Here at Culinary Crossroads, our goal is to spotlight the people, products, places and services that define Indiana’s culinary community. Two years ago, that community lost one of its brightest stars.
In June 2021, chef Greg Hardesty passed away after a year-long struggle with cancer. As chef/owner at several highly regarded local restaurants, including H2O Sushi, Elements, Recess and Room 4, Hardesty was recognized by local and national awards, including multiple honors as a James Beard Foundation Best Chef semifinalist. But he also trained and mentored numerous Indianapolis chefs, including those who went on to become Best Chef semifinalists in their own right. In fact, Hardesty would often say that was what he was most proud of professionally – teaching and encouraging young chefs.
Many of those chefs came together during Culinary Crossroads’ first Spring Dinner Series in May 2021 to support Hardesty when he and chef Abbi Merriss cooked for our final dinner of that series. He passed away the next month, leaving an indelible mark on the Central Indiana culinary landscape.
To honor that legacy, Culinary Crossroads created the Greg Hardesty Scholarship Fund at Ivy Tech Community College. This year, an advisory panel including his wife, Susan, friends and fellow chefs will select the first recipients of the Hardesty Culinary Scholarship. The awards will provide for a full year’s tuition in Ivy Tech’s culinary program.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to provide the launch pad for the Chef Greg Hardesty Scholarship Fund,” said Larry Dickerson, founder of Culinary Crossroads. “Each and every time we were looking for the best of the best in Indy’s culinary community, Greg’s name was at the top of the list. And each time we reached out to Greg for his insight, advice, and participation, he stepped up. Establishing this scholarship and committing our organization to growing the fund is the least we can do to honor someone who made such an incredible contribution to our culinary community.”
Our Spring Dinner Series this year, which runs from April 10-May 1, provides an opportunity to raise additional funds for the scholarship. A portion of ticket sales will be earmarked for just that; for each of our 12 participating chefs, Culinary Crossroads will donate $500 in their names to the Hardesty Scholarship Fund, for a boost of $6,000. Tickets for the dinner series are available here.
Ivy Tech is currently accepting scholarship applicants, with the first awards anticipated for the fall 2023 semester. Ivy Tech Community College President Sue Ellspermann said the scholarship will help accelerate Ivy Tech’s commitment to the culinary arts.
“We are honored to be able to celebrate chef Hardesty, who guided his employees and colleagues to great professional careers,” said Ellspermann. “We look forward to celebrating the successes of future Hardesty Scholarship recipients and to the advancements that will come about through working with Hardesty Scholarship advisors.”
You can read more and donate to the Hardesty Scholarship Fund here.