Southern Indiana chefs featured at upcoming On the Road collaborative dinner

Southern Indiana chefs featured at upcoming On the Road collaborative dinner

We’re hitting the road again!

Culinary Crossroads launched the On the Road dinner series last October in Evansville, and now we’re headed to the New Albany and Jeffersonville area. We thought you’d like to meet our three “culinary ambassadors” who’ll be creating an incredible menu for our May 18 dinner at Huber Orchard & Winery.

Ming Pu, executive chef, Brooklyn & the Butcher

A native of Taiwan, chef Ming Pu credits his mother for instilling in him a true passion for cooking. When he was 7, Ming and his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where they lived for two years before making Louisville their permanent home in 1999. Along the way, the 30-year-old chef gained a diverse food vocabulary of East Asian and French techniques and skills with a wide range of ingredients that are evident today in his New American cuisine at Brooklyn and The Butcher in New Albany. Ming has been honored by local and national publications, has been a contestant on the Food Network series “Beat Bobby Flay,” has cooked at the James Beard House in New York City and has participated in food and wine fests around the country.

Scott Dickenson, chef/owner, 1816 Modern Kitchen & Drinks

Born and raised in Norfolk, Va., chef Scott Dickenson made his way into the kitchen out of necessity. Growing up on ramen and tough times, he left school at 16 to take a job as a busboy, and after working his way up, he found his true passion – cooking. A motorcycle accident in 2014 put him in a wheelchair for a year, but he never stopped thinking about food and where it was going to take him. He relearned how to walk, and during a visit to Corydon, he fell in love with its small-town charm. While working at local restaurants, he began doing live cooking shows at Mesa in New Albany, where local investors took notice. With their help in 2019, he opened 1816 Modern Kitchen + Drinks, which features a Southern and Asian fusion menu.

Brittany Nicholson, pastry chef, Coffee Crossing

Brittany Nicholson is a classically trained pastry chef with a love for simple, flavorful desserts with an elevated twist. Born and raised in southern Indiana, her love for cooking began in the kitchen with her family. After deciding on a culinary career, Brittany studied at Sullivan University in Louisville and graduated in 2014. She accepted a position as an entry level baker and in less than six months had moved up to senior cake designer, a position she held for the next four years. While there, her work was featured in competitions, newspapers and magazines such as Kentucky Living and Louisville Eats. Today she runs the bakeshop at Coffee Crossing in New Albany, which produces pastries for six coffee shop locations. She also is a chef instructor for Mesa Kids Cooking School.

2022 Spring Dinner Series Begins

2022 Spring Dinner Series Begins

The Culinary Crossroads 2022 Spring Dinner Series kicked off its four-week run on April 19 with a menu inspired by the flavors of Spain and Portugal. The “global culinary experience” theme will continue as we spotlight Italy on April 26, France on May 3 and the Middle East on May 10.

Chefs for week one were Abbi Merriss of Bluebeard and The Brasserie at Kan-Kan, Carlos Salazar of Lil Dumplings Noodle Bar and West Fork Whiskey and Pete Schmutte of Leviathan Bakehouse. Wine pairings are included at all dinners and were selected by sommelier Ashlee Nemeth of Tinker Street.

“Tonight’s kick off was so much fun,” said Culinary Crossroads founder Larry Dickerson. “Being involved with Culinary Crossroads and especially the Spring Dinner Series is so enjoyable. A huge shout out to the chefs, strategic partners and patrons who make it happen!”

Once again, the Spring Dinner Series is hosted by Highland Golf & Country Club, and the presenting sponsor is Ivy Tech Community College. Proceeds go to compensate our chefs, support Culinary Crossroads’ initiatives and create a culinary scholarship at Ivy Tech. For more on the dinner series, as well as our upcoming On the Road collaborative chef dinner in Southern Indiana, follow Culinary Crossroads IN on Facebook and Instagram.

2022 Spring Dinner Series Tickets Now Available

2022 Spring Dinner Series Tickets Now Available

We’re so happy to announce that tickets for our second-annual Spring Dinner Series, presented by Ivy Tech Community College, are now on sale!

The 2022 Spring Dinner Series takes place April 19 – May 10 at Highland Golf & Country Club and features an incredibly talented lineup of some of the Indianapolis area’s top chefs. Each week, two chefs will work together on a multi-course menu with dessert created by one of Indy’s top pastry chefs! A portion of the proceeds from the dinners will go to create a culinary scholarship at Ivy Tech – the perfect combination “great food, great talent, great causes.”

Our 2022 dinner series will feature a Global Exploration theme, and menus will focus on Spain/Portugal, Italy, France and the Middle East. Our chef teams include:

April 19: Spain & Portugal with chefs Abbi Merriss and Carlos Salazar and pastry chef Pete Schmutte.

April 26: Italy with chefs Alan Sternberg and Brad Gate and pastry chef Tanya Smith.

May 3: France with chefs Steve Oakley and Esteban Rosas with pastry chef Cindy Hawkins.

May 10: Middle East with chefs Jonathan Brooks and Erin Kem with pastry chef Youssef Boudarine.

What a great lineup!

Last year, more than 500 guests joined us including First Lady Janet Holcomb, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, and Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann who each shared kind words about the dinners and the Culinary Crossroads dinner series initiative. Nearly two dozen partners and underwriters participated and helped make our dinner series a success.

Tickets are available in pairs for $350; or you can purchase a table for six for $1,000. In addition to helping to create a culinary scholarship, portions of the revenue are used to compensate participating chefs, cover food costs and provide support for future Culinary Crossroads initiatives. And we’ve got more great dinners coming up – stay tuned!

Looking Back at 2021

Looking Back at 2021

It’s almost spring and all of us here at Culinary Crossroads are gearing up for a busy and delicious 2022! But before we get started on what’s cooking in 2022, we thought we’d look back at 2021. What a year, right?

Despite the ongoing challenges of a pandemic, in 2021 we continued our work of spotlighting the people, places, products and services of the Indiana culinary community. We worked hard to reconnect local food fans with chefs and restaurants, especially important after so much time spent at home with our sourdough starters and carry-out dinners.

With that goal in mind, we launched our Spring Dinner Series in April 2021, a six-week series at Highland Golf & Country Club in Indianapolis with Ivy Tech Community College as our presenting sponsor. Each week, different chef teams created multi-course menus for 90 diners. All told, we worked with more than a dozen chefs and multiple sponsors to present six creative menus – plus perfect wine pairings and delightful signature cocktails. Those dinners, which featured some of Indy’s culinary icons and rising stars, provided a welcome way to safely reconnect.

“Coming out of 2020, we knew it was important for us to highlight our culinary ambassadors,” said Culinary Crossroads founder Larry Dickerson. “Those individuals had worked very hard to survive. We also want people to realize that when we reach out to the chefs, they are the talent, and we choose to compensate our chefs. And we feel that that should become the standard when other organizations utilize them for their fundraising efforts.”

The Spring Dinner Series finale in mid-May also allowed Culinary Crossroads to honor chef Greg Hardesty, one of Indy’s most respected culinary ambassadors. That final dinner brought so many of our local chefs together to celebrate his work with family, friends and colleagues. His death six weeks later made us all realize how much we value those connections.

The series also lead to another connection for Culinary Crossroads, when Paramount Schools of Excellence CEO Tommy Reddicks reached out about working with us on another dinner series. In honor of his late wife Kelly Wensing, a tireless supporter of Indy’s culinary community, we worked with Tommy to create our Sunday Supper Club dinner series with Paramount Schools of Excellence.

“One of the things that has been so exciting about the whole Culinary Crossroads initiative has been the cross pollination that has taken place,” said Larry. “The Supper Club is a case in point. Tommy saw that that we were building this around great food, great talent and great causes. And that resonated.”

The monthly Supper Club series launched last August and features six-course dinners held at the school’s Cottage Home campus. Thanks to the not-for-profit Kelly’s Fund that helps support it, the dinner series will continue through the summer of 2022 and beyond, with proceeds from ticket sales going straight to the chefs, and with a portion set aside to create an Ivy Tech culinary scholarship. Collaborations such as our Supper Club series exemplify our Culinary Crossroads theme of “great food, great talent and great causes.”

Later in the year, we launched our On the Road series with a collaborative chef dinner in Evansville, Ind. The October event brought together three of that city’s top chef ambassadors for a multi-course dinner, and we’ll be continuing the On the Road series around the state.

“The On the Road dinner series is very important to us,” Larry said. “From day one we were committed to the idea that this is a statewide initiative, and 2021 provided time for us to do our homework. The fact that we were able to pull off our initial On the Road Dinner in Evansville gave us a playbook that we think will make for some even more successful dinners around the state.”

We hope you’ll come along for the ride in 2022, whether in Indy or on the road, and help us shine that spotlight on great food, great talent and great causes!

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch announces Culinary Crossroads initiative

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch announces Culinary Crossroads initiative

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch announced today that a talented and diverse group of Hoosier culinary professionals and amateur home cooks will compete in the 2019 World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas this October 16-20.

The Indiana Office of Tourism Development will participate as a sponsor of Team Indiana. Additional sponsors and financial supporters of Team Indiana include: Indiana GrownClusterTruckRed GoldPiazza ProduceCentral Restaurant ProductsIndiana Kitchen-Premium Pork Products and Agency Worldwide.

Team Indiana is the first initiative for Culinary Crossroads, a new and ongoing branding campaign focused on raising awareness of the personalities, products, services and attractions that comprise Indiana’s culinary landscape. 

“Team Indiana features a wide selection of the most creative and talented chefs and home cooks our state has to offer,” Crouch said. “Their participation in the rapidly expanding world of food sport, and specifically the World Food Championships, will introduce the Culinary Crossroads brand to the international stage.”

Prior to the 2019 World Food Championships in October, Team Indiana will take their show on the road, hosting public events across the state this summer, including activities at the Indiana State Fair this August.

Crouch is focused on the important role Team Indiana and the Culinary Crossroads branding effort will play in attracting the skilled professionals needed to fuel Indiana’s growing economy.

“We are blessed with a phenomenal community of chefs, farmers, ranchers and food retailers throughout Indiana,” Crouch said. “Raising awareness of these talented individuals and organizations is a critical ingredient in making our state a tremendous place to live, work and play.”

Crouch said that as the state develops the Culinary Crossroads brand, it will continue to share stories with consumers around the country and provide this information to Indiana businesses to assist in their respective talent recruitment efforts.

Indianapolis chefs Craig Baker of Nostalgia Catering and Cindy Hawkins of Circle City Sweets will play leading roles for Team Indiana. 

“Indiana’s food culture has matured significantly over the past decade and we’re proud as members of Team Indiana to showcase a diverse array of chefs and cooks from across the state at the World Food Championships,” Baker said.

“It’s a great honor and opportunity to take our team members’ shared passion for food and use it to promote all that Indiana has to offer,” Hawkins said. “Team Indiana is a collaborative effort and we are very thankful for all the support.”