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!