The Nook featuring local products that we carry in the store. For our grand opening, I’m featuring Smoking Goose, Chef Tanorria and more over the three-day event.

Is there one aspect of the food biz you’ve enjoyed the most?

I really love the community of growers, producers, and chefs I’ve gotten to know, and I love it when I can share a small business with others, and watch their business take off. It’s so cool that one day you are sharing a delicious product or a new restaurant and then see them in 4 or 5 years bigger and better. I also have loved the camaraderie of Indy Women in Food, a local organization that supports women whose lives are involved with food here in Indianapolis. It’s a very supportive group of female-identified chefs, entrepreneurs, food creators, foodies, food writers… it’s pretty comprehensive. And it’s amazing.

Tell us more about the new gig with Niemann Harvest Market? What will the new store be like?

So Harvest Market is nothing like you have seen before. Its food philosophy is to support locally grown and produced food in the cities they are located. (Currently the Carmel location is the third location, and one will be opening next year in Ann Arbor, Michigan.) When you walk through the main doors, you are greeted by friendly faces and an entire produce section of Indiana-grown produce-from corn to tomatoes to what-have-you. Almost all the produce is local, along with meat, eggs, dairy. Supporting farmers and supporting small is really the goal, along with bringing good, fresh food to people’s tables. There is a restaurant, tap room, coffee shop, and each department is managed by folks that believe in this philosophy. You’ll see Tulip Tree Creamery, Fischer Farms, 4 Birds Bakery, Just Pop In and so many more familiar foods. It’s a really bright, wonderful space. Oh, and let’s not forget the butter room. The cheesemongers will be churning our own butter with cream from a local creamery. You can actually watch them while you shop! As for me, I will be engaging folks in what is called The Nook. It’s a teaching kitchen where I will be offering classes to the public 4-5 times a week at some point, I hope! It also allows me the ability to feature folks who have products in our store, as well. I’ll be creating healthy meal kits with ingredients that are sourced locally, and teaching lots of classes. I even have a few champagne brunches on the schedule. I mean, who doesn’t want to come have brunch, a mimosa or two, then get their shopping out of the way for the week? I’m really excited to be back cooking, recipe developing and generally just getting people involved in cooking for themselves and learning about local foods.

Are there favorite dishes or ingredients you like to cook this time of year?

This time of the year I love to cook with radishes, sweet peas, and rhubarb. It’s also a great time of the year for foraging, so if I get my hands on morels, definitely. Ramps as well! But I always love gathering violets, red buds, dandelions and pine buds. They all make cool, interesting additions to salads and jams.

Any advice for home cooks wanting to up their game?

Definitely get out and visit some farmers markets. And sign up for a class with me! But
seriously, cooking is for everyone. Don’t be afraid to take a few risks with a new recipe or new ingredients. Find cookbooks with foods you enjoy and start experimenting. Also you should always have the basics on hand: onions, garlic, celery, carrots, bell pepper. These are the beginning of delicious.

What items are always in your fridge?

A gallon pitcher of sweet tea, sriracha, miso, Duke’s mayo and butter.

On the Road Again in Southern Indiana

On the Road Again in Southern Indiana

Culinary Crossroads is heading back to Southern Indiana for our third On the Road Dinner in the New Albany area. The collaborative chef dinner, which begins with a complimentary cocktail hour, is scheduled for May 21 and takes place at Huber Winery’s Plantation Hall in Borden, Ind. Presented by Go SoIN with statewide support from Ivy Tech Community College, the dinner will feature a fabulous multi-course menu created by some of the area’s top chefs, with each course paired with Huber wines.

This year’s featured chefs are Logan Hostettler of The 1894 Lodge, Liz Martino of Mesa Kids Cooking School and Vanessa Felix-Goode of V’s Gourmet to Go and Prosser Career Education Center. The chefs will work together to craft a one-of-a-kind menu that highlights area products and ingredients. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.

Promoting the people, products, places and services of Indiana’s culinary community is part of our mission here at Culinary Crossroads. The On the Road dinners, which take place around the state, offer a way to do just that.

“The On the Road dinner series is very important to us,” said Culinary Crossroads director Larry Dickerson, who launched the organization in 2018 with the support of Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, whose office oversees tourism, agriculture and rural affairs. “So often, statewide programs end up being Indy-centric. We are committed to the fact that this is a statewide initiative.”

Culinary Crossroads has presented On the Road dinners in Evansville, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute and Elkhart County as well as in the New Albany area, with more to come.

In Indianapolis, our Spring Dinner Series, a four-week series of collaborative chef dinners that take place on Mondays at Highland Golf & Country Club, runs through April 29 and features Indy chefs paired with chefs from around the state. Tickets for the April 29 dinner, featuring Indy chefs Ryan Nelson of Late Harvest Kitchen and Patrick Russ of Newfields as well as chef Jeff Ford of J. Ford’s Black Angus in Terre Haute, are available on Eventbrite.