Next On the Road Dinner to Feature Elkhart County Chefs

Next On the Road Dinner to Feature Elkhart County Chefs

It’s time to hit the road! Culinary Crossroads is gearing up for more On the Road collaborative chef dinners around the state in 2024.

In March, we head north to Elkhart County, where three of the area’s top chefs will come together for one fabulous meal. Chef Sylvia Awald of West on Warren in Middlebury, chef Chris Janowsky of Artisan in Elkhart and chef Robert Standen of Ruhe 152 in Nappanee will be collaborating on the March 26 dinner.

In conjunction with presenting sponsor Ivy Tech Community College and the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau, our On the Road dinner will take place at the Elcona Country Club. Guests will enjoy a complimentary cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres created by the chefs before being seated for their multi-course dinner, which also includes wine pairings.

To reserve a table, please email

Indianapolis, The “Culinary Crossroads of America,” to host 2024 World Food Championships

Indianapolis, The “Culinary Crossroads of America,” to host 2024 World Food Championships

INDIANAPOLIS – Culinary Crossroads, a statewide branding initiative focused on spotlighting the people, products, places and services of Indiana’s culinary community, recently revealed the World Food Championships (WFC) will be moving to Indianapolis in November 2024.

In hosting this event, Indianapolis will take center stage in the world of “food sport competition,” as
1,500 competitors – home cooks, professional chefs and BBQ teams – from across the country and
around the world convene at the Indiana Farm Bureau Fall Creek Pavilion on the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center from November 8 – 12.

Recognized as one of the world’s largest food sports competitions, WFC 2024 will crown champions
in 12 separate categories during the five days of competition. Fans will be able to watch
the competitions, experience a diverse selection of food offerings prepared by competitors, watch
cooking demonstrations and shop at an expansive group of sponsors and exhibitors.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who attended the 2019 World Food Championships in Dallas has
supported the effort to bring the competition to Indianapolis.

“Indianapolis is the perfect destination for the World Food Championships, and we are very excited to serve up some great Hoosier Hospitality to the competitors, sponsors, exhibitors and food sports fans in attendance,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Hosting the World Food Championships will also highlight the incredible offerings of Indiana State Fairgrounds’ new Farm Bureau Pavilion and Ivy Tech Community College’s Culinary Center. They’ll see firsthand why we are the Culinary Crossroads of America.”

Culinary Crossroads director Larry Dickerson noted the collaborative effort to secure the championships.

“We’ve had our eye on bringing the WFC to Indy since 2019 when the Lieutenant Governor accompanied us to Dallas, where the competition has been the past few years, and we set a goal to bring the WFC to Indianapolis,” said Larry Dickerson, director of Culinary Crossroads. “With the assistance of the leadership of Ivy Tech Community College, the Indiana State Fair, Visit Indy, Team Indiana competitors and many others, we’ve brought a great idea to fruition and are on our way to establishing Indianapolis as the Food Sports Capital of America.”

WFC’s founder and chief operating officer Mike McCloud pointed out that this spirit of cooperation and partnership impressed him and will help make Indy an ideal home for the leader in Food Sport.

“This is an exciting day for WFC and Food Sport in general,” said Mike McCloud, founder and chief operating officer of WFC. “Indianapolis is the place where champions are crowned in all types of sporting events and professional and amateur leagues. That reputation, in addition to the diverse culinary scene that has blossomed over the years, makes Indy a perfect home for our Main Event, where we crown the best cooks and chefs from around the globe in iconic categories of food.”

For more information about the World Food Championships, visit

For more information about Culinary Crossroads, visit

About World Food Championships
The World Food Championships (WFC) is the highest stakes Food Sport competition in the world. This multi-day, live event culinary competition showcases some of the world’s best cooks who compete for food, fame and fortune in 12 categories (Bacon, Barbecue, Burger, Chef, Dessert, Live Fire, Rice, Noodle, Sandwich, Seafood, Soup and Vegetarian). Each year as Food Sport kicks off in January, thousands of cook teams try to earn their way into WFC by winning a Golden Ticket at an official qualifying event. Almost 40 countries and every state in America have been represented at WFC’s Main Event since its inception in 2012.

About Culinary Crossroads
Culinary Crossroads shines a spotlight on the people, products, places and services that define
Indiana’s culinary landscape and help make Indiana the place where people want to live, work and play. Culinary Crossroads creates collaborative chefdinners in Indianapolis and around the state, supports charitable causes related to the culinary community and promotes culinary competitions and Indiana food sport competitors including SkillsUSA at the high school level. More information is available at

Two Indiana chefs on James Beard Award list

Two Indiana chefs on James Beard Award list

The “long list” of semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Awards was released Feb. 24, and two Indiana chefs made the cut. Chef Thomas Melvin of Vida in Indianapolis and chef Sal Fernandez of Bridges Craft Pizza & Wine Bar in Greencastle are now in the running to be finalists for Best Chef: Great Lakes in the prestigious awards, often called “the Oscars of the food world.”

The semifinalist nod is the second for chef Thomas (check out our Q&A with him here) and the first for chef Sal, who noted in a Facebook post that he is honored to be included on the semifinalist list.

“Since coming to Greencastle seven years ago, I wanted to bring excellent food, a great experience and a place the community can enjoy,” he said, “Being able to now say I have been nominated, and doing so in the Greencastle community, makes it even more special.”

The list of final nominees for the awards will be released April 3 with winners being announced at the Beard Awards gala in Chicago on June 10.

Indiana has had numerous semifinalists for the awards in various categories in the Restaurant & Chef Awards, but has never had a final nominee or winner. Two Indiana restaurants have received the Beard Foundation America’s Classics designation, which honors family-owned restaurants that have been operated for at least a decade. Wagner’s Village Inn in Oldenburg was honored in 2023, and St. Elmo Steak House in 2012.

Sample award-winning rye whiskey at Indiana’s Hard Truth Distilling

Sample award-winning rye whiskey at Indiana’s Hard Truth Distilling


For its 2023 Spirits Awards, Men’s Journal magazine recently ranked an Indiana craft distillery among its top picks.

Spirits writer Jonah Flicker listed his top 16 rye whiskeys for the magazine, and Indiana’s Hard Truth Distilling made the cut. The Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye was deemed the best craft rye whiskey.

“Hard Truth makes fantastic rye whiskey,” Flicker wrote in December, “and its Sweet Mash Rye expression exemplifies what they’re up to. ‘Sweet mash’ means that each distillation begins fresh, as opposed to the sour mash process used by most distilleries where some of the mash from the previous distillation is left in the still.”

The Indiana Rye Whiskey designation took effect in 2021 and follows the federal requirements for rye whiskey — a minimum of 51 percent rye in the grain bill, distilled at no greater than 160 proof, placed in a barrel at no more than 125 proof — then adds the Indiana-specific requirements that it be mashed, fermented, distilled and then rested at least two years in the state of Indiana.

Hard Truth Distilling in Nashville, Ind., offers a great opportunity to start sampling Indiana rye. While folks are likely more familiar with Kentucky bourbon, they’ll be hearing more and more about Indiana spirits. The state now has more than 40 distilleries, from large to small. Hard Truth, as it notes on its website, began distilling in 2015 in the small upper rooms of Big Woods Pizza Co. in downtown Nashville, Indiana. The tiny craft distillery quickly grew, and by 2017, construction had begun on a new facility set on a rolling, wooded, 325-acre property about a mile away from Hard Truth’s original home.

That property became the Hard Truth campus, and the Hard Truth Tours & Tastings Center opened its doors to guests at the end of 2017. The following summer, the Restaurant at Hard Truth opened. And, in the fall of 2018, Hard Truth Distilling Co. made the move to its brand new, state-of-the-art, sweet mash distillery, where it’s been producing Hard Truth spirits – including Indiana rye – ever since.

“Rye whiskey is synonymous with the great state of Indiana,” said Hard Truth partner Jim Dunbar. “We are proud to be part of that heritage and tradition.”

In fact, Hard Truth Distilling Co.’s first batch of Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey was named among bourbon curator and taster Fred Minnick’s Top 100 American Whiskeys of 2021 during his annual ranking event.

“Distillers in Indiana have historically produced some of the highest quality rye whiskeys in the world,” said Bryan Smith, master distiller/partner at Hard Truth. “We’re on the forefront of a new era of whiskey-making as sweet mash pioneers here in the state of Indiana, and it is truly an honor to be included on a list with such legendary distillers, especially with our first batch. Crafting the highest quality sweet mash rye and bourbon whiskey in the state of Indiana is at the core of our efforts here at Hard Truth Distilling Co., and our passion for hard work in making world class whiskey really seems to resonate with people. We can’t wait for you to taste the whiskeys yet to come.”

Hard Truth Distillery offers tours, tasting, mixology classes and more, as well as a restaurant and a rental cabin. Find out more here.

You can find out more about other Indiana distilleries, many of which offer tours, tastings and special events, by checking out Indiana Grown’s Distillery Trail, which features 18 of its member distilleries.

Originally published in October 2022.